Actor Amit Sial says his consecutive successes in the digital space has motivated him to break free from the casting stereotypes and push himself to choose newer and braver characters. Sial's meteoric rise in the Indian entertainment industry has been parallel with the advent and the eventual success of streaming platforms in the country.
Despite starting his film career in the mid-2000s, the actor found nationwide spotlight only after featuring on popular shows like Amazon Prime Video's 'Inside Edge', 'Mirzapur', Netflix's crime-drama 'Jamtara – Sabka Number Ayega' and the recent Sony LIV series 'Maharani'.
In an interview, Sial said, though the success is hard-earned, he doesn't want to get complacent basking in its glory.
"I have learnt to not get too excited or get carried away. I do not want to dwell on past glories and make too much about it. Right now, I feel ready to headline projects on my own shoulders. I am looking forward to leading projects. When things are going well, you have to push yourself to get what you want."
Even though the industry was always aware of his work in films like Dibakar Banerjee's 2010 'Love Sex Aur Dhokha' and Kanu Behl's acclaimed 'Titli', the 46-year-old actor said the success on the over-the-top (OTT) platform has finally made him a mainstream name. "Before my stint with the OTT, a lot of my work was noticed by the industry. But what has transformed is that now I am in the popular zone. A lot of important people didn't know about me, but now I am right there in front of them. That could happen because I put my head down and worked continuously."
With the attention, Sial is aware it is the right time to shake things up. While almost all of his successes draw back to the intense parts -- from playing a powerful local politician in 'Jamtara' to a cop in 'Mirzapur' -- the actor believes he needs to "break out" from casting stereotypes. "I am trying to break out of the intense projects I have been doing, hand picking lighter subjects. I am looking out for comedies because people tell me I have a good sense of humour and I would like to apply it in a project."
But to get to lighter parts, Sial first has to battle the challenge of finding people who are ready to experiment with him and offer him something out of his comfort zone. "It's bound to happen. There is so much economics involved in creating something and putting it up on screen. I understand people's fear and insecurity to rely on the tried and tested. But it's my responsibility to break out of it," he said.
Sial's pursuit of good work is rooted in his long struggle to enter the film industry. Born and brought up in Kanpur, Sial recalled developing a fascination for acting right from his school days. When he moved to Delhi in the mid-90s for higher studies, he got actively involved in the city's theatre circuit. But the lack of financial stability in acting -- especially for an outsider trying to find a footing -- became a cause of concern for his family.
Sial "conformed to their fears" and moved to Melbourne, Australia, for a post-graduation diploma in International Business. He stayed in the country for four and a half years, where he also started working in a bank. But the recession in 2001 cut short his stint Down Under. "By that time, I had started getting bored living there. Everything was streamlined. I was missing the chaos of my country. So I moved back to Kanpur." While he briefly tried to work with his father, who was into leather business, he again moved to Delhi as a franchise development director for a playschool company.
He eventually moved to Mumbai in 2007 after actor Randeep Hooda, whom he had met in Australia and formed a deep connection with, called him for an acting opportunity. Hooda was studying in Ballart, two hours away from Melbourne where Sial was based when they first met through common friends.
"Randeep was cast in a film and asked me to audition for other parts. That film didn't take off for me. I went back to Delhi but realised my heart was not in it. I packed my bags and moved to Mumbai for good in 2007. I'm here since then. Working hard, non-stop." The actor will be next seen in the third season of 'Inside Edge', ZEE5 film 'Aafat-e-Ishq' and web series 'Inspector Avinash', co-starring Hooda.