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Satya Bhabha on playing the quintessential Bombay boy in Midnight's Children.
When Deepa Mehta first announced the celluloid adaptation of Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, everyone asked her who would play Saleem Sinai, the primary character in the film. Names such as Ranbir Kapoor, Imran Khan and Shahid Kapoor did the rounds for a while. But Mehta sprung a surprise by casting what can be termed an unconventional choice for a hero — Satya Bhabha. An American actor of Indian origin, Bhabha was, until then, best known for his portrayal of Matthew Patel in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010). Here, Mehta had thrust the burden of an entire film on his shoulders with the character of Saleem, which is probably one of the most unique in the world of subcontinental literature.
Bhabha seemed only too content to carry it further, and is eagerly awaiting the Indian audience's verdict as the film hits the theatres on February 1. "There is truth, honesty and positivity to Saleem that really inspired me. I felt there were aspects of my own personality that I wanted to explore through the character. He faces such incredible obstacles and still emerges hopeful and positive for the next day," says the actor.
Bhabha first met Mehta in Toronto (Canada) through a common friend. The first two meetings were spent talking and getting to know each other, and it was during their third meeting that they eventually discussed the role. "Months later, I was told I would be playing the part," he says. It also helped that Bhabha knew the novel extensively and was familiar with Mehta's style of filmmaking because he had seen most of her films.
Born in London and having studied theatre at the Yale University, Bhabha was always inclined towards creative arts. "I have always dreamed of being an actor for as long as I can remember," he says. His grandmother, who lives in Mumbai, was passionate about amateur dramatics and instilled in him great love for theatre when he was younger. "We would go to many musicals and plays when she would visit me in London and she introduced me to my great hero, Fred Astaire. He was my real inspiration to pursue this as a career, " he states.