Sarjano Khalid, the doe-eyed new boy in M-Town is a ball of energy flocking around the sets of his new music video. He perked the interest of not just young girls with his boyish charm but also impressed the general audience with his acting prowess in his first film, June. In terms of looks, the quirky 20-year-old stands contrasting to his look in June; he now dons a matted beard and a tousled hair. On a candid chat, the young charmer opens up about his journey so far, his view on cinema, his experiences working on June and a peek into his forthcoming projects.
Trace us through your childhood. Was acting ever a part of the plan growing up?
My father was a part of the television industry and so I grew up with a fair understanding of how it all worked. Although I wasn’t directly involved in any of their discussions, you could always find me in the middle of the table, listening keenly. Somewhere during my childhood, I garnered an interest towards acting, but before anything, I needed to develop confidence in myself that I do indeed have what it takes to be an actor. That’s when I got a call from the makers of Malayalam movie Nonsense and the 45 days that I spent on those sets taught me that I was actually nothing and that there was so much more to learn. It was a reality check. Post that, I’ve handled opportunities in a more matured manner, auditioning only for roles I thought I had the ability to do. I am confident that there is still a lot of scope for personal growth.
How exactly did June happen?
I was at a very interesting juncture when June happened to me. Having completed my 12th board exams, I had come down from Qatar in the pursuit of joining a film school, and I did get into Srishti Institute of Art, Bangalore. That was when June happened, and I proudly turn down the college opportunity. Here I am, being referred to as ‘June-fame Sarjano’, so guess it has been a right decision. But I am certain that I would take my time away to pursue my higher education.
Your school, Peepal Grove seems to have had a lasting impact on the person you are today. So were you able to relate to the school portion in June with that of your own school days?
Yes. I moved from one school to another just like Noel did, faced similar difficulties of feeling belonged and accepted. Although, there are very few aspects of Peepal Grove that I could relate with the movie, mainly because of the alternative educational system that they followed, the school really did open my eyes to a lot of aspects in life. I even had a supportive teacher like Noel did, I called her Swathi Akka who still holds a special place in my heart.
June introduced 16 new faces, thanks to Vijay Babu Productions. How useful did such a launch pad prove for an actor like you?
It is very important and I consider myself very blessed to have had the opportunity to stride through this path. I’ve seen people sacrifice years, spend long nights hustling, compromising on family and other aspects of life to live this dream of theirs. All I did was crack this one audition. Having said that, I don’t believe that there is a certain scale to weigh each other’s struggles. I would not agree if somebody told me that I got it easy, because I didn’t. I believe that I am where I am having faced my own share of struggles, just like everyone else.
Your name Sarjano means ‘creativity’. Do you think creativity is what drives this industry forward?
Yes, but no. Creativity for me, is like a by-product of the package as a whole. It isn’t necessarily the only thing that drives the industry forward. In my understanding, for a film to work, many things have to fall into the right place. While creativity is a bonus, and I am so happy that even non-mainstream movies which are breaking stereotypes are being welcomed with open arms, it is after all a business.
What was the last movie you watched that was totally out of the box, and a much-needed break from other conventional ones?
Kumbalangi Nights. It was hands down the best original piece of work I’ve seen in a long long time.
Having spoken about struggles of being accepted, did you face any such similar struggles being a newcomer with absolutely no link to the industry?
I don’t think so. I went into the audition with a fresh mind and it was simply an honest attempt. I remember them asking me to act out a scene with Rajisha Vijayan, a State Award Winner, who I had immense respect for and that was when I got slightly jittery. But it turned out to be a saving grace for me, constantly helping me out. I cracked the audition, and here I am.
But don’t you think you would be expected to fill in the shoes of many established actors? Isn’t a scale of comparison bound to arise?
There’s no pressure, I am just going in the flow. Somewhere inside me, I have an extremely strong intuition that I am made for this–to be an actor. I also understand that as an audience, it is only natural to compare. We all do, whether we express it or not. I just want to do good for the industry, that’s all.
Would you say that you’re a changed person?
Whatever little fame that June gave me hasn’t blinded me. I am still the same person, and the people in my life who matter still treat me as their old Sarjano. Nothing much has changed. Even when people come up to for a picture, I am not getting carried away. I am just happy.
If not for acting, what turn would you have probably taken?
Think I would’ve probably become a photographer. I’ve always had an inkling towards aesthetics and portraying reality in still imagery. It’s a beautiful pursuit. Taking worthy pictures makes me happy and I find it similar to acting in some ways.
What are your upcoming projects?
I’ve got a billion-dollar chance to be play a small part in Gautham Menon’s upcoming project, a web series – Jayalalitha’s biopic. I’ve signed a project alongside Biju Menon titled Aadhya Raathri too. On the sidelines, I just wrapped a shoot for a music video by debut director Vinayak Sasikumar.
Lastly, tell us a little about what the audience can expect of you in the future.
At the moment, I am ready to challenge myself, test my limits and go out of my comfort zone. Let’s see what the future has in store for me.