HT City Vibe of 25: Ashutosh Rana says ‘Sangharsh’s role was written for me' - Hindustan Times
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HT City Vibe of 25 | Ashutosh Rana on 25 years of Sangharsh: Every actor wishes for one such movie

ByMimansa Shekhar
Feb 23, 2024 08:03 AM IST

HT City Vibe of 25: Ashutosh Rana says Sangharsh was not a mainstream film when it released. But he's happy in last 25 years, the genre has found more takers.

Actor Ashutosh Rana reveals he was disappointed when writer Mahesh Bhatt signed someone else to play Lajja Shankar Pandey in Sangharsh (1999). The psychological thriller, which turns 25 this year, continues to remain one of the high points in the ace actor's filmography. Also read: Renuka Shahane on watching Ashutosh Rana on Sangharsh sets for first time

Ashutosh Rana looks back at Sangharsh which turns 25.
Ashutosh Rana looks back at Sangharsh which turns 25.

‘This role was written for me’

"I was shooting in Hyderabad. I left it and came running to Mumbai to meet Bhatt sir. I asked him how could he sign someone else? Either he should take my audition and then reject me, or just say I didn't do justice to Dushman (1998). I wouldn't let anyone else do this role," Rana tells us.

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He adds, “Bhatt sir laughed and said since he hadn't met me for a long time, he was playing around. Because if he hadn't, I would've never come. This role was written for me.”

Ashutosh Rana played the role of Lajja Shankar Pandey in Sangharsh (1999).
Ashutosh Rana played the role of Lajja Shankar Pandey in Sangharsh (1999).

Why Sangharsh was not a mainstream film

Lajja Shankar was a religious fanatic who believed in barbaric ways to attain immortality. Audience remember Rana for his shocking portrayal, who revealed that the dreadful cry was his addition to the character. "The look and mannerisms were a collective design by Bhatt sir, Tanuja (Chandra, director) and myself. Bhatt sir wanted a signature for the character. It could be a catch phrase, but I don't believe in catchphrases," Rana says, adding, "Such a cry wards of evil spirits. I thought for Lajja Shankar, every spirit is evil who comes in way of his intentions. Whenever he's in pressure, he does that cry. I did it on shot without any rehearsal. It had such an impact."

According to Rana, Sangharsh was not a mainstream film when it released. But he's happy in last 25 years, the genre has found more takers. "To have that conviction of taking the risk back then is worth applause today," he shares, calling it "one of the finest films."

While many believe Sangharsh is inspired from The Silence of The Lambs (1991), Rana holds the view that even if fans believe that, his character sets it apart.

So how does he look back at the movie today? "Very few things in life have such a long journey. Every actor wishes for at least one such movie. Generations have passed. If a film stays in your memory for this long, it's a blessing for any actor," Rana concludes.

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