Life has its inroads built with struggles, the rugged road is for us individuals to overcome, and within our choices that we make, we settle for something that makes us truly in love with life. Very few individuals get the opportunity to do what they really like doing. Life is either free or fair our choices determine our career. Along these lines, a momentous discussion took place with outstandingly talented and notable actor Saugat Malla.
Born in Nawalparasi, actor Saugat started his heydays through various forms of caricature, mimicry and stage performances. He never missed the opportunity to perform be it the Dashain or the Tihar festivals. Saugat said “It was all due to my childhood friend who used to be called by the name Renuwa in the village, he first showed me Indian cinema back in those days when no form of entertainment was available. I used to enjoy watching movies of actor Amitabh Bachchan and I remember his movie Sholay which was a very big hit”.
Saugat was inclined towards acting at a very young age, starting at just 9 when he first hit the stage through various dance performances, along with mimicry and caricature. Those were his base which he decently builds and continues never giving up even though times were tough and in some days he put over 18 hrs. to his work.
(Still frame from Kagbeni Nepal’s first HD film)
Theater became his passion and he performed in various plays. He was associated with Gurukul in Maitidevi Kathmandu, he would be recognized and brought to movies through these theater activities which he engrossed himself with. He was mentored mainly by Sunil Pokharel and Anup Baral in his endeavors and they encouraged him to pursue acting due to his raw talent.
“It was never easy for me, I used to be up most nights practicing for my plays, improving my expressions and understanding my character. There were tough times, and I had to adjust to the city life of Kathmandu, nevertheless, I never gave up” said Saugat. Indeed, he overcame his obstacles, and mainly his attitude toward his profession which he thoroughly loves brought him through those difficult times.
Saugat has performed in over 700 plays associated with Gurukul, M.R. Theater under Birendra Hamal, and various street plays including forum theater. He says “acting is not only entertainment. It is an internal expression along with providing information on various social issues, and making the larger masses aware of the happenings around us”.
Forum theaters and “kachaharis” were formats where the audiences were asked to participate along with the actors who had their story composed of any given pressing social issue that was prevalent and in discussion within the society. The actor supports the forums and street plays mainly because it is essentially to get the people educated toward problem-solving skills, and also enabling them to be aware of information too that otherwise, they may not have any access to.
From caricature, mimicry, street plays, forum theaters and over two decades of pursuing acting, Saugat made history with his first break in Nepalese cinema. Kagbeni was the first of its kind high definition movie to hit the theaters. Saugat was praised for this acting skills and the movie went on to be critically acclaimed and loved by the Nepali audience which changed the dynamics of the industry.
(Still frame from movie Kagbeni)
Saugat then went on to lead in various movies which would establish him as one of the most bankable actors of Nepalese cinema. ” Loot” series a movie based on robbery would be remembered only for the brilliance of the character “Haku Kale” which was majestically portrayed by sheer acting of Saugat Malla. Other movies would follow which would further strengthen his hold on the Nepalese movie industry which includes Dasdhunga, Chhadke, Kabaddi Kabaddi, Fateko Jutta, and Lappan Chhappan.
(Still frame from movie Loot)
Saugat believes that in order to be successful one should have perseverance along with monumental discipline. These were core factors that brought him to his position along with his passion for the profession.
“Nepali movies need to experiment and bring stories that would relate with the general public, rather than usual slapstick. I choose my characters if I can do full justice to them. Yes, of course, there are times when you do it because you need to survive”. He also says “keeping yourself fit is extremely important. I hit the gym often, and I also take inspiration from actor Jean-Claude Van Damme for his performance and physique in the movie Kickboxer”.
(Still frame from movie Chhadke)
Saugat Malla has tasted success and his prudence will guide him further, modest and gentle, the stardom received hasn’t changed the person within him. He still holds the same passion and regard for his profession and ingenuity strives to perform and entertain. Although he feels, more than entertaining acting is a medium of informational exchange. Actor Saugat Malla is the recipient of the National Film Award for the Best Actor for his movie Loot, and the Nepal Film Technician Association award for the most popular actor.
(Photos via Youtube. The discussion took place on 18th September 2019, location Madhouse Production office Maitidevi)