'I search for characters that have a certain style, be it Ballu from Khal Nayak, Ajju from Kaante, Billa from Musafir or Kancha Cheena from Agneepath.'
Sanjay Dutt feels his most memorable performances are the ones where he has played morally complex characters. Looking back, the actor says it was his 1993 movie Khal Nayak that helped him step out of his comfort zone and take on larger-than-life characters.
It was this character Ballu in Subhash Ghai's superhit film, which gave him an opportunity to experiment with his choices, instead of restricting himself in good guy roles.
"It's a risk that I took in my career when I played characters with different shades. It paid off because I was convinced that I could challenge myself as an actor. If I'm not convinced, then how will audiences be convinced? It was when I did Khal Nayak that I realised that I should look for roles out of my comfort zone," Dutt said at an event promoting his latest film, K.G.F. Chapter 2.
"I believe playing larger-than-life characters is an important phase in an actor's life because the public loves these characters. I have learned this during my 40-year long career. I prefer doing these kinds of roles and I love them."
When he would feature in the films alongside contemporaries like Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff and Sunny Deol, he said the drive was always to grow as actors, something that's missing in the current generation of actors.
"Actors today are very dedicated to their craft. They are not conscious. But with us -- me, Jackie and Anil -- we were not insecure. I worked with everyone in the industry when I started out. The same goes for Anil and Jackie, and even Sunny.
"From Dilip (Kumar) sir to Amitji (Amitabh Bachchan), we worked with everyone. We were not insecure as we wanted to learn from these stalwarts. When I worked with Amitji, I was like, 'I'm sharing screen space with him, what can I learn from him?' This was our way of thinking when we were working. I believe this thought process should come back," he added.
Dutt will be seen next in the Kannada movie K.G.F: Chapter 2, the much-awaited follow up to 2019 hit.
Headlined by Kannada superstar Yash, the film will see Dutt in the role of the main antagonist, Adheera.
Dutt said the makers of the sequel approached him out of the blue.
"I got a call one day and these people wanted to come and meet me. I was totally amazed by the character. I asked them how and why they thought of me, they told me that they want only me to play this role. This is an exceptional character. Adheera is so strong as a character that I instantly said yes to it."
Dutt revealed that K.G.F: Chapter Two was "the first ever offer that came from the South".
"I don't know why (I was never approached before)... I believe there is no segmentation today as the whole industry is one big family, which is a good thing for Indian cinema. We now represent the Indian film industry."
Dutt feels Adheera is totally different from Kancha Cheena, the bald-headed antagonist of the Hrithik Roshan-starrer Agneepath.
"This character is as strong as Kancha Cheena was in Agneepath. But where the character is different is his unpredictable nature. He has a different look. Adheera is out there to rightfully claim KGF. He is right in his own way that he wants his kingdom back," he said.
In the film's trailer, Dutt looks extremely menacing as Adheera with braided hair and mustache.
Dutt revealed that he has often looked for parts where the character makes a style statement.
"I search for characters that have a certain style, be it Ballu from Khal Nayak, Ajju from Kaante, Billa from Musafir or Kancha Cheena from Agneepath. But it is always a challenge to get the look right.
"I remember when I did Agneepath, the director told me that he wants me to go bald for the character. I was taken aback and asked him how I could do that. They initially tried using prosthetics but it didn't work out because of the hot weather at the time. I decided to shave my head. Here the challenge was to get tattoos and shlokas written on the head."
K.G.F: Chapter Two will release in Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi on April 14.