British media personality turned actor, Harmeet Sawhney has witnessed success recently with sold-out shows for his recent London theatre stint in ‘Beyond Singularity’. Sawhney, who will soon be seen in a number of theatre projects, spoke to BizAsiaLive.com about his journey so far.
Harmeet, you’ve been involved in all aspects of the media – Radio, TV and now theatre – Tell us how the journey has been for you?
It has been a magical rollercoaster so far. Acting is all about convincing your audience. You are a success the moment people start relating to you. I am a trained Actor, and have always been open to various opportunities, even if that meant starting my career as a Presenter which is technically very different from being an Actor. Acting roles are hard to come by, and often people get disheartened and give up. There is also the risk of being typecast. I chose to ignore the norm and make my own way by continuously working in the entertainment industry in all forms. I grabbed every chance that came my way, whether it was Radio, TV or Theatre. I even worked as an extra in a South Indian film as I believe that no work is too small. My aim has always been to gain experience, as I feel it’s the best way to continuously improve my craft. Being a Presenter first on Radio and then on TV gave me a chance to connect with a wider audience, develop my strengths and improve my weaknesses. Each step I have made has been a solid foundation for the next phase. I am proud of where and how I started and all the work I’ve done so far. It has been a distinctive and unparalleled journey, filled with moments that teach me and mould me every day.
After leaving Sunrise Radio, you joined B4U Music as a presenter – what fond memories do you share from your presenting background?
I can never forget the first time I operated a radio fader during a live show. That adrenaline rush will always be a fond memory in my presenting background. Being live on national Radio is extremely thrilling and rewarding. I often had listeners calling in who showered love and blessings on me. It made me realise the true power of entertainment, and I felt gifted to possess such a talent. B4U has given me an enormous platform, one where I am allowed to grow with each show, interview and observe world famous artists. I got to interview my wife Rekha on TV for a film festival she was performing at earlier this year. Standing next to each other in front of the camera, living our dreams together, is the promise we made to ourselves 13 years ago when we first met.
You’ve recently been seen as the male lead in the English play ‘Beyond Singularity’. Again, another incredible step in your successful media and entertainment career – tell us how this project came about?
I saw a poster for the play on social media and was intrigued by the title and concept. I instantly messaged the Writer-Director who had shared the poster and expressed my interest. I was fortunate enough to be called for an audition however they were considering me to play the role of a journalist in the play due to my existing presenting experience. While reading lines, I happened to read the lead character lines, and blatantly told both the Directors that I wanted to play the lead role. They weren’t sure of my abilities at that point and were also concerned that playing the main lead meant dedicating a huge amount of time for rehearsals and homework, which I didn’t have. I was insistent and extremely persuasive and requested them to let me audition before making a final decision. They already had someone else in mind for the lead role, however they decided to try me out thanks to my shameless relentlessness! One audition led to a few others, and before I knew it I got a text from the Director with the good news.
They already had someone else in mind for the lead role, however they decided to try me out thanks to my shameless relentlessness!
How have you found the switch from presenting to performing on stage?
It has been stimulating and I’ve absolutely loved every second. Theatre has been the hardest yet the most inspiring experience of my career so far. As this was my first time on stage, I decided to unlearn everything I knew, and surrender to the Director’s vision. We had two Directors in this play, one who concentrated on the technical side, and the other on the emotional / expressive aspect. On a daily basis I had to rehearse a variety of techniques right from the basics of maintaining open body language, to voice modulation without stretching my vocal chords. Each word, expression and dramatic pause I used was scrutinised and reasoned by the Directors for over 6 months. It got to a stage where I was dreaming about the character, and almost forgot who I really am. I found myself saying the dialogues in normal conversation for a week even after the shows were over! Apart from the exhausting physical effort, it’s an almost dangerous mental switch that can leave you in a vulnerable state. I have now found a new level of respect for Theatre Actors having experienced what they go through regularly on a long-term basis.
How was the response to your three ‘Beyond Singularity’ shows in London?
We opened to a full-house on our first show and tickets were still being requested online half an hour before the last show, all thanks to word of mouth. Everything fell in to place for us as a team; the humour of the dialogues, the futuristic story, thrilling twists and so on, resulting in a standing ovation. We couldn’t have asked for more. We all had great fun on stage, and the public response was outstanding. I believe that the combined effect of each and every character, the background music and imagery, the script, the direction and the story impressed the audience and this just shows the importance of a collaborative and focused company. The beauty of theatre is that an actor feels like a part of the audience once the curtains close. We interacted with the crowds and reverted to our “real” selves. The response from all was very warm and appreciative and everyone was full of smiles and love. We were also so grateful for the social media reviews and responses.
The beauty of theatre is that an actor feels like a part of the audience once the curtains close. We interacted with the crowds and reverted to our “real” selves.
Will you be taking ‘Beyond Singularity’ on tour in other parts of the UK or even outside the country?
That is the dream. A majority of the responses we received are requesting a UK tour. It’s a thought provoking concept that will intrigue people from all diversities. The Producer is very keen on taking this around the country, and is looking to collaborate with regional Theatre and Event groups. A Web-series based on the play is also on the cards, and the team is working on adapting the script at the moment.
With radio, TV and theatre all ticked off from your bucket list – what next awaits Harmeet Sawhney?
I want to be able to act and present in all forms. I plan to continue working as a Presenter on B4U Music, and look for new exciting acting roles at the same time. I will be seen next in Hansal Mehta’s international film “Omerta” which is having a world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival this September. I play a small but prominent role in the character of “Abdul” opposite Rajkummar Rao. Radio, TV, Theatre, Films – my hunger to succeed in all forms increases constantly. Talent should have no limits, and I want to be that individual who can present himself in every way possible, break all boundaries and pave the way for my contemporaries.