In 1996, he virtually made an entire generation groove to the pulsating beats of Chhappa Chhappa Charcha Kare in his debut film, Maacchis. His portrayal of a disillusioned, soft-hearted terrorist in the same film received many accolades including the Filmfare Best Debut Award. His second release, Tere Mere Sapne also proved to be a box office hit, and there was no looking back for Bollywood’s new chocolate boy ever since. A string of stellar performances followed, such as Daag - The Fire with Sanjay Dutt, Josh alongside Aishwarya Rai and Shah Rukh Khan and Kya Kehna in tandem with Preity Zinta. It would be no exaggeration to state that each one of these films gained the status of cult classics, and what was once a new face had, within the span of four years, evolved into Bollywood’s teen sensation and heartthrob.
And thus, Chandrachur Singh had arrived!
Top left: A poster of Singh's debut film Maachis (photo courtesy: Amazon) Top right: A still from Josh (photo courtesy: JustDial)
However, just when the young star was gliding upon his wave of success, a serious shoulder impairment, coupled with a series of box office setbacks relegated the critically-acclaimed and commercially lauded actor into an indefinite sabbatical. But Singh knew in his heart that a true actor must know how to sustain hiatuses in his/her career as long as he stayed true to his art. And just like the unyielding fizz in a cauldron of uncertainty, Singh would continue to rise.
His decade-long wait ended when Mira Nair cast him in her film, The Reluctant Fundamentalist. The following year, Kumar’s Zila Ghaziabad showcased Singh’s mettle, which had only strengthened over the years. But before he could heave a sigh of relief, his patience was fated to extend over another seven years before he dazzled his audience in his digital debut as Tej Sareen opposite Sushmita Sen in the currently trending web series Aarya on Disney+Hotstar. Ram Madhwanis 'Aarya is loosely inspired by the Dutch drama series Penoza by Peter Bart Korthuis. and has received tremendous praise for its finesse. Shot on locations in and around Jaipur, Udaipur and Mumbai, Aarya is a multi-layered project which delves way beyond its professed crime-thriller theme.
When asked about his pilot web series, Singh exclaims- “It was a wonderful serendipity! I have always been a huge fan of Ram Madhwani, so when the opportunity arose to be part of Aarya, I instinctively accepted the offer.” He goes on to share that incidentally, Madhvani had designed Aarya much before his signature hit, Neerja, and pictured Kajol in the lead. Singh was to collaborate with Sushmita Sen on three separate projects but all failed to materialize. “So I was rather pleased when I finally got a chance to be her co-star. I am a firm believer of the divine and feel that there is always a right time and place for everything”, he graciously adds.
In tandem, Singh concludes by sharing his perspective on the recent boom of OTT (Over The Top) media services: “Good quality work doesn’t necessarily need to be defined by any one particular medium. The OTT boom has definitely put the focus on stories; there is a lot of content-driven material that is coming out now. It is an interesting time for an actor, for there is no longer any typecasting as was the scenario earlier. On the contrary, web series enable one with the liberty to enrich a character with multiple dimensions and creatively speaking, that is very fulfilling for an actor”.
Right: A still from Singh's latest project Aarya (photo courtesy: Disney+Hotstar)
A cinematic buff would be able to spot striking similarities in Singh’s account with Sam Mendes’ 1917, which won worldwide praise for its iconic cinematography and its singularly shot narrative, sans any cuts or retakes. Similarly, Anurag Basu’s Barfi! represented the commercial enchantment of Bollywood upon adapting various scripts and commanding them with instinctual spontaneity. Aarya is the understated national variant of a similar style, and displays the tremendous possibilities that artists know not only how to seize, but also create.