When he started off his radio career, little did this humorist know he’d be on stage winning an award for his acting chops. From growing up watching glitzy award shows to now receiving the SIIMA for best debutante in Kannada for his role in Humble Politician Nograj, Danish Sait has come a long way.
Bagging the SIIMA felt surreal, he says. “When you expect, you’re setting yourself up for disappointments. Accolades can never be the centerpiece of your life. Good work has to be. Everything is a byproduct of enjoying what you do. I grew up watching many award shows as a kid, so it was an incredible feeling to win an award,” says Danish, who calls life a great leveller, now that he’s back to Bengaluru, selling tickets for his next comedy show.
Danish credits the unwavering support he receives from his mother Yasmin Sait and his actor-emcee sister Kubrra for making it this far. “We are not from this world, so for us, these things mean a lot. Everyone around me knew how hard I worked towards it, so when my peers and colleagues thought I deserved it, it felt great. A college friend called up after eons and said – ‘Dude, we grew up watching these shows and had no idea that one of us would pick it up one day!’” says Danish, who’s thrilled about having bagged the award on his mother’s birthday.
Does this win change things for him, or add pressure? “Not really. I will always be the guy who has nothing to lose. I’m grateful for the moment, but you have to come back to the reality of life and still continue persisting with what you’re doing. The fact that everyone sees something that I don’t see in myself is an honour,” he says.
Danish has finished work on his second film, produced by Puneeth Rajkumar. The yet-to-be-titled film will see him recreate his popular radio character Asgar on the big screen. Is he wary of being stereotyped as someone who only brings to life his radio characters? “No, even in Humble Politician Nograj, there was reasonable scope for acting, and I’d like to believe that I’m pretty competent at it. I’m happy to do other stuff, but it needs to be cool and edgy. I don’t understand big budget films, they’re not something I’ve grown up wanting to do,” says the Bengalurean, whose heroes growing up were not the filmy superstars that are conventionally looked up to. “Gaurav Kapur, Cyrus Sahukar, Cyrus Broacha–these are the people I grew up admiring. I still remember wanting to be on MTV as a kid. Sacha Baren Cooen and Will Ferrell are also people I look up to,” he says.
The comic who juggles many roles wants to stick to content that makes him happy. With HPN having a devoted following, Danish and the film’s director Saad Khan are now working on a sequel. “We’re writing the script for Humble Politician 2 along with Applause Entertainment, which produced the recent show Mind the Malhotras. I’m also doing Afsos, an Amazon Prime series where I play Jim, a Russian assassin.”
As someone who’s battled depression and anxiety over the last decade, Danish says that he’s in a much better place now. “The last decade has been pretty crazy. I didn’t invite depression, but it came to me–I tried to fight it, but it tore me down further. But now I’m in a much better space mentally–I’m more self-aware, so when I’m having a downer, I know how to handle myself better. I’m way better than I ever was. I used to run around with bodyaches because of my anxiety and I kept hurting. But now I wake up without body pain, without feeling much pressure–I’m eating and sleeping well, these are all signs of improvement,” he smiles. The artiste with the gift of the gab has also changed as a son, he admits. “Now when I’m arguing with my mother, I ask myself –why am I even battling with her? Why the ego? Why rake up a storm, sometimes, it’s okay to lose in life. We don’t have to win all the time. Today, my mum can come home and discuss her troubles with me. Before, I’d never call to check how her physiotherapy etc went, not because I was a bad son, but because it never struck me as something I should do,” he says.
Danish’s other big interest and area of work is cricket. Not only is he RCB’S Insider ‘Nags’, he also was a host and interviewer at Cricbuzz and travelled to the UK for the World Cup. “I was able to be in my skin and speak enough cricket. They had a line-up of experts, and to have my name among them was very special. It was a phenomenal experience where I met many people from different parts of the world. You realise what sports can do to people… I met fans from Afghanistan, a war-torn country where sports has given children hope. Their fans are so different from ours–for us, it’s all about winning, but for them, it’s about playing for joy. It’s incredible to see how perspectives change with geography and the geo-political atmosphere,” he says, signing off.