SukhRaj Deepak: Sky is Not the Limit in Acting 

By Rekha Rajvanshi

I first met SukhRaj in 2014, on the set of Jhappi Times  –  a commercial for Destination NSW, particularly aimed at Indian Audience. He was playing the lead role. When I spoke to him briefly, I came to know about his other assignments as an actor. His role as Grandpa in the Movie ”“ One Less God impressed me last year. I decided to interview him then and finally met him at his Malabar home this year. I was impressed the moment I stepped into the lush green entrance of his house, and the peaceful garden in the yard where he conducts yoga, pranayama and meditation classes each morning and evening, known as ‘The Light of Yoga’ centre.  

Sukhraj is a known face in Australia now. He has acted in more than fifty TV commercials, TV serials and films. His latest film was One Less God (2017). He also acted in popular serials Top of the Lake (2013) and Better Man (2013).

Claiming to have the innocence of a child, heart of a teenager, body of a sixty year old and the wisdom of a hundred years old, here is what SukhRaj has to say about his life and his work:

Tell us something about yourself

I was born and brought up in Punjab. I completed my Graduate degree in Psychology (Honours) with a Gold Medal. I did my Master’s in Business Management from the University of Delhi.  I had a very successful Career in Fashion and Textiles with many overseas expatriate assignments. My last job was in a multinational textile group in Indonesia before migrating to Australia in 1998. I got into acting career accidentally (laughs).

How did you become an actor then?

I got a chance for acting purely by chance. I was working with Packers who owned channel 9 early 2000. Their executives saw me in the office and I was asked to come to channel 9 studio for a screen test. I did not know then what a screen test was. It was a surprise to me when I got selected for a corporate video. And the rest is history… .

How old were you when you started your acting career?

I got serious about acting in 2003 after I lost my job with Packers. I was undergoing mid-life crisis and was diagnosed with diabetes. It was the time for me to slow down, look for a career change. I was 52 then. I would say acting rather came to me, late in life though… like a second option.

Think back to your first audition. What was it like?

My first audition was for ABC channel, it was a commercial for them. I kind of enjoyed it as  I already had a lot of training for acting auditions at NIDA.

These days we believe that acting can be learned.  Did you ever take acting classes?

Yes, I joined acting course in NIDA in 2003. I believe that acting is a talent which can be nurtured by the formal training. I still keep my skills up-to-date by attending courses and workshops. In fact, I have also been taking Drama classes at Coast Centre in Little Bay. You cannot afford to be rusty in this profession.

What is the hardest part about acting?

Learning my lines is the hardest part of acting. I am getting better and better at it though. “Sheersasana” – the Head Stand, the king of all Yoga postures has been helping me a lot in augmenting my memory.

You have acted in commercials as well as in feature films, what is the difference?

Commercials are quick feedback, cost vs. benefits for the client. Some commercials like Master Card  and Mt. Franklin  have been running for years. Working with Jennifer Hawkins in Mt. Franklin is always a pleasure. I would say commercials are good, steady income, quick feedback and sometime rollover for many years.

Sukhraj with Jennifer Hawkins

Movies, on the other hand is a labour of love, long term. You are never sure which way the movie would go when you are shooting for it. For example, the film One Less God was shot some four/five years ago and it is now being shown in the cinemas.

Do you have any other hobbies besides acting?

Yoga, Pranayama (breathing exercises), and Meditation are my passions. I meditate each day with the Sunrise and end my day doing Yoga during Sunset. My other hobbies are reading, writing, swimming, walking and badminton.

What has been your greatest accomplishment as an actor?

My greatest accomplishment as an actor has been winning two awards in Hollywood for the movie One Less God – The Best Movie and The Grand Jury Award. I was also nominated for the Best Actor in Supporting Role by AACTA.

My most favourite role was, playing as Gandhi in the TV serial The Icon Avenue.

Have you ever thought of acting in a Bollywood film?

I have worked in a few Bollywood films like Bachna Ai Haseena,  The UniIndian etc. I am always open, ready and excited to work in Bollywood whenever it calls on me. 

Do you have any fans that look up to you? What advice would you give to the young, aspiring actors?

I am grateful for anyone who is looking up to me, but I am not sure I am talented enough to call them my fans.

My advice to young and aspiring actors – well attend my drama classes, Ha Ha Ha… Well, seriously, for all the aspiring actors, be as authentic, as organic as you can. Step into the character from inside out. It is your job to be honest and dedicated to the character… get into his emotions, his circumstances, his thought process, his walking style, his tastes and preferences, his strengths and weaknesses etc. etc. I can go on and on…. in a nutshell, be the character and just don’t play the role.

And first and foremost – be a good listener.

Your upcoming projects

I am booked for a third TV Commercial for Mt. Franklin with Jennifer Hawkins, another commercial for Budget Insurance. I have also auditioned for the role of a doctor in a movie.  After 16 years of hard work, I would say sky is not the limit if we decide to work hard with our full honesty.

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