Tete-a-tete with Olivier ‘Suhas’ Lafont

We bring to you an interview with Olivier Lafont – a multi talented actor known for his role as ‘Suhas’ in the extremely popular bollywood movie 3 Idiots among many other things.

Q1. Firstly, a very warm welcome from Ideasmakemarket.com team. You have come a long way and made your mark as a film and television actor, writer, screenplay writer, model, voice over artist, director, producer. What enthuses you most among all these?

I consider myself primarily a storyteller, someone who loves to hear stories and loves to create them. All the things I do are slightly different aspects of storytelling, and fulfill different things for me. Acting, for example, is open, public, external, while writing is private and internal.

Q2. Tell us something people don’t know about you.

I’m a pretty ardent fan of the UFC. I consider MMA one of the purest expressions of sport and competition, and the UFC is its most dynamic and popular structure. At the same time I’m ideologically opposed to violence. Go figure!

Q3. You must have grownup listening to lots of historical stories from Dr. Jean-Marie Lafont. How has that shaped your childhood?

Tremendously. My interest in history and passion for mythology have come from my father’s own passion for those areas. History is such a fascinating subject, is so full of incredible personalities and astounding events. I find it particularly interesting to juxtapose historical fact with the high drama of fantasy fiction, weaving the two together to create a story like ‘Warrior’ where the fact gives added substance to fiction.

Q4. Being a graduate from Colgate University and making it to the Dean’s list in all eight of the semesters, how do you find the on-the-job experience different from the learning from the university?

I think they’re different in this respect: academic learning actually has low stakes, a bunch of marks on paper; whereas on-the-job experience deals with ‘real’ stakes like money, customer satisfaction, deadlines, service, product creation, marketing, and distribution… Which is why there are people who don’t do so well in school but go out in life and become spectacular successes, and on the other end of the spectrum those people who performed really well in school but find it difficult to stand out in the ‘real world’.

Q5. What inspired you to write your first script which won seven international awards , Hari Om?

I had written some scripts before, one of which was actually the first incarnation of my book ‘Warrior’.

For ‘Hari Om’ the original idea was the director Bharat Bala’s, who had done many award-winning ads and videos before and was eager to make his first feature. He brought back the spark of the idea from a shoot in Jodhpur and handed it to me with infectious excitement. I then developed it into the script that became ‘Hari Om’, adding to and layering it with the ideas and structure and style that came naturally to me at that time.

Q6. You have worked in TV serials, Commercials, Hollywood movies and Bollywood movies. Tell us some memorable incidents from those.

I remember the vibe on the sets of ‘3 Idiots’. There was an energy, a common purpose, a simultaneous ease and focus that was particularly motivating. Everyone was there to make a better film, a better scene, a better line of dialogue. Whether it was shaking the bejeezus out of Sharman Joshi (who, after each take, would grin and say, “Shake me harder!”) or shouting in the face of the very sporting Kareena Kapoor at 4 a.m., everyone had such an exceptionally positive state of mind.

Q7. ‘3 Idiots’ and ‘Gujaarish’ being movies of very different genre, what did it take to prepare to act in such movies?


 I prepared the roles differently. For ‘3 Idiots’s Suhas Tandon, the role of the character in the context of the story, I drew on French theatre’s tradition of physical comedy, comédie de mœurs, to create an exaggerated and slightly buffoonish character.

 ‘Guzaarish’ is a serious drama, and Father Samuel had to present the voice of structured religion against the main character Ethan. At the same time Father Samuel is the local priest, so it was about striking a balance between being a likeable person and asserting the authority he represents. I generally treated it more realistically and humanly, with just a hint of the bumble you find in Italian films when they depict small-town priests.

 Q8. Who has been the inspiration behind your upcoming novel ‘Warrior’?

 There’s no particular person who inspired ‘Warrior’. My hero Saam, you could say, is inspired by all the heroes in all the stories I’ve imbibed during the course of my life. You may find traces of Arjun in him, of Hamlet, of Aragorn son of Arathorn, of Conan the Cimmerian.

 Q9. You are an inspiration for many of the readers. What would you advise the young MBAs and entrepreneurs in the making?

          That’s really kind of you to say. The only advice I could possibly give is the advice I try to follow in my own life: to follow what interests me, and to know why I’m doing what I’m doing. I find it applies to every aspect of my life, and it has only helped me going forward.

(Interviewed by Anuradha Srivastava)


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