Soaring reviews from Sundance on his film “Patti Cake$” has made Siddharth Dhananjay an instant star. In the 28 days of shooting this indie, Dhananjay found his real passion for acting and another family in the process. What’s next? As soon as he gets his visa, “the possibilities are endless!”
How did you get your start in acting? When did you know you wanted to be an actor?
My start in acting came from [“Patti Cake$”]! I hadn’t really planned on being an actor. I think working on this movie made me realize that acting is what I should be doing with my life. I fell in love with it.
College seemed to be pretty transformative for you. Can you explain what happened during those years?
I was making these spoof rap videos with two of my friends. We created this fictional rapper that I play in the videos. We were making them purely to entertain ourselves and others around us. Who knew that it would lead to something like Patti Cake$?
How did you get your part in “Patti Cake$”? I’ve read that it took a few years and you took on some odd jobs in the meantime before it was made.
Our director Geremy randomly watched one of these videos we made and reached out to me asking to be a part of this movie. I was just graduating at the time and the movie was in its baby phase. So in between me hearing about the project in 2014 and it actually coming to life in 2016, I was in between New York and Bangalore sort of interning at random places and trying to figure out my life.
What can you tell us about your part without revealing too many spoilers?
I play Jheri, Patti’s best friend/sidekick/number one fan/life coach. I’m the RnB to her rap with a DJ Khaled level confidence and belief in her talent.
Do you have a favorite moment in the film?
I think the scene where Patti meets her rap idol O.Z. is my favorite right now. It changes every time I watch the movie.
How did you prepare for the role?
Actually going to Jersey with Danielle and Geremy really helped me get a feel for the character and where he’s from. The crazy, flamboyant rapper Jheri was easy for me to play; the challenge was to find the inner human beneath all that swag, the guy who really loves his best friend and wants her to succeed.
What was the filming process like? How well did the cast and crew mesh together?
We shot the film in 28 days – really short – but I think what was so special about it was that all of us sort of fell in love with each other and became a little family unit. We talk to each other all the time and have such a blast when we’re all together. I think that chemistry comes out on the screen.
Was there a most memorable moment on set?
One of the most memorable moments on set was the final performance in the movie. It was exciting because we actually got to perform in front of 200 people. We did it over and over again, like maybe 20 times. I was so exhausted by the end of it because I’m basically just jumping around the whole time, but it was so much fun because we got to feed off the crowd’s energy and really feel the song. I was dead by the end of it, but it was so worth it.
You also worked on the soundtrack for the movie. How special was it to be a part of another side of the whole production?
It was really a dream come true. I come from a musical background, so to be able to go in to the studio and play with the songs and record them was so much fun. Just to be able to be a part of that and be in the room when the music was coming together, it was truly special.
“Patti Cake$” was called a “Sundance stunner.” What did it feel like to get such warm reception on your premiere?
It’s been quite overwhelming! I really can’t watch this movie objectively, you know? When I watch it, I just see all the great time we had that summer with all of these amazing people. So to have people come up to you and tell you how much they enjoyed the movie, it feels so nice. Like, wow, everybody else loves it just as much as we do! It’s been pretty amazing.
How crazy has this year been for you since Sundance? Has there been a pinch me moment so far along this journey?
It’s been a wild ride for sure. I don’t think I’ve had the time yet to step back and really take in and appreciate all the incredible stuff that has happened. I’m still on this dreamy roller coaster ride. Don’t pinch me!
What can fans expect from you in the near future?
Because I’m not American, I’m currently working on securing my visa to work as an actor here. Once that is settled, who knows what I’ll get up to. The possibilities are endless!
Watch the trailer for “Patti Cake$” below!