Indian-Australian actor Mahesh Jadu on his big Holly break in I, Frankenstein

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By PRIYANKA ROY
  • Published 26.01.14
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Mahesh Jadu as Ophir in I, Frankenstein

How did I, Frankenstein (releasing in India on January 31) come your way?

I don’t know how it happens in India, but here in Australia, actors like me go to a series of auditions every week. With this one, I went in for an audition and luckily, the director (Stuart Bettie) wanted another one and so I just kept going at it and I was excited by the fact that the film had a strong story at its centre. Then finally, I was told that I had got the part and that was pretty exciting.

What’s your role about?

Well, I play a character called Ophir who is a gargoyle, that is a creature that “lives” on the stonework of a cathedral. If you go to a church, then you will most often see a gargoyle on its stonework and though it looks pretty much grotesque, its function more often than not is to protect humans from evil elements. In this film, these gargoyles protect humans against demons.

In the middle of all of this is our protagonist Aaron Eckhart who plays Adam and he comes from a story that we are familiar with, that is, the legend of Frankenstein. Anyone who hasn’t read the book, I really recommend it because the film has a modern twist which you can enjoy a lot more if you are familiar with the book.

 

Have you been a Frankenstein fan?

Actually, I had read it when I was much younger and I also remember watching one of the films made on the book. It’s a very sad and a very human story which throws up the big question: ‘Who am I?’ This is pretty much the universal question that governs our very existence.

Would you count I, Frankenstein as your breakthrough role?

I really don’t know. I am just taking very small and steady, almost baby steps. I don’t have the biggest part in this film, but it’s definitely one of the most important parts. I, Frankenstein is definitely a step up for me, it’s a definite progress in my career.

How was it sharing screen space with Aaron Eckhart, who has been a part of big films like The Dark Knight?

Aaron, like you say, has been a part of really big films and has had a very successful career. And it isn’t an accident with people like Aaron because when you work with him, you can see how much hard work he’s put in to be where he is. He’s very dedicated with a very simple formula: ‘Just get the job done well’. In my scenes with him, I had to go in very well prepared because if you don’t keep pace with him, he can just eat you up! He just set aside six months, two to three hours everyday, to prepare a stick-fighting sequence that is there in the film. He’s never done martial arts before, but the way he trained for and has done it on screen, you would be compelled to believe that he’s been doing it all his life.

 

Would you say you have evolved as an actor from your first film Taj to the TV show Neighbours to I, Frankenstein?

Yes, there definitely has been some sort of improvement. My very first role was that of a puppeteer in the Australian outback and that’s a period of your life when you feel you know it all and you can do it all. As you keep doing parts, you learn newer things about the profession and then you realise how little you know! The formula just lies in sticking with it and having the confidence to keep doing it every time you face the camera.

 

Was acting always on the radar?

I have been watching a lot of films ever since I was kid… I have been brought up on a staple diet of world cinema and that includes Indian films too. The thought of becoming an actor was always there at the back of my mind from ever since I can remember. I have an interest in writing and directing as well someday. I want to explore all sides of my creativity.

 

Your big break was supposed to be Roland Joffe’s Singularity with Josh Hartnett and Bipasha Basu. You must be very disappointed with the delay in its release…

Yeah, I guess. I had a lot of good experiences on the film. As a project, it’s the best one can be a part of, what with Roland Joffe directing and Josh Hartnett acting. Sometimes, with a big project like this that involves production by more than one country, problems may crop up. It’s just part of the game. But the last I heard, they were working around it and trying to release it as soon as possible.

 

Are you familiar with current Indian cinema?

I try and keep up as much as I can, wherever I am. The last one I watched was something I went back to after I first watched it as a kid… and that was Shashi Kapoor’s Junoon. The recent Indian film that I watched was Dhoom:3.

 

Do you ever see yourself in something like a Dhoom?

Maybe! (Laughs) It would be fun. It could be something as extravagant as Dhoom or something completely arty. I would be game for any film that has a good story to tell.