'It was like a picnic'
Read more below
- Published 11.08.09
What prompted you to return to acting after so long? Your last film, Ketan Mehta’s Holi, was ages ago...
That was 25 years ago! But I have kept myself alive on the FTII (Film and Television Institute of India, Pune) campus. Holi was in 1984... I continued to be in the institute till 1993. Cinema is the best teacher and so I just settled under the wisdom tree at FTII, the famous bodhi tree there. And on the side, I did 110 student films in that period as an actor! So acting actually never went out of my system.
Kaminey I did because I really liked Vishal (Bhardwaj). For me it was a picnic. I didn’t do it as a comeback to acting or anything. I am not a career person. I lived the life of a painter for 10 years. That’s me.
Did you later ask Vishal why he was fixated on having you play the bad guy?
No, I thought it would be rude to ask him that. Rather I chose to take it to the next level by trying to interpret the character my way. I fleshed it out a lot in terms of characterisation. I tried to bring in my own references from European cinema and Japanese cinema, from Toshiro Mifune... to try and inject this character with a whole lot of aura.
So how would you describe your character, Sunil ‘Chopper’?
Mercurial yaar! In essence dodging the frame. It’s a physical delight for an actor. Keeping the frame unpredictable. The character provided the right foil to actually give it the rage sometimes, the anguish sometimes. It goes all over the emotional rainbow.
Vishal is said to be an auteur when it comes to his cinema. Was it easy to collaborate with him?
Oh, fabulously! It’s a simple thing. I am going there as an actor. It’s not like two directors are on the sets. I am conscious of the fact that he is the skipper and he knows I am just the medium. And why just me? There are such fabulous actors including the three from Bengal — Rajatava, Debu and Chandan. It’s a great ensemble cast.
How would you rate Shahid and Priyanka?
Shahid’s got the genetic coding from his father (Pankaj Kapur). He has the ability to react. Not just act. He can keep the flame of the frame alive. He is present in every frame. This happens only with seasoned theatre actors. But I find this happening with both Shahid and Priyanka. The kind of chemistry I have with Priyanka as siblings, that needs to be breathed in, needs to be absorbed to feel real. And they actually have no starry airs. No star vanity, which was like ‘thank god’!
Are you game for more “acting picnics”?
Not really. I am almost done with my script Sapnon Ko Ginte Ginte. Then I will have to open out to a star. So that’s my priority. But then again, this time last year, I had no idea that I would act in a film. Come on, I am not Robert De Niro or Laurence Olivier. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. After Kaminey releases, people may say it’s a f*** all film. So I would not like to give wings to any fancy. Let it flow.
Do you still harbour negative feelings about Taare Zameen Par and Aamir Khan for taking over the directorial reins?
No, not at all. People want to see what they want to see. I have moved on. I am only concentrating on my film. It will again be about the triumph of a kid against adversities but the tapestry here will be completely dark.