Ali Fazal has been making waves on the international front. How proud does that make you?
It certainly makes me very proud. Although many actors have explored opportunities in Hollywood, not many Indian actors have bagged lead roles. Ali has been receiving appreciation from all sides. There is a lot of diversity in him. On one side, he is doing ‘Death on the Nile’ and on the other side, he is pulling off a desi character like Guddu in ‘Mirzapur’. He has got an opportunity to experiment with his craft and he is doing a really good job.
You both have also started your own production company. What is your mantra of balancing work and personal relationships?
We work in the same field but we rarely talk about work when we are together at home. He is very supportive of the career that I have. If there is anything new happening, he will make it a point to share it with the world. I think these small things matter a lot in a relationship. Instead of being obsessed with yourself, you need to uplift each other and that is how a relationship should be.
Today’s female actors do not shy away from taking a stand on matters of importance. Your thoughts…
Yes and that is a good thing. But I think our predecessors have done more than we can ever imagine. Be it Shabana Azmi who has spent days and nights on the streets while she protested against the demolition of slums or Dilip Kumar who lent his star status to a variety of causes. I cannot imagine anybody doing all this in today’s times. We actors today are nowhere near these legendary actors. We can just try.
You have always been vocal about ageism, sexism, gender bias, pay parity in the Hindi film industry. Are things better now than they were when you first came in?
Yes, sure there are a few changes that have happened over the years. Things are better in some areas while certain aspects remain unchanged. I still think that we have a long way to go. We still have a lot of scope to grow. I don’t want to make a general comment on it.
Unlike earlier, today we have actresses above 40 who are not just standing out with their performances in films but are also shouldering a film on their own. How do you look at this change as an actor?
I look at it as a very necessary thing. When an actress turns 40, it is believed that her career on screen is over. Although the trend is slowly changing now, we still have a very long way to go. While these changes can quickly be seen on OTT, it will take time to come into theatre movies. But I believe we are growing in the right direction as an industry. It will not be long before we too have actresses above 40 leading a big budget film like in Hollywood. We are already halfway, so I hope it will happen soon.
What kind of reactions have you been getting for your performance in ‘The Great Indian Murder’?
The response has been good. People from the film industry and the common people both have equally loved it. It has become the most watched show on OTT right now. So it is quite exciting. I hope the love that people have showered on it keeps increasing multifold.
What attracted you to the show?
I think the combination of the script and the character excited me. The book has been quite popular. It has been written by an acclaimed writer. For all these reasons, I was quite excited to be a part of this. The fact that it is available for people to watch it whenever and wherever they want, is a plus point. I hope the show keeps growing. I have high hopes for season two if there’s any.
You had said that your interest was more in working with Tigmanshu Dhulia…
Yes, I was very interested in working with Tigmanshu Dhulia. Every budding actor who comes to this city with a dream of being an actor has a list of filmmakers they want to work with and Tigmanshu’s name is one of the top names. I was waiting for a chance to collaborate with him. I knew that the character that was offered doesn’t exist in the novel but I still wanted to be a part of the show because of Tigmanshu. Filmmakers like him, when they get a free space like OTT, they really blossom. So I had faith in him that he would create something magical.
You have been a part of some good stories where you have stood out and proved you can shine in relatively smaller roles – be it ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’, ‘Masaan’, ‘Ram Leela’, ‘Sarbjit’, or ‘Panga’. How do you look back at your journey so far?
I believe my journey has been good so far. I feel grateful for whatever I have become and wherever I have reached today. I think it is now that I am finding my voice as an actor. I am a creative person and I need that satisfaction as an actor. I hope my acting grows from strength to strength without worrying about what the film industry feels about it or what trend they want you to follow or what advice they are giving me.
What kind of content do you want to bring forward as a producer?
I want to bring forward content that I would want to watch. I am very clear about it. The things I enjoy watching are the only things I will recommend others to watch. The most important thing for me is the story and then the intention behind making that content. Rest everything comes next for me.
Tell us something about your first production ‘Girls Will Be Girls’…
It is a story of a mother and her daughter. Both of them experience their coming-of-age. It is about their delicate relationship which we rarely get to watch on screen. I think there have been very few films that have explored this relationship on screen. It is often mother-son or father-daughter. So we have attempted something in that direction.
Fans are super excited about ‘Fukrey 3‘. What new can they expect this time?
I don’t know what new things they can expect. It will have similar characters as it is a continuation. It is going to be more fun, that is for sure. I hope people give the same amount of love that they have given the previous parts.