Two of his films — Black Friday and Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd — released within a fortnight. The films are as different as night and day but we’re not complaining..since Kay Kay hasn’t been seen or heard at the ‘plexes since Corporate:
Promoting a film like you did in the case of Honeymoon.. must be more tiring than shooting for it.
Yes, but these days the producers have to go the whole hog for the promotion. It’s even a part of the actors’ contract which says that they should be present during the promotions and publicity. There’s no escaping that.
How has the response been to Black Friday?
Stupendous. I’m proud of the audience. Not only did they grasp the nuances of what it was saying but they also gave it the respect it deserved.
When Parzania faced problems a day after its release, I was worried about Black Friday. But the audience has shown its maturity. Now, I can safely say that all kinds of cinema can co-exist peacefully. There is place for every genre.
Black Friday achieved the balance between being a journalistic document and aesthetic cinema. I have seen films like Munich, based on real incidents but it was still a fictional story. Or there was Fahrenheit 9/11 which was a doc umentary but Anurag (Kashyap) blended the documentary and the cinematic elements finely.
<b1>How demanding was it to be part of a film based on real events?
When you’re playing a real person in a film based on real incidents, you can only ‘be’ the character, not ‘become’ it. There is no room for an actor’s ego there. At that moment, all I must do is strip myself naked emotionally.
Also Anurag always helps in finding the fourth or the fifth dimension to a character which you may not have grasped when you read the script.
Were you in Bombay when the blasts happened?
No, I was in Pune for my dad’s 60th birthday but I returned the day after. My parents were worried but I couldn’t have stayed away from my city, my workplace.
When the city you live in and where you work is going through a problem, you want to be around, you want to be there.
Do you see any hope for the release of Paanch now?
No, I don’t hope for anything. I just let it be. Every film has its destiny. I didn’t think Black Friday would take two long years to release, I’m sure Paanch will see the light of day when it must.
Did Sarkar help you?
Yes, it gave a fillip to my popularity. I was happy with the way my character shaped up. What was narrated to me and what finally came out was more, not less.
What’s the reaction of the man on the street to you? Can you safely eat paani puri?
(Laughs) Yes. People recognise me though it’s not the shirt phaad kind of popularity as I call it. They walk up to me and appreciate my performance, quietly. Thankfully, there is no awe in their behaviour towards me, it’s normal. They haven’t put me on a pedestal yet.
Are the roles you’ve been offered changed today?
No, mainstream cinema still sees the evil in me. I am still the antagonist. But yes, if I am doing a Deewaar then I’m also in Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi and if there is Sarkar then there is a Dansh. I have been able to balance my roles, I’m not completely branded, mercifully.
<b3>Do you think with big banners backing films of new directors, there is hope of chiffon cinema giving way to another idiom of filmmaking?
Not really. It becomes very important for a filmmaker not to have only one signature.
When you are making films for a production house that’s known for its gloss and grandeur, a certain amount of a synthetic quality is unavoidable. But that’s fine as long as it’s done with conviction. I have done escapist cinema too, it’s fun.
Does being part of escapist cinema also give you a chance to take yourself less seriously?
I never take myself seriously. Anyway, I am serious about my work. What next? Drona, in which I am the antagonist. It’s a fantasy thriller. And then there are Metro, Via Darjeeling, Anurag Basu’s Gulal which is almost complete. It’s on student politics, patriotism and a whole lot of other things. And there’s BBD with Sandhya Mridul and Naseer.