From playing the role of a ruthless villain in Parinda (1990) to essaying the part of an eccentric gangster in Welcome (2007), Nana Patekar has proved his acting prowess time and again. Even though he has an enviable body of work, and multiple National Awards to his credit, the 64-year-old likes keeping a low profile.
Here, he gets candid about his style of working, his 42-year-long journey in the film industry, and more.
Why do you stay out of the limelight?
That has helped me survive [in the film industry] for 42 long years. If you are seen often, it’s not possible for you to last long. I don’t want to be in the news for no reason.
Did stardom never mean anything to you?
When the camera is on, I am an actor; otherwise, I am an ordinary person. Stardom is temporary. Someday, it will fade away, and then it will become difficult to deal with life without it. So, it doesn’t matter to me even if I travel in an auto rickshaw. There was a time when I couldn’t even afford an auto rickshaw ride.
Your frank nature has often led to controversies and differences with many people in the film industry.
I have seen several hardships since I was a child. As a result, I don’t perceive things the way most people do. So, if a director or a producer tries to convince me about a certain thing, which I feel is not correct, then we end up fighting. I’m sure people cast me out of compulsion. They know that if they sign me, they have to suffer me as well (laughs). I’m a little tough [to work with].
In 2010, you set up a Twitter account to promote your film, Tum Milo Toh Sahi. Since then, you haven’t been too active on the platform. Why?
Expressing your views on social media doesn’t solve any problem. You have to do something about the issue. What is important is what you are actually doing to solve that problem. I would rather go to the root cause of an issue, and find a solution, rather than just comment on it.
Are you concentrating more on Marathi films these days?
No. I just did a film called Natsamrat, in which I played the lead. In Marathi cinema, people are doing some amazing work these days. You get the chance to do what you feel like doing. That is important. Otherwise, you are in a rat race to prove that you are an actor, and [you have to keep] boasting about yourself. When you can afford to be choosy, then why not?
Are you in favour of the number of remakes being produced in Bollywood these days?
We have exhausted all our emotions. We have no power left to create, and are more into making easy money. So, we are into remakes. It’s not that we don’t have stories. We have writers, but we are apprehensive about making films based on their stories because the makers are not sure of the return on investment. And everyone has this fear — be it the producer, the director or the stars.
What made you choose Anees Bazmee’s comedy film?
Sometimes when you do films that deal with serious material, you get fatigued because, obviously, you borrow the problems of the character and feel that they are yours. So, it’s not possible to be yourself. You get tired in the process. And then you get films like this upcoming comedy, where you can unwind.
So, will we see you in light-hearted films more often?
It’s not possible for me to get into this genre frequently. I can’t... I need to connect with certain things [to perform].
You had earlier said that you want to direct a film that would be “unlike Nana”.
I am still writing it. In Bollywood, a love story means that you are hugging and kissing all the time. But I think that when you are truly in love, you don’t need to say or do anything. I don’t believe in the physical [aspect].[My film is] a love story, but it shows my perception of it.