In Bollywood, there’s plenty of scope for multi-tasking. So while actors are turning producers, and producers are turning directors, an increasing number of directors are trying their hand at acting. And it isn’t just about cameos anymore — many of them have bagged meaty roles in upcoming films.
Karan Johar stars in Anurag Kashyap’s next, even as Anurag gears up to act in a film with Sonakshi Sinha.
Kunal Kohli is making his acting debut in a romantic movie, and Farah Khan has already played the lead role in Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi (2012).
Directors Amole Gupte and Tigmanshu Dhulia have also dabbled in acting. The foremost example is of Farhan Akhtar, who entered the industry as a director, but is better known as an actor these days.
But does casting directors actually help a film’s prospects at the box office? "When known directors decide to act, they bring a lot more to the table. Being directors themselves, they understand the needs of their directors better. Hence, in many cases, they are able to perform better," says trade expert Atul Mohan.
However, Farah feels that in such a scenario, chances of creative differences are high. "When you decide to act, you have to leave the director’s shoes outside the door and enter as an actor. If you think something can be done differently, then you can share your inputs, but you should behave like an actor and follow the director’s instructions," she says, adding, "I’ve got many directors to do cameos in my films, and they’ve been great to work with. For SFKTNP, I was obedient and docile — the way I prefer my actors to behave with me."
Anurag is of the opinion that those who have been behind the camera make for better actors. "A director actually is a very good actor, and only a director can understand why that is so. I thoroughly enjoyed working with Karan, and I am sure he will surprise everyone in my film."
Meanwhile, for Karan, understanding his director’s vision is paramount. "For me, being an actor was both surreal and exciting. And I had no problem being directed by Anurag. Our cinematic sensibilities are completely contrasting, so opposites attracted in the best way possible. I feel he has taught me a lot; it was like being in film school. I enjoyed being on the other side of the camera," he says.