He’s distraught that producer Ravi Walia and distributors Percept Pictures did not give his directorial debut Allah Ke Banday the promotional push it needed after the release was postponed by three weeks following a run-in with the censors. But even his star actors, Sharman Joshi and Naseeruddin Shah, didn’t publicise the film as expected. Apparently, they were miffed with him for editing their roles to showcase his acting prowess.
Star support The allegation draws a guffaw from Faruk Kabir. “Naseersaab saw the film recently with his family and hugged me after the screening. He’s been a huge support all through. As for Sharman, he was the one who, along with Ravi, pushed me into playing Yakub,” he says.
Kabir informs that he had approached several actors for the role he eventually played, including Shreyas Talpade, Kunal Khemu, Siddharth of Rang De Basanti fame, and even Imran Khan. But 14 days before the film was to go on the floors, he still didn’t have his adult Yakub.
“By that time, we’d had some workshops and my team trusted me. Sharman and Ravi suggested I take on the role, and Naseersaab and Atul (Kulkarni) concurred. That’s how I came to be on screen even though I had only aspired to be a writer-director,” he says.
Kabir adds that in terms of screen time, Vijay, played by Joshi, had the longest role. Yakub in comparison disappears for long periods in the second half as Vijay entreats the teacher for help, negotiates with the editor, bumps into the jailer and romances his girl.
“None of Sharman’s or Naseersaab’s scenes were cut. If anyone had to have a grouse, it would be Atul Kulkarni whose one scene was cut out because it was getting a little preachy and repetitive,” Kabir reasons. Shades of Sholay A song filmed on him, ‘Kala jaadu…’ was also left out because he felt it did not take the story forward: “My producer and distributors were after me to put it back but I refused. You can see it on YouTube, it’s a big hit.”
Kabir admits that the relationship between Vijay and Yakub in the film had shades of Jai-Veeru from Sholay. “In the same mould, Vijay is quiet and restrained like Jai while Yakub is boisterous and a little crazy. He endears himself by saving the children and sacrificing his life. People like characters like his, which is perhaps why when I went to the theatres, I was greeted by cries of ‘Yakub bhai, Yakub bhai,’” he points out.
The performance has already fetched him a nomination in the Best Debutant category. However, Kabir has no plans to further his acting career. “I’m working on three screenplays. You should hear an announcement soon. But as a director, not an actor,” he smiles. “Now tell me I cut someone’s scenes!”