Amol Gupte has received praise for his performance as a Maharashtrian mafioso in Vishal Bharadwaj's recently released dark thriller Kaminey, but when the writer-director was first approached for the role he thought someone was playing a prank on him.
"I thought it was a crank call. A man named Honey introduced himself as Vishal Bharadwaj's casting director and offered me a very important role, in the same space and zone as Langda Tyagi in Omkara. I banged the phone down not believing a word of what he said," Gupte, who scripted the much-acclaimed Taare Zameen Par, told IANS.
But Honey showed up in Gupte's office.
"He had my resume as an actor right from the time in 1981 when I did my first diploma film as an actor. Honey was aware of all my 108 films as an actor in student films, also Ketan Mehta's Holi and Dayal Nihalani's Gurudakshina. They convinced me I was an actor. Finally, I had to meet Vishal. My wife Deepa and I knew Vishal and his wife Rekha from the time I was doing dubbing direction for Kamal Haasan's Chachi 420. And I love his films," he said.
"I could've made a career in acting in Mumbai. But I was wedded to the camera and the lens not as an actor but on much broader level. For 10 years, I shifted to painting and lived the life of a painter."
Gupte says acting is an ongoing process.
"From the moment the promos (of Kaminey) started, I've been flooded with calls about the film and my look. Acting is an ongoing process. All day long we're acting in one way or another. So I was never away from it. And in Taare Zameen Par I lived every character from little Ishaan (Darsheel Safary) to the English and Hindi teachers - Mr. Sen and Mr. Tiwari," he said.
Gupte is willing to take on more acting assignments. "If it helps me to fund my film projects. But it has to touch me in some way. Otherwise I'd have become a permanent actor after Holi 22 years ago."
He is also readying to direct a film called Sapno Ko Ginte Ginte. And like the much-acclaimed Taare Zameen Par, Sapno... is also about the life and psychology of children.
"It took me so long to start another film after Taare Zameen Par because I needed to tighten my script. The kids are the star of Sapno Ko Ginte Ginte. But I do need a big brand to make the audience to come watch my film. However the star shouldn't feel he is doing the film and the children a favour by being part of the film," said Gupte.