Hollywood star Harvey Keitel, who is known for his performances in cult films like Taxi Driver (1976) and Reservoir Dogs (1992), hasn’t seen Sadak (1991) and Kaante (2002), the two Bollywood films that have allegedly taken a little inspiration from Keitel’s films.
But the actor doesn’t care. “I wasn’t aware of these films till someone told me about them,” he says. “Indian filmmakers are free to do whatever they want, whether I like it or not. Anyway, I haven’t seen the remakes yet, so I can’t comment,” When told that the desi versions of his hits had been commercially successful too, he smiles and says, “I’m glad.”
The actor, who recently wrapped up his first Bollywood film, Against Itself had only heard about the connection between Kaante and Reservoir Dogs, which he had co-produced.
Keitel, who hopes to work in more Indian productions, is nonchalant when told that certain Hollywood bigwigs had sued Bollywood producers for remaking films without legal permissions. “Artistes have the right to express themselves the way they wish to. But it’s not a good idea to break the law. It should be done within the limits, keeping codes of ethics in mind,” he points out.
The Hollywood star had previously visited India to film Jane Campion’s Holy Smoke with Kate Winslet, where he plays an exit counsellor who deprograms members of religious cults. The film was talked about because it had supposedly shown the sub-continent in a poor light. Keitel, understandably, disagrees, “Jane adores India. She doesn’t have a mind that can portray a nation in bad taste.” He connected with her recently while shooting for Against Itself in Panchgani, Maharashtra. In the actor’s first Bollywood film, he will be seen playing the part of Edward Baker, a role reportedly moulded on Australian missionary, Graham Staines.
Meanwhile, what Keitel likes about the country is its Indianised MTV. However, what surprises him is the lack of Indian music in hotels and restaurants. “I guess people have a misconception that they are hip only if they play latest hits from the US in elevators and restaurants. That’s not how it is,” Keitel smiles, adding that most foreign visitors make their way to India looking for the culture here. “I’d rather have Indians follow their own traditions wherever they are.”