‘I’m back to my second love, acting,’ says Amol Palekar
Amol Palekar turned 75 this year and, to celebrate, decided to return to his second love (after painting) — the theatre. He’s back on the stage after 25 years, in the play Kusur, based on Danish film Den Skyldige (The Guilty). It’s a thriller where Palekar plays a retired assistant police commissioner, searching for a kidnapped woman. It’s been adapted for the stage by Palekar’s wife, the writer Sandhya Gokhale. Excerpts from an interview…
Why the comeback?
This is not a comeback. I have decided to do just 25 performances. In as many corners of our country as possible. I want to perform in Guwahati, Chandigarh, Surat.
I’m doing it because for 25 years people have been asking me, ‘Why don’t you act?’ and I used to say: “It’s good question; why don’t you?” But now, given all the love I’ve got from my audiences in both film and theatre, I think I owe this to my fans.
How do you feel about how entertainment is changing, with the web and OTT?
I feel, the core of live performance remains the same. If you want to see a person perform, you have to be physically present; there is no real substitute for that. I would literally walk miles to watch Sombhu Mitra perform. I was actually at his last performance. It was the experience of a lifetime. Now, you can watch it on YouTube, but it’s not the same. The theatre is rooted in the real world, and I think that is probably its greatest strength.
What other avenues are you considering?
Years ago I made a statement that offended a lot of people. I said, ‘Success is boring’. What I meant was that, when I realise that I can do something very well and that people love it, I lose interest in that thing. I think: if this is what people love, let me try something else and see whether they love that too. Now, however, I’m scared of the level of expectation from fans. I recently did an ad with Zarina Wahab. And my phone is flooded with messages and calls. I’m never really sure how to cope with that kind of thing.
Is there a young actor today that really impresses you?
I have so many favourites — Alia Bhatt, Vicky Kaushal, Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi… all brilliant actors. People sometimes say Ayushmann Khurrana is carrying on my legacy. I have a problem with this notion. I don’t want to put someone in a box like that. We should just watch and applaud.
When I turned 70, I decided to return to my first love. I’m just happy being a painter. This year I turned 75, so I decided to go back to my second love, theatre. Let’s see what happens after that.
(Kusur will be staged in Mumbai and Pune from November 24 to December 10. For updates on the full schedule, go to bookmyshow.com)