What attracted you to the script of Satyagraha?
The opportunity to work with Prakash ji again, the role of an idealist in today’s times of turmoil, and the opportunity to spend shooting time with accomplished artists in the city that has been most friendly and welcoming – Bhopal.
You play a social activist in the film, even after so many years in the industry, is it still a challenge for you to portray certain characters?
Nothing comes easy in life or profession. Every day is a challenge, a fear of being competent enough to deliver what is asked, and the ultimate test of whether it shall be acceptable to today’s audience – the final judges!
This is your second film with Prakash Jha post Aarakshan, what is the kind of faith that you have in him as a director and his films?
Prakash ji is a competent director, well researched and meticulously prepared to undertake the vision of the story he wishes to tell. There is much to learn from the subjects he chooses, and there is the joy of honing your language capabilities.
Do you ever take a director’s box office success into consideration while signing on roles?
No… that would be a most unreasonable consideration!
Films are an impactful medium. It has the penetration power much like TV these days to form opinion, likes and dislikes. All makers hope that they can leave an impact apart from the box office performance of the films they make, and in that respect Satyagraha is no different. A peaceful democratic demonstration is our constitutional right, and that is what shall form a part of this film, though the story really is about a Father who has lost his son, and a son who is searching for a Father!
Be it in the past with directors like Manmohan Desai and Prakash Mehra or more recently with filmmakers like Ram Gopal Verma or R Balki, you tend to work repeatedly with a set of directors. What is the reason behind it?
I work with them repeatedly because they have and they do offer me subjects and roles that have interested me and challenged me as a creative person. There is no criteria there however. I have worked with several directors repeatedly – Hrishikesh Mukherji, Tinnu Anand, Mukul Anand, to name just a few. There are projects in the future that are being considered as well with directors who may have done just one film with me. It is more the consideration of the story and the character offered, and the level of comfort that one enjoys in being together again .. I am always open to work with those that may never have worked with me. In fact I welcome them. It would be an absolute honour to be associated with them.
No never! I do what is offered. Variety is welcome, and perhaps in the days to come you may see that prominently. But what exactly do you mean by ‘serious roles’? Playing comedy is a ‘serious’ business too.
What do you have to say about writers in the film industry? Are there any writers that impress you or do we still need more dynamic writers?
We have always enjoyed the prominence of the writer in our films, indeed in films in general. The writer is always for me the hero of a film. He constructs, he scripts, he screen plays, and acts dialogue for each project. The actor merely comes and dutifully repeats what the writer has already done for him. Each generation and each decade has produced brilliance in writing. They write according to what prevailing circumstances provoke them to, or what they perceive prevailing circumstances to be. They were brilliant then, they are brilliant now, and shall continue to be so in the years to come.