AK: And incidentally, that was the first scene we shot of mine, on the first day of shoot. So that scene was shot first.
AS: (laughs) Oh wow! That’s how films work, alright. First is last and the last is first!
You’ve done several International films all over. But it’s a very important film in America. This normalizes brown and muslim? A brown guy falls in love a white girl and what happens then. Yet It’s not about him being brown but just a love story. And it does that beautifully. It also brings in other aspects of, how the family gets impacted. So working on this project, what was your perspective?
AK: I think, South Asian families mostly react in a certain manner. Its tradition, its certain way of life, etc. But one does not read a script from that point of view. Every film at the end of it is story-telling and then the other interpretations come in. If there is a cause, if there is that, you make a documentary about it. You don’t need feature film. As you can be making the most amazing film, but it does not have a soul or it does not have a story telling, it does not work. So, yes ofcourse, it [subject] was important. Also, I did not want to make it into a cliché kind of a thing. I didn’t want it to make a stereotype. So I liked that aspect of it. It did not have stereotyping.
But yes, I personally feel that the most important thing in the world is compassion in today’s time. Compassion, togetherness, the language of love, so all these things are very important. But they cannot be told because you think that they must be told. They can only be incorporated if the work is, if the story is, interesting. So that’s what worked well in this film's favor.
AS: It absolutely does work, you’re doing an amazing job. So, you have played a variety of characters that are so different from each other. From comedy, to villain, to character roles etc. Can you share where does that truth and honesty comes from. How do you make them all so real and believable.
AK: I think, my brief to myself is all these people are real. All these people, their emotions, their ups and downs, their highs and lows, are real. They are people. And I have to make them as closer to reality or as real as I can. That’s what acting is all about. That people have to have livability. And I have not worked so much in terms before I got into movies, I am from drama school. And if I don’t do that, you will not ask me that question. So I do it for my own survival (laughs). I always wanted to be different. My job, is to sort of make it as closer to reality as possible. Of course, I’ve done comedy, and things like that. Yeah, even if it’s idiotic, all kinds of exaggeration, I do it with conviction. Because I love life. I enjoy being an actor and I enjoy being who I am.
Also the other thing is, I run an acting school "Actor Prepares" in Mumbai for the last 14 years. My brief to actors is and to students is that, “You should be ready to make a complete fool of yourself. Then only you will be able to find the nuances of acting.” So, I don’t take myself seriously as a person or as an actor. So that makes my job easy and I am not scared of failure. It’s your fear of failure which makes you, sort of, be a little more careful in life, also in acting. That you want to be, you want to sort of make it, “Oh, it should work!”. But I also believe that when you are competent, you can never be brilliant. So, it’s okay to be bad, because no actor, writer, poet, artist has always given best work. He can only try it. So that’s what I did.
AS: That’s so true, and I don’t think that there are many actors who can match that variety of the work that you have. So what about your favorite actors, like in India, or in Hollywood for that matter?
AK: Performances are favorite. I have loved performances of various actors. My all time favorite is Brando, De Niro, Al Pacino. But that doesn’t mean that younger generation hasn’t done some amazing work, I think Bradley Cooper was superb in Silver Linings Playbook, you know. And Leonardo Dicaprio was superb in so many other films.
AS: Last question Daniel Day Lewis, just announced that he is going to quit acting. You have done over 500 films already. Do you ever feel like that? Do you feel that I should quit? Or if not, why?
AK: No, I respect Daniel’s decision, that’s how he wants to lead his life. I want to keep on working as long as I can. Its, I think, to me, work gives the best self-motivational things, I enjoy working. So, I will want to work as,till 90-95 whatever.
AS: And we look forward to keep seeing you. So thank you so much for talking. Congratulation on your 500 films.
AK: Thank you Art Shrian.