Meet Adil Hussain, the versatile actor

Lifestyle Wednesday 20/April/2016 17:18 PM
By: Times News Service
Meet Adil Hussain, the versatile actor

Those who watched Ang Lee’s critically acclaimed 2012 Hollywood flick, Life of Pi, would never forget Santosh Patel, the father of the protagonist, Pi Patel, and the owner of a zoo in Pondicherry in India.
Adil Hussain, still cherishes the role that earned him appreciation from around the world. “It was great opportunity to work in an Ang Lee movie. He is a serious director who makes movies only when he wants to tell a story,” Adil said.
The versatile actor also spoke about his association with theatre, differences between acting in a drama and film, among many other things, in a freewheeling interview, a day after completing the shoot of his new Malayalam movie, Naval Enna Jewel, in Muscat last week.

Life of Pi gave you international acclaim. How was your experience of working with Ang Lee?
I was fascinated by Ang Lee’s humble, soft-spoken attitude. World knows him as an Oscar winning director, but no one will notice his presence on the sets. He sits silently on one corner and never shouts at his colleagues. I haven’t seen a director like him.

You are known as a theatre personality. How difficult it is to act in movies?
The culture of theatre is sacred, where actors rehearse for many days to make their roles perfect. But films have a different character. I was confused when I entered the set for my debut movie. I couldn’t concentrate as it was quite noisy. Even the sound of the clap between the scenes made me uncomfortable.

What are the major differences between acting in a play and a movie?
Filming is based on the location. The last scene may be shot first while the first one may be shot last. Everything is arranged during the editing stage. But drama follows a proper order, from beginning to end. Proximity is another important factor. I know the position of the audience in theatre, and I know how much is too much, and how low is too less. Proximity still confuses me in the movies.

You have acted in Indian and foreign language movies. How different is the experience?
Foreign language movies, especially Hollywood films, are well organised. Movie makers provide the script well in advance. It gives actors enough preparation time. It doesn’t happen in most of the Indian movies. The work culture needs to change.

Which are the movies that gave you satisfaction?
I got challenging roles in Partho-Sen Gupta’s Marathi movie, Sunrise, and Budhayan Mukherjee’s Hindi movie, The Violin Player. Gauri Shinde’s comedy-drama film, English Vinglish, too made me feel proud. But I believe that I haven’t done the best role of my career yet. I am waiting for the role that will explore the complexities of human being.

How is it possible to balance between commercial movies and theatre?
Recently, I acted in a movie, Mukti Bhavana (Salvation Home), directed by young and talented Subashish. It delves into a complicated father-son relationship. When I read the script, I wanted to do it. But the director told me that they were making it on a shoe-string budget. I didn’t pull off from the project. The gruelling 30-day schedule was a nice experience. I have high hopes for the movie, which will be screened in the 73rd Venice Film Festival.
I could afford to act in it, as I earn enough from big budget films. For example, I will act in Robot – 2 (South Indian film icon Rajnikant-starrer), and Force -2 (Bollywood hero John Abraham-starrer) to make money.

How did you fall in love with acting?
Two stand-up comedians used to perform near our home in Assam when I was just four-years old. They imitated Bollywood stars. I looked at them with respect, and I began to imitate them. When I was enrolled in kindergarten, the teacher picked me to act in a 30-minute play, Capmaker and the Sailor. Later, I got good roles in school and college plays. And it drove me to the National School of Drama, the premier drama school in India.

You teach acting at India’s reputed National School of Drama. What are the traits of a good actor?
Passion for acting is important. A good actor should be curious, should lend an ear to others, and see the world through others. Craft is another important factor. Actors should learn the connection between breath and emotions.