Mumbai, Feb 22 (IANS) 'Rang De Basanti' actor Siddharth says he is ready to play a gay role because he feels sexual orientation is a natural and personal choice.
Siddharth, who has just done Vishal Bharadwaj's 'Blood Brothers' and is busy with Chandan Arora's 'Striker', said: 'As an actor I play roles based on reality. Sexual orientation is a natural and personal choice. I see no reason for it to affect my decision to accept a project.'
'I have close friends who are gay, and they are as intelligent and caring, if not more, than my heterosexual friends. I think it's time we started respecting them and giving them their much-deserved freedom to just be themselves,' said the actor, according to whom India is a homophobic country.
Excerpts from an interview:
Q: What prompted you to accept Vishal Bharadwaj's 'Blood Brothers' as your follow-up to 'Rang De Basanti' in Hindi?
A: In the year following 'Rang De Basanti', I went back to Hyderabad and did two hugely successful Telugu films. I decided to take a break for six months and travel. That's when Vishal called. I worked on the film because of the cause it stood for and also because I was excited about working with Vishal Bharadwaj and the Oscar-winning cinematographer Guillermo Navarro. I am now busy with my most exciting film till date, 'Striker' with director Chandan Arora. I choose films based on my convictions, and take my association with them very seriously.
Q: Bharadwaj tells me that many leading actors in Mumbai are extremely wary of stepping into HIV territory. What made you so sure of this project?
A: I am not concerned with how other actors are functioning. I was the 15th actor considered for 'Rang De...' As for this film, my creative processes made it impossible to refuse the kind of work it offered.
Q: How much do you concern yourself with issues other than cinema, including AIDS?
A: Having done work with leading NGOs in the field I was fully aware of the topic and its gravity. Other than that, there is only so much more I can do as an actor. AIDS awareness and education are areas that concern me most.
Q: Bharadwaj says you're a unique actor. What is your take on him as a director? Would you like to do a full feature with him?
A: Vishal Bharadwaj as a director is first human and emotional and only then is he a technician. This makes working with him a very warm and comfortable experience. It made me able to go that extra step for his film. As for working with him again, actors lead a passive existence and need to wait for somebody else to take the first step in order to get work. Vishal and I will work again depending on his writing and how it appeals to me at that time.
Q: Have you seen the other three AIDS films in Mira Nair's bouquet? What do you think of them?
A: I loved Santosh Sivan's piece 'Prarambh' that starred my dear friend Prabhu Deva. It was the most relevant and 'impactful' piece in the omnibus.
Q: You play a heterosexual man who suspects he has AIDS. Would you be willing to play a gay man who's tested HIV positive?
A: I think we are a homophobic country and I believe the media's insensitive sensationalisation of the issue is largely responsible for this. As an actor I play roles based on reality. Sexual orientation is a natural and personal choice. I see no reason for it to affect my decision to accept a project.
I have close friends who are gay, and they are as intelligent and caring as, if not more than, my heterosexual friends. I think it's time we started respecting them and giving them their much-deserved freedom to just be themselves.