Paresh Rawal tells Jyothi Venkatesh in a chat on location in Bhopal where he is shooting for Kusar Prasad Ka Bhoot that he is not complacent as an actor because he is open to criticism.
What is your role in Kusar Prasad Ka Bhoot?
I play the role of a villager called Kusar Prasad. It is a very nice role of a chronic alcoholic in the village. You cannot figure out whether you can root for the guy or not. Kusar Prasad is a tragic figure who tries his best to extract the maximum that he can out of the situations in which he is placed.
You are playing the title role in the film. How do you feel?
All that I can say is that aakhir mehnat rang layi hain itne saal ke baad. I am glad that talent is now being recognized and the mindset of the audience as well as the producers have changed. Today I am extremely happy as an actor that people are aware of the fact that whether it is a positive role or a negative role, I can do justice to my character.
Would you have readily agreed to do the film, if it were not the title role?
Even if I had not been offered the title role by Gary Grewal, I swear I would have still readily agreed to do the film, because it has a fabulous script.
It is Gary's first film with me as a director. Whatever you get to see in the film will be the new director's perception of a senior actor, because it also happens to be his debut film as a director. The choice of the script by the direct
or for his very first film obviously shows his caliber, because he did not opt for trash, just to play safe.
What according to you is the USP of the film?
It is satirical, thought provoking and at the same time zany and comic all combined into one. Kusar Prasad Ka Bhoot will once again reinforce the belief that you can no longer take the villagers today for granted because they are smarter.
How would you evaluate your growth as an actor?
We are now entering the golden period of Indian cinema. When I look back as an actor, I do confess that I have acted in as many as 150 films most of which were nothing but garbage. However, I'd say that I have grown as an actor a lot right from the time that I had made my debut in a small role in Holi. However I am not satisfied one hundred per cent creatively because I have this thirst to aspire for more challenging roles as an actor.
How do you prepare to get into the skin of your character?
I do not bother to do any khaas preparation. I make it a point to read the script again and again and surrender myself to the director on the sets, because I feel that all said and done he is the captain of the ship. I do not impose myself on the director.
What is your approach towards your director?
Every director has his own individual independent vision. I should know because I have directed my plays in Gujarathi and Hindi. As an actor, I make it a point not to throw my weight or impose my thoughts on my director. Instead, I try to understand his point of view and set out to interpret a scene according to his wish.
Which are your forthcoming films as of now?
My immediate release will be Mere Baap Pehle Aap. It will be followed by Maharathi, Maan Gaye Moghul-E-Azam and Lucky Oye Oye Lucky.
Mere Baap Pehle Aap is the Hindi remake of the hit Malayalam original version called Ishtam. Did you make it a point to see it?
I am of the belief that there is no point at all in seeing the original version of any film which is being remade. First of all, I do not know Malayalam. Secondly Priyadarshan is one director who does not stick to the original. If you have seen Mani Chitra Thazhu and its remake Bhool Bhulaiya or for that matter Ramoji Rao Speaking and its remake Hera Pheri, you will agree with me.
What is your role in Mere Baap Pehle Aap?
I play a widowed father. Akshaye Khanna, who plays my son in the film, sets out on a mission to get me married before he gets himself a bride. The film revolves around the hilarious situations in which I, my son and my friend Om Puri find us in.
What is Maharathi about?
I have acted in over 700 shows of Maharathi in both Hindi as well as in Gujarathi. It is one play which was revived because of sheer public pressure. It is about an opportunistic guy who gets into the lives of Naseerbhai and Neha Dhupia, who play a couple.
What are you doing in a film like Maan Gaye Mughal-E-Azam with Mallika Sherawat?
Sanjay Chel has assembled a set of good actors like Kay Kay Menon, Mallika Sherawat etc along with me in the film. I was supposed to play only one role but when Sanjay came to know that I am playing three roles in Lucky Oye Oye Lucky, he insisted that I do not do one but three roles in the film, which is a satire on society and a bar girl.
For a guy who had actually made his debut as
an actor with TV like Shah Rukh Khan , with the serial Bante Bigadthe,
it is surprising that we do not get to see you on TV either as an actor
or an anchor?
I am of the opinion that hosting a show is the most ghatiya thing these days on TV because there is absolutely no creativity whatsoever if you set out to host a show. However, I would love to do some serious stuff on TV.
Have you ever thought of producing a reality show for TV?
I am not at all in favor of producing or for that matter being a part of any reality show on TV either as a participant or as a celebrity judge because, each and every reality show, whether it is music based or dance based, revolves around the same concept, with only the prize money changing every time.
How has your experience been producing a daily soap for Zee and Sahara One?
I made Main Aisi Kyon Hoon for Sahara One and Teen Bahuraniyaan for Zee TV. Though I feel that producing a TV serial is a very tedious experience, my production company is now all set to make one show for Viacom, too. My wife Swaroop is looking after our television production wing. Hats off to J.D. Majethia of 'Hats Off Productions' for keeping a smiling face even though he is producing quite a few serials.
You have acted in every medium, be it the theatre, the television or the film. Which is your first love?
Undoubtedly I'd say that theater is my first and last love. Today I am what I am because of my stint in Gujarathi theatre.
You brought dignity to the stature of the character actor by quoting a price which you feel you deserve. How do you feel?
I am getting a price which I feel I deserve. However I would not like to hog the credit for changing the scenario because it was Nana Patekar and not me or for that matter Naseerbhai who had brought about this change, like Salim and Javed brought about as far as script writing was concerned. Nana Patekar did not think twice before asking for a huge amount as his remuneration to even Ramesh Sippy.
There is a complaint that you are very money minded as an actor?
It is a wrong notion. Ask Naseerbhai and Nandita Das. I acted in Naseerbhai's film for peanuts. I did Nandita’s film Parchaiyaan for free. I have also worked in Nishikant's film Mumbai Meri Jaan without charging him a bomb, because I liked the subject.
How have you avoided complacency set in as an actor?
I think the reason I have not become complacent as an actor is that I am even today open to criticism. I make it a point to keep on looking into myself and do not believe in feeding or nursing chamchas around me. As long as you learn, you will remain alive. I make it a point to ask people who have seen my growth, because I think otherwise I am as good as dead as an actor.
Is there any actor you feel jealous of?
When I see some performances, I tend to get creative takleef, but do not become jealous and lose sleep. I have always liked the hunger that Naseerbhai has had as an actor. Just to do a one minute role in Peter Brooke's play, Naseerbhai left all his work in India and stayed abroad for almost a year. You would not believe it but Sanjeev Kumar was never my idol.