Art and artistes exist beyond religion, politics and boundaries, says veteran actor and politician Paresh Rawal, who believes the audience must also watch the performance of an artiste in an apolitical manner. In an era when artistes are attacked because of their political ideology, how must the audience respond to an artiste?
The BJP MP (Lok Sabha/Ahmedabad East) told IANS in an interview: “I think the audience should watch the performance of artistes keeping their political opinion aside because art is apolitical. Our film industry is the most secular and apolitical place. Art should not have any boundaries and we should keep it beyond political ideologies. I think there are only a few narrow-minded people who create such fuss. In our film industry, when we work together, we are not bothered about who is coming from which religious and political background… So as an audience, why would they bother,” questioned the actor.
The acclaimed film and theatre actor, who has decades of work behind him and a filmography that goes beyond 200, will next be seen in “Sanju”, a Rajkumar Hirani directorial which is a biopic on actor Sanjay Dutt’s life. He will also play National Security Advisor Ajit Doval in “Uri”, and he is also gearing up for a biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said he is a big critic of his own work.
“I can watch my films very objectively and most of the time I criticise my work very hard. Every time I watch my performance thinking I should have done this or that… I am always dissatisfied with my work as I think I could have done it much better,” said the actor, known for his roles in films like “Hera Pheri”, “Awara Paagal Deewana”, “Woh Chokri”, “Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge?” and “OMG – Oh My God!” among many others.
Since he has received a lot of awards and praise from the audience and critics, and has gone beyond hits and flops as an actor, does the box office result makes any difference to him? Paresh said: “No. I live with a film till the film releases. What matters to me is the response of my first audience, who are the director and the writer of the film. As an actor, I execute their vision and only they have the overview of the film. So, as long as they are happy, my job is done as a performer. Yes I feel happy when a film does well at the box office and the producer makes money, but that does not make or break me as an actor.”
In “Sanju”, a father-son story, Paresh essays Sanjay Dutt’s father, the late actor-politician Sunil Dutt. Actor Ranbir Kapoor plays Sanjay. ” The story captures different phases of the father-son relationship. I tried to maintain a distance off camera with Ranbir so that as performers, we can stay true to the character. So on set, we were not pals who would chat together in between the shots. In the film also, that was the relationship we have shown, where Dutt saab loved his son to death but never had a friendly equation with Sanjay,” Paresh said.
He contemplated on how perhaps that was the reason why Sanjay, to an extent, felt lonely after the death of his mother Nargis Dutt. ” He was close to his mother, and though he loved and respected his father, he never opened up (to him) until a certain point. There was a complexity in the relationship but there was a bonding… I won’t unveil more as one should watch the film for that,” he added.
Being a part of the movie and essaying Sunil Dutt has “amplified” the respect Paresh has for the late actor. ” All his life, he fought the battle of his life without complaining, without bad-mouthing anyone, without even cursing God. I think one can fight such a battle with dignity if only his ethical values and principles are strong.”
Which chapter of his life did he find toughest to perform? “More than performing, I think I got goosebumps realising his loneliness after the death of Nargisji. He was already going through a lot as a father, as a politician and as a husband who ran around with his wife when she suffered from cancer. But he couldn’t save her life. After her death, Dutt saab was a lonely man… That loneliness was spine-chilling for me,” Paresh said.