This actor needs no introduction. Acting is in his blood. He has done it all from romance to comedy, bad boy to a simpleton; and delivers every performance with a great aplomb and ease. Paresh Rawal is an actor par excellence. His recent releases De Dana Dan and Paa created waves at the box-office and his performance yet again was much acclaimed.
And with his latest release Road to Sangam, the versatile actor has switched lanes from totally commercial characters to highly unconventional one. The movie has already earned laurels at various international film festivals.
Paresh Rawal in conversation with us tells us about his new venture and his experience donning a character of devout Muslim.
How did Road to Sangam happen to you?
When Amit Rai the director approached me with his script I just fell in love with it. I had given him exactly 10 minutes to narrate the story but once he started I sat through full two hours. By the end of it, I was fascinated with the character of Hashmat Ullah and agreed to the film wholeheartedly. This film has been altogether a different experience for me.
Road to Sangam is based on a sensitive issue. What kind of challenges did you an actor to perform the character of Hashmat Ullah?
Indeed, the topic of Hindu- Muslim people has been touched upon with a new found sensitivity. Moreover, the story of the film is very fresh and there are certain aspects of the story which leaves one spellbound and charged me as actor. It was indeed a challenging role. In fact I had to go within myself to imbibe this character, his simplicity and strength. My theatre exposure helped me a lot to play such a difficult character. I have a knee problem so it was difficult to sit for namaz as the character of staunch Muslim which I play in the film demanded me to do so.
Tell us about your character in film. Is it as strong as your character in Sardar?
I can not predict whether viewers will find it as strong as the character of Sardar Patel. But as an actor I know that this character may look frail but he has a lot of strength in him. I think- people should go and watch this film for its sheer beautiful subject and the way the movie has been churned out. Whoever has watched it till now has carried it with them to their homes. Viewers voted for this film as best film at ‘MAMI Film Festival’. I am so moved with this film that if ever another film of similar kind is made, as an actor I would always love to be a part of it.
It’s heard you didn’t see the video in which they have captured real Hashmat Ullah’s mannerisms’. Why?
Hashmat Ullah is not really a famous person and people do not know about his personality at all. So, I didn’t find a need to learn his mannerisms and thus, the question of my imitating him didn’t come in the picture. But what I needed to do as actor was to imbibe the spirit of the character, his mentality, what he thinks in certain situation as normal person and behave eventually. As an actor I had to get into the skin of the character by creating mannerisms for the character and that’s the way I have been working since the beginning.
What prompted you to work with debutant director and producer Amit Rai and Amit Chheda? Are you satisfied with their respective performances?
Both might be new but they have gained expertise in their respective fields. As I said earlier Road to Sangam is not an easy film to make. It needs guts to touch upon such a sensitive issue and bring it with such a point of view which doesn’t give space for any controversies says it all for its makers. Road to Sangam is a fantastic movie and I had a sheer pleasure working with them.
You too produce films and serials. What would have been you reaction if Amit Rai would have approached you to make Road to Sangam under your production banner?
I would have been more than thrilled to produce a world class project like Road to Sangam.
You haven’t donned any negative character since ages now. Any plans in near future?
I have been awaiting something really out of the box as far as negative character is concerned but haven’t come across anything interesting so far.
Do you think that absence of star value can affect the film’s box office prospects?
I don’t agree on that for a reason that times have changed now. The success or failure of the movie doesn’t rely on the star value. If that would have been the case, why didn’t films like Rocket Singh-The Salesman of the Year, Blue and many more work at the box-office? It’s the content of the film and then of course the performances of the actors involved which become the deciding factor for the film.
Film has been appreciated at international festivals. How does it feel?
I feel extremely proud to be a part of this film. It feels great to witness the changing phase of Indian cinema; the way it is getting recognition across the world.
How was experience shooting for Road to Sangam?
We enjoyed the outdoor location at Allahabad where the entire movie has been shot. People of the city were very lovable, cooperative and sweet, the shooting environment was so positive. All actors knew each other and enjoyed the time together. Om Puri, Pawan Malhotra, Javed Sheikh, Swati Chitnis- we all had good time.