So how did your journey start with Mostofa Sarwar Farooki?
It was actually quite spontaneous. Back then I was doing a film called “Kissa”, and after having completed the shoot, I took a vacation to Jaipur. There I got an email from my director which mentioned that a friend of his from Bangladesh wants to get in touch. So he asked me to take a look at the email he sent and respond, and so I did but that was the end of it and nothing came out of it at that moment. Then after 10 or 12 days, I started thinking of the possible reasons as to why he did not respond to my email. After a while, I received an elaborate reply from Sarwar, which helped me to get an idea about his endearing personality. Before he sent me his works I had already conducted some research of my own on YouTube and watched some of his movies.
There was something in those movies that intrigued me. I liked his way of story-telling; his take on people and their behaviour; it was enigmatic and engaging. So I had already decided that I'll work with him, but he wanted to get to it immediately. I felt like I will enjoy and connect to whatever he will be writing. So he sent me his story and I had to work out a date because he wanted to start immediately. So my manager had to clear certain schedules and eventually everything fell into place. He came to Bombay, we met and everything has been going smoothly since.
You have been involved with various international projects. What would you say are the main differences between Bollywood projects, and Hollywood projects?
The kind of story I choose cannot be generalized because they are quite diverse. The films I have worked in Hollywood are different, in the sense that in some Indian movies the story is not as important as the actor; everything moves around the actor. So, the story, the cast and in some cases the director has to compromise if necessary. The actor is the nucleus and dominates the film. In Hollywood however, specifically the movies I choose, the story is the nucleus; nothing could be compromised and nothing is more important than the story or the story-teller.
So is budget another factor in making a difference?
Budget is definitely an apparent factor, but it does not matter because even Hollywood movies are made with similar budgets as Indian movies; but the budget is not what creates a difference, in my opinion. It is the way of looking at the story, how it is treated, and how you find universality in the movie so that everyone can connect to it.
You believe that you do not belong to any class of actors and yet you are an acclaimed international star. What is your secret?
See, we live in a world where everything is determined by rationality, but rationality itself is something that limits us. We are not just a calculation; human beings are mysterious creations. So we cannot really pinpoint things in a way that we can dissect anything and find the secret in it and replicate for others to use. So, I really do not know my secret. It is a connection with the audience and that is something that cannot be defined.
Tell us about some of your future projects.
One of my films, “Madari” is going to be released this June, directed by Nishikant Kamat. I have a big film coming up in October, “Inferno” by director Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks.
What can you tell us about Project “Doob”?
“Doob” is right now in “Doob”, haha. Actually, the plot cannot be revealed just yet. The audience will have to wait for it to be unveiled. In fact, I am eagerly waiting for this movie more than anyone!
Interviewed by Rafi Hossain
& Narrated by Syed Ahnaf Sadeed