Adil Hussain: The Storyteller allows me to travel from smaller self to larger self

The actor recalls his days at Capital’s NSD while talking about his latest films

Adil Hussain: The Storyteller allows me to travel from smaller self to larger self

Actors Adil Hussain and Anindita Bose at the recently concluded 53rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa

Critically-acclaimed actor Adil Hussain made it to the headlines after his latest film The Storyteller premiered at the 53rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa, which concluded on November 28.

The Assam-born actor, who turned 50 on October 5, has established himself in the Bollywood film industry, having worked in more than 70 films over the last 35 years. He has also acted in Telugu, Assamese, Bengali, Marathi, French, Tamil, Malayalam and Hollywood movies. He made his Bengali film debut in Iti Srikanta along with Soha Ali Khan and played a lead role.

Some of the Bollywood films he has worked in are Mukti Bhawan, English Vinglish, Love Sonia, What Will People Say, Reluctant Fundamentalist, Life of Pie, Nanak Shah Fakir, Lootera, Kaminey, Force 2, Kabir Singh, Commando 2 and Bellbottom among others.

He has played a variety of roles in these hit films.

In Love Sonia and Life of Pie he played the role of father, in English Vinglish he played the role of late Sridevi’s husband which got recognised at the box-office. This film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2012.

He acted as dean of a medical college in Kabir Singh or a rickshaw-puller in Prateeksha which was directed by Prakash Jha and has been fortunate to work with almost all great directors such as Mira Nair, Prakash Raj, Tabrez Noorani, Shubhashish Bhutani among others. He has enjoyed working with all of them.

Hussain, who studied at Delhi’s National School of Drama and calls the Capital his home, plays a key role in the Storyteller, which is a tribute to Satyajit Ray and a remake of the Bengali film, Golpo Boliye Tarini Khuro on the subject of originality versus plagiarism.

In an exclusive interview with The Patriot, the noted television, stage and film actor, whose first love continues to be stage, speaks about his career and the latest movie. Excerpts:

Q: What is The Storyteller all about? Could you share some details of your role?

A: The Storyteller is a humble tribute to legendary director Satyajit Ray. I play a pivotal role in the film, which is based on a short story of the renowned filmmaker and storyteller Satyajit Ray.

Q: What are your thoughts on The Storyteller?

A: I think as an actor I can travel from the smaller self to the larger self, so that I can engross myself in the story and character. To create empathy for the character is one of the biggest qualities of an actor. Besides, this film gives a strong message against plagiarism.

Q: Would you like to share something about the web-series Mukhbir?

A: Mukhbir is based on the events of the Indo-China war of 1962. There have been many different films and shows revolving around the four wars the country has fought since its independence in 1947.

Q: How is Mukhbir – The Story of a Spy different from others?

A: As an actor, I think this film is very different from all the other spy thrillers that are being churned out of India, for the simple reason that its manner is more nuanced and showcases the complexities of human relationships beautifully.

Q: Do you get any particular advice from the director while working on Mukhbir?

A: Yes, I did. The director guided me without ever telling me — just by his actions. Most of the characters are fictitious but inspired by many who have been mukhbir [which means spy in urdu].

Q: What are your views on OTT platforms?

A: OTT has good options for actors but I have reservations about the dark content in OTT.

Q: Any new project?

A: There are some new projects I am working on, but I can’t disclose details now.

Q: Do you like your character in Mukhbir?

A: Yes. Although my character was inspired by real people, I didn’t want to copy anyone’s trajectory. The role was inspired by a few people in the intelligence community. I cannot disclose their names but I feel fortunate enough to have read a few articles and been told stories about them by my friends.

Q: Did you enjoy its shooting?

A: I had a wonderful time shooting, especially with my senior Prakash Raj who’s known for his pranks. He kept the mood light and easy on the sets.

Q: Would you like to share your memories of the National School of Drama in Delhi?

A: Delhi has been my home and I am always fascinated by the lively atmosphere there. I fondly remember my days while studying at the National School of Drama (NSD). Afterwards, I studied at the Drama Studio London on a Charles Wallace India Trust scholarship. However, things changed but meeting with my NSD colleagues was great fun and I enjoyed it.

Q: Any Bollywood film actor you like?

A: Om Puri was my favourite actor. Then Naseeruddin Shah. Both are theatre actors. Incidentally, Naseeruddin Shah was my teacher and mentor and I continue to receive his advice but it hurts me that Om Puri has died.

Q: Besides acting and theatre, how do you spend your time?

A: You know life is not easy as an actor. There is always pressure and I have to work 24×7 but when my shoot is over and I get some free time, I love to cook for my son (Kabir) and wife (Kristen Jain). Cooking is my favourite hobby!

Q: What is your experience working with late actress Sridevi?

A: I am fortunate to have worked with many famous actresses to name a few — Tabu, Vidya Balan and Mrinal Thakur. But acting with the late Sridevi was entirely different and I enjoyed working with her in English Vinglish. She was very cheerful on the set and I enjoyed it a lot. However, her untimely death is a loss for all of us.

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