“I think, eat, dream and sleep acting…” – Adil Hussain

neeru - adil hussain
Adil Hussain – Star  attraction at this year’s Sydney Film Festival

By  Neeru  Saluja

Versatile actor Adil Hussain, known for his performances in ”˜Life of Pi’, ”˜English Vinglish’ and ”˜Reluctant Fundamentalist’ will be arriving in Australia as a guest for the Sydney Film festival. Two of his films – Sunrise and Tiger are being screened at the festival.

Prior to his arrival, The Indian Down Under interviewed the actor to talk about his films, roles and dreams. The Assamese born actor engaged us in an intelligent conversation which unravelled an actor who is here to stay.

Sydney film lovers are very fortunate to see your films at this year’s festival. Can you let us know about your roles in Sunrise and Tiger.

I’ll start talking about my role in Sunrise as I’m playing the lead character in this film. I look at it this way – a father is defeated and failed as a cop. He decided to join the police force to earn money but can’t find his kidnapped daughter. He is at the top of the system but he is totally helpless. He feels this as a great failure and can neither console himself nor his wife. The turmoil, trauma, pain, agony and anguish he’s growing through has failed him as a father and a cop.

In Tiger, I play the face of a multinational who represents the company. He executes orders and takes commissions from the company to make sure the company is running smoothly. The character is extremely ruthless and very intelligent. In short, I’m the bad guy!

This sounds like the bad cop versus the good cop. In your career you have played various kind of characters, including a romantic role?

Most of the times I have played the character with a lot of shades. And that’s what I like to play. The shades vary from lighter grey to dark grey, but they remain from light to lighter grey. I’m quite surprised that I was asked to do a romantic role in ”˜Iti Srikantha’ with Soha Ali Khan as I’m normally the dark role actor.

You were so not romantic in English Vinglish! How does it feel when people recognised you as Sridevi’s husband?

You are right? I wasn’t at all romantic in ”˜English Vinglish’. I was the obnoxious and ignorant husband who doesn’t know he is an idiot. It’s quite often that I’m referred as the husband of Sridevi. I have no ego problem in that. Sridevi has been acting since her childhood, so I had absolutely no issue. I’ve even played the husband of Vidya Balan.

You have been involved with theatre since a young age, do you think fame has come to you at a later stage of life?

I’m very happy where I am. I don’t feel I have arrived late. I’ve been acting since I was 7 years old and apart from teaching, most of the time I have acted. I’m thinking, eating, dreaming and sleeping about acting. The only thing has changed is the reach of cinema.

Critics loved your role in ”˜Life of Pi’ and acclaimed you were the best in the film. Please comment.

I was surprised as my performance was quite mediocre. I saw where my tensions were when my fingers on the table looked tense. I had to speak in a South Indian Gujarati accent and I wasn’t comfortable with it. I didn’t have enough time to practice. There was a possibility to make it more fruitful. But if people liked me, there must be something good about my acting.

Then what would you rate as your best performance so far?

Definitely Sunrise. In this film you are going to see me in a full fledged role. It was given to me a long time ago, we sat on it for five years. This film has grown with the director Partho Sen Gupta and with time the fundamental story changed. I knew everything about the story as Partho has spoken to me a lot about the story. We hardly spoke during the shoot.

What made you play the lead role in Sunrise?

Partho never saw my work or auditioned me. He cast me in 2008 when we met in a cafe. The meeting lasted for an hour. It’s very rare that you trust someone and that’s what I liked about Partho. He gave me the story and told me what I had to do. It was a creative process which made me go for it.

What’s your dream role?

My dream role is to play Krishna. For me, he has such in depth knowledge, wisdom, courage. He is cunning but brutal. It will be a very challenging role with lots of intensity. This has been my dream since 27 years. I have attempted to play the character of Arjun so I’m slowly getting to it.

And what do your dreams pursue – parallel or commercial cinema?

The question is not about following our dreams. It’s about why do we work in films? Is it for the love of films or to pay our bills? I see a lot of films are made for reasons – it’s either fame or money. These kind of reasons take over the film. I find that a bit odd. We have enough space for commercial films. We need more recognition for art house films and thankfully in India there is more space for small films. I’m extremely grateful to be offered varied roles from different kind of directors which has fulfilled my desires.

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