Coming home to cinema

Coming home to cinema

bollywood buzz

Coming home to cinema

If looks could kill, Ali Fazal is certainly one of the few young actors who is guilty of some casualties. Suave, sophisticated and unassuming, this young artiste has a steady fan following and has proven himself time and again with his versatile and understated style of acting.

“I get a strange kind of high when I perform. Cinema has given me an opportunity to look into people’s lives. I like to play on audience’s nerves and leave a lasting impression on them,” says Ali, with a mischievous grin.

But when and how did he fall in love with acting? For this Delhi boy, acting was a result of a sporting accident during his Doon School days in Dehra Dun. It all started when Ali had to miss a basketball tournament due to injury and was forced to supplement the time by taking up an extracurricular activity. And this Science nerd chose theatre. “To be honest, it was partly also to impress a girl,” he says. What began as a stunt to gain a girl’s attention soon turned into a passion. His days in serious theatre productions kicked off at St Xaviers College, Mumbai, from where he graduated in Economics. “I was initially extremely shy and self-conscious, and acting somehow gave me an outlet to express myself and come out of my shell.”

Theatre also gave Ali a window into cinema. “It was filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani who spotted me at one of the plays at college, and offered me a role in 3 Idiots. That’s when I got my first taste of Bollywood.” His role in 3 Idiots may have lasted less than 10 minutes, but Ali certainly caught both viewers’ and critics’ eye as Joy Lobo. From there, he went on to act in Shah Rukh Khan’s home production, Always Kabhi Kabhi, where he played the lead role of a high school student. This was followed by some moderately-successful films Fukrey (2013), Bobby Jasoos (2014) and Khamoshiyan (2015).

“Each film was a different experience. Fukrey was a film by Excel Entertainment, which is Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani’s production house. I throughly enjoyed the whole process as the atmosphere was chilled out. With Vidya Balan in Bobby Jasoos, I had a unique chemistry. Initially I didn’t want to do the film as it seemed like the role of a hero was forcibly inserted in the script. But I soon realised that the film was different and I’m glad I was a part of it,” he recalls. But it was Khamoshiyan that tested his skills to a great extent. “During the filming, I was exposed to the Mahesh Bhatt school of thought. It was indeed a learning experience and it expanded my acting vocabulary.”

Unlike many actors who stick to just films, Ali believes in constantly reinventing himself and has always pushed himself to dabble in different mediums, and web series is one of them. After the success of Bang Baaja Baaraat, the web series by Yash Raj Production’s banner Y-Films, Ali says he is open to more such ventures. “When I chose to take up Bang Baaja Baaraat, I had no idea that it would have such a wide reach. I just loved the concept and went for it. Web entertainment is the next big thing. It is wonderful to see good, intelligent and creative content come alive online. And the best part is that there are no marketing gimmicks and you don’t have to compete for TRPs. It is all about viewers’ discretion on what they want to watch.”

Ali has also had to perform several racy scenes for Khamoshiyan and Bang Baaja Baaraat. How comfortable is he playing out such scenes? He says, “I am extremely awkward when it comes to shooting such scenes. In fact, I ask my directors thousands of questions before agreeing to go ahead. I need them to justify the inclusion of such scenes. Apart from that, when I’m performing, I don’t want the scenes to look sleazy. I try my best to make them look good.”

After garnering praise for his performances so far, does he see himself in a comfortable position to take up the roles of his choice? “I feel truly blessed to have gotten some great opportunities,” he says, jokingly adding, “I select a project by first reading the last page of the script to see if I’m still going to be alive at the end of the film.” But, on a serious note, “When in my head I don’t see myself playing a particular character, I immediately go for it since that’s where the challenge lies. Other than that, I look for a strong storyline, plot and producers to promote the film.”

Next on Ali’s plate is Anand L Rai’s Happy Bhaag Jayegi and Prakash Raj’s Hindi remake of his Kannada film Oggarane titled Tadka, where he will share the screen with actors Nana Patekar, Shriya Saran and Tapsee Pannu. Excited about both the projects, the actor says, “Working with Anand Rai is a dream come true. He is a genius, someone I really wanted to work with for a long time. I admire his simplistic approach to films. And I simply fell in love with the story of Tadka. Prakash sir has a different style of treating a story. And the film has a great cast of actors, which is an added bonus.”

In the next couple of years, Ali sees himself behind the camera, and has already laid the groundwork for this by directing a few short films. But for now, this affable actor remains dedicated to giving us flawless performances.

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