Udayavni Special

Wish I keep looking for a dream role: Ali Fazal

PTI, Oct 6, 2020, 1:09 PM IST

New Delhi: With one foot in India and the other in the West, actor Ali Fazal is enjoying the fruits of his “democratic” journey in cinema and he hopes to bring many more stories to life, irrespective of their origin.

The actor made his Bollywood debut with a special appearance in the 2009 blockbuster “3 Idiots” as the under pressure engineering student Joy Lobo who dies by suicide.

Lucknow-born Fazal too was a science student pursuing his bachelors in Mumbai when “3 Idiots” happened.

“I started learning slowly, one after the other. This has been a learning journey for me especially because I never got a chance to study acting. I have given a lot of flops too, which I regret. But all that has helped me grow into a better human being and better my craft,” the actor told PTI in a Zoom interview.

Fazal, 33, branched out to international cinema in 2015 with a small role in the Hollywood action adventure “Furious 7” and went on to star in one of the titular roles in the British-American biographical comedy drama “Victoria & Abdul” alongside screen icon Judi Dench playing the British monarch.

On his experience of working abroad, the actor said when one is introduced to world cinema, they realise “this is far bigger than one bubble”.

“We are all human beings trying to tell our stories, there are so many stories. This journey may never end. I want to tell as many of those stories as I can.”

Closer home, he is known for playing the level-headed Zafar in the comedy film series “Fukrey” and the trigger-happy Guddu Pandit in the Amazon Prime Video web series “Mirzapur”.

Asked if there was a dream role, Fazal said the day he defines one he will end up “caging” himself.

“I wish I keep looking for a dream role. There are dream roles and they are still to come.”

The second season of crime drama “Mirzapur” is slated to start streaming from October 23 and the actor said his character has come a long way since the series debut in 2018.

The new chapter will see Fazal”s Guddu transform from a “lazy” muscleman to someone who starts using his own brain to deal with the situation.

“Human beings are unpredictable. You don”t know how you would react especially after a huge part of your family has been wiped out in front of your eyes. In season two, there is a very thin line between losing your mind and staying sane enough to turn this into one revenge drama or something else.

“Guddu is not the lazy guy that he was in season one who relied on his brother Bablu (played by Vikrant Massey) for his brains and was obsessed with all the cool things in life. Now he starts to use his own little head,” he said.

On set, he said, his job gets easier when his co-actor is “better” than him.

“I like to think that there”s a presence that everybody has. I remember I had a scene with Pankaj (Tripathi) ji in season one. I know him, I have fun working with him… Then I feel more confident as it becomes a ”jugalbandi” (duet), not a match against each other. So, both the artistes rise.”

Next up for Fazal is the film adaptation of Agatha Christie”s “Death on the Nile”, directed by Kenneth Branagh.

The movie is Branagh”s follow-up to his 2017 blockbuster “The Murder on the Orient Express”, which was also based on iconic author’s book of the same name.

Branagh, who also reprises his role of iconic detective Hercule Poirot in the follow-up, called Fazal as a “real details man” in an interview with PTI in June.

Responding to the praise, Fazal said working with the BAFTA winner was “amazing” as he would go out of his way to make the cast — also featuring Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Annette Bening, Letitia Wright, Rose Leslie, among others — feel comfortable.

“It was day one of shoot and he made these small chits for a quiz of all of our work. He used to keep playing these quizzes just so that the actors would get to know each other and their work.

“He doesn”t need to do that. It was these small gestures. He is the director of a multi-million dollar project and a famous guy himself, but he remembered every single person”s name on that set,” he added.

Fazal plays a British character named Andrew Katchadourian, a cousin of Gadot”s Linnet Ridgeway-Doyle in the film, which is now slated to be released in 2021 in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Late American actor George Kennedy played the same role in the 1978 original.

Fazal joins Indian-origin British actor Dev Patel, who played the title role of the English character in Armando Iannucci”s “The Personal History of David Copperfield”, in portraying a part through colour-blind casting.

Colour-blind casting is defined as the casting of ethnic minority actors in roles where race, ethnicity, or gender is not germane.

Fazal said this form of casting is “necessary” to be able to include people of all races, colours and genders in the filmmaking process.

“The onus is on the writers now. If you are a good actor, you fit,” he noted.

The actor, however, cautioned that going ahead certain films will have to be made according to the geography and time period.

Fazal also said he shot for a two-actor film under lockdown and will start filming another project soon.

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