Thursday, August 9, 2007

"I don't carry my roles home"

CRITICS ARE going ga ga over Akshaye Khanna's performance in Gandhi My Father as Mahatma Gandhi's little known son Harilal and he too is quite pleased with the outcome. But the actor denies taking help from his personal experiences to essay the role.

"I've never used my personal life to play any character. I read about actors digging into their experiences. I don't carry my roles home. Yes, scenes in 'Gandhi' have eaten into my soul," Akshaye said in an interview.

"Before I read the script, I didn't even know he existed! Of course, I was aware Gandhiji had a family. But I knew nothing about Harilal. So it was relatively easy for me to play him. I didn't have to copy someone people knew about."


Gandhi My Father was made under an oath of secrecy among the cast and crew?
It wasn't secrecy, just a low profile until we were ready to release. A film like Gandhi My Father isn't easy to make. And we haven't made a small art film —it is a big commercial film. It's important to plan a film's promotion properly, specially when it comes to Mahatma Gandhi, who's so much part of our lives even today. Now when we're finally allowed to talk, we feel we've been let out of jail.

You play Gandhi's son Harilal. Not much is known about him.

Before I read the script, I didn't even know he existed! Of course, I was aware Gandhiji had a family. But I knew nothing about Harilal. A very minuscule number of people know about him. So it was relatively easy for me to play Harilal. I didn't have to copy someone people knew about.

So how did you get a grip on the character?

I asked my director Feroz Abbas Khan how to play him. He gave me Harilal's biography by Chandulal Dalal. For me the research was in capturing the spirit of the man. Then I read letters that Harilal had exchanged with Bapu and Kasturba. That was pretty much it.

Do you see Gandhi's son as a dark character?

Not dark at all. I see him as the most courageous character I've ever played. For any person, even the son, to stand up to Gandhi required a tremendous amount of courage. The entire British Empire couldn't stand up to Gandhiji. Harilal could!

Did you delve into your own relationship with your father to play Gandhiji's son?

Let me say one thing. I've never used my personal life experience to play any character. I read about actors digging into their experiences. To date I've never done that. I look for the emotions in the moment, and then I let it go. I don't carry my roles home. Yes, scenes in Gandhi have eaten into my soul.

Did you get a lot of support from your co-stars?

Darshan Jariwala, Shefali Shah and Bhoomika Chawla were extremely relevant to my performance. Let me tell you Darshan had a thankless task. It's terrifying to play Gandhi, especially after Ben Kingsley. I wouldn't have been able to do it. In spite of the enormity of his burden, Darshan has carried Gandhi off with ease.

And Shefali as Kasturba?

Please do not take my words lightly when I say hers is the single greatest performance given by an Indian actress. I can write this in blood.

Have you told her this?

Yes I have. She's one of those rare actors with an inborn talent. Highly underused and underrated. She just needed to be given the right opportunity. I can't put words to her performance.

How do you rate your own performance?

Yes, this is one film where I'm immensely satisfied with my work. I feel happy about my work. Not that I've ever left any stone unturned. But there's a quality to the film that benefited my performance. Every actor has excelled.

Feroz Abbas Khan as a director?

He's such an intellectual. In one sentence I'd say he's aesthetically intellectual. Anil Kapoor said he had yet to meet a director as deep as Feroz. He has immense integrity and honesty. This is his screen debut but it looks like he has done 20 films before. Coming from theatre and being an actor himself, Feroz has a tremendous sense of performance. It'd be extremely interesting to see where Feroz goes after Gandhi.

You did two comedies Shaadi Se Pehle and Salaam-e-Ishq. Now you've done a very dramatic role in Gandhi.

I don't want to suffocate myself by playing the slotting game. I see myself as an actor who does his job.

Were you disappointed when Salaam-e-Ishq and Naqaab didn't work? Hugely. I feel there was a lot of negative attitude towards Salaam-e-Ishq. It was virtually targeted. But I feel Salaam-e-Ishq pushed the envelope. I adored the script and the film and I can work with Nikhil Advani any time of the day.


Anonymous said...

interesting post. gandhi was inspired by the gita. read about it at this site about gandhi's writings about the gita

Anonymous said...

Akshaye Khanna says that ""I don't carry my roles home"". However, I think he should do the opposite. He must do lots of homeworks both on the sets and at home because he is a very good actor of great caliber. Thus, he needs to work hard, harder and hardest for the good, better and best result.

Anonymous said...

Beside his opinion about Shefali Shah, I would like to say that Akshaye Khanna is himself one of those "rare actors with an inborn talent". Like Shefali Shah, Akshaye Khanna is also "highly underused and underrated". He too just needs to be given the right opportunity. And, also, I can't put words to 'his' performance. Akshaye Khanna is better actor than Shefali Shah in some ways that directors should stop ignoring him.

Anonymous said...

I hope Farhan Akhtar, Aneez Bazmi and Nikhil Advani work with Akshaye Khanna again after Dil Chahta Hai, Deewangee and Salaam-e-Ishq! And Abbas Mustan too after Humraaz, 36, China Town, Naqaab and Race.

Anonymous said...

I hope Akshaye Khanna work with Priyandarshan too along with Farhan Akhtar, Aneez Bazmi and Nikhil Advani!! Also, with some other best directors like Karan Johar, Aditya Chopra, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Mani Ratnam who must sign Akshaye Khanna for their movies.........Please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And with actresses like Kareena Kapoor, Urvashi Sharma, Rani Mukherji, Ayesha Takia, Kagana Ranaut, Konkona Sen Sharma, Vidya Balan, Priyanka Chopra, Aishwarya Rai, Preity Zinta, Madhuri Dixit, Amrita Rao, and Kajol!!! Please!!!!!!!!!!!

With some newcomers like Sonam Kapoor and Deepika Padukone tooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

What about Feroze Abbas Khan?? He is a brillant director too! He directed Akshaye Khanna so beautifully in Gandhi, My Father! Hope, he directs Akshaye Khanna again after the film!

Anonymous said...

Hope Neeraj Vohra does full justice to showcase Akshaye Khanna's versatlity in Shortcut! Hope, he does not make preference between Akshaye Khanna, Arshad Warsi and Amrita Rao. Akshaye Khanna is playing the role of a director and he must get meatier role and scenes in Shortcut!!