Unscripted – Ali Fazal in conversation with W.A

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Fazal has no pre-written scripts, or filters to control the outflow of
his emotions. He paints a vision in my head, as his words flow from the depths of his heart in the answers he pens down, in between his hectic schedule. And the picture seems as ‘real’ as it can get!

Q. Was becoming an actor always ‘the Dream’?

“If I was growing up in a suitable environment, I would have probably picked up clues from the Universe that I was growing up to become an actor.” And he immediately justifies how, “I was one heck of a storyteller. What’s the right word? Yes! Jugaadu. But back then, I had no clue. I studied science and economics and was sincerely indulged in sports.”

Everyone has a before and an after in their life and Fazal delves deeper, as he shares the moment that changed the course of his life. “I broke my shoulder while participating in a basketball match. That was it, the end of my sporty dream. I took the road to acting, when I did my first play, during my time in The Doon School.” He excitedly calls the experience an incurable disease. “The high and the power of controlling the emotions of my audience with my performance was like a 3D version of all the wizard stories I’d heard from my mother while growing up.”

Fazal confirms to have continued strolling the lane from boarding school to college in the ‘geek’ avatar until one day, when he received a call from Raju Hirani, the Director of 3 Idiots, who spotted him, during a play performance at Prithvi (theatre).

Q. From ‘Then to Now’ – Has it been a smooth sail since 3 Idiots?

“Smooth sounds like James Bond. No! That suit’s gotta get dirty, and re- stitched. If an actor is smooth, he/she is the Director’s spouse,” Fazal writes peppered with giggles (I am sure!). “I had a confusing journey. Growing up watching and adulating the world of cinema, I had honestly considered myself to be the shit in this vast world.” With an I am not perfect, but I am real attitude Fazal adds, “I took this up as a challenge, and I thought I will do this for a while, because I can, and because I like acting. Prove myself that I can do it, and then leave. But somewhere between breezing through this arrogance, my foot set deeper, as interesting projects kept coming my way.

Q. Did you experience a ‘slow down’ in your sail?

Fazal now reminisced the time when ‘Always Kabhi Kabhi’ released. “That was one big hard crash when my first film in a lead role was a smashing flop. We thought the script is far better than that Dharma movie on school coming, and with the backing of Shahrukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment, I had high hopes from this film.” Innocent haha’s, and a few complaints about being in the ‘naive 20
something phase’ later, Fazal writes, “but they liked me in 3 idiots, you know? The expectations made sense.” And I couldn’t agree more! But that’s how he absorbed one important lesson of the industry. “The industry is huge. Grow up, look outside and around you. You’re just a speck out here, Stop sulking!”

Q. All these years later, what would you call the turning point in your career?

“I’ve worked to find a way off the road. I am filming that as I write back to you. But I’d like to think, Happy Bhag Jayegi has been an experience that has shaped me. I realised somewhere in the year 2016 that there is a change and I am a proud part of it. You know what’s the exciting thing? I WANT to be a part of this change.”

Q. The traits that have proven to be an asset for you?

“My need to RE-INVENT and throw myself in all kinds of set ups. I love that the word ‘ACTOR’ is huge and I have this urge to reach out for it all, before time runs out.” At this point, he quickly clarifies, “I always deviate from the topic, my answer to you is, I have this innate sense of
what the ground might smell like, so I don’t doubt myself and I jump into it.”

Q. The biggest challenges of an actor…

“Getting the job,” he writes. “The challenge is in how comfortable you are in wearing the clothes and acclimatising in weirdly lit rooms that are not yours.” A food for thought! But he volunteers to explain elaborately, “It’s the Bollywood Maths that is one heck of a challenge.
You have to be ‘Positioned’. Do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you. It’s like a password required to enter the interface. And if you are an entertainer then it’s kind of fun.”

Q. And the perks…

“Once in my life, I have used the privileged ‘actor card’. I was at Juhu PVR and I was late for the movie and I didn’t get the tickets, I said
haan, mera woh picture chaalu hai, andar, crowd reaction dekhne aaya hoon, abhi aaya. I did pay for the ticket later, I offered to.”

Q. What impacts your decision of accepting a script?

“A read that gets me hooked! But the decision also depends on the director involved, the ‘role’ I have been offered, and the producer.”

Q. Do you see yourself as a Film Director someday?

“Hell yes! The next 10 years, I will be grooming myself for that.” With Fazal, answers are not just stereotype reverts of your questions; they come wrapped in a package of wit and humour. “We actors think we are very important creatures, but we are puppets trying to catch our strings and change our performance. But the point is, we are hanging on those strings.” He adds, “I love every aspect of cinema. One is tough enough! So for now, I am focusing on learning acting.”

Q. Upcoming projects that we can look forward to…

“Stephen Frears’s, ‘Victoria and Abdul’. The movie is based on the true story of the Queens closest confidant, written by Lee Hall. I shall be jumping straight next, into the sequence of Fukrey.”

Q. Do you believe in the idea of finding true love?

“I believe in the magic of love! In the madness of love! It is probably the most hurtful emotion and the word of all words, if ‘word’ be the right definition. Occasionally, I have felt, love is a clue you hang on to. Like the ‘L’ of love… you will find it on your way! Hooking up is not love,” he clarifies and adds in a jiffy, “I am hopeless.” From his heartfelt reply, I gather, we have found the rare kind, the kind who feels deeply – the kind of feelings, people write novels about.

Q.Do you believe in the institution of marriage? What kind of a husband would you make?

“I think marriage can work, if you really want it to. I’d make the good kind! The kind that can deal with baby poop and an empty kitchen. However, I respect the non-believers.”

Q. A message you would like to share with our readers?

I feel amazing right now, writing these answers down, for Wedding Affair. Glad to be a part of this!

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