Never failing to call a spade a spade, Nana Patekar is for once delighted with the way his film Shagird has turned out. He also lets out why he refused the Agneepath remake. Sandhya Iyer meets up with him at his Pune residence - the house he considers dearest to him
Nana Patekar is not known to mince words, and this extends to his own films, many of which he bluntly refuses to endorse if he does not fancy the final product. Which is why we were pleasantly surprised to get a call from the temperamental, albeit highly talented actor's media managers informing that Nana would like to speak on his Friday release Shagird at his Pune residence.
Shagird has Nana Patekar in the central role of a Delhi cop, with director Anurag Kashyap playing an important character. The film, directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia, who made a fine debut with Haasil, is about corrupt police officers and moral choices. Shagird also has Mohit Alhawat (James) in a pivotal role, and Nana swears by the actor's work in this film.
As we reach the actor's apartment, it is Nana's son Malhar who opens the door for us. As we make ourselves comfortable, we notice how aesthetically the home has been done up - with wonderful Victorian style wood furniture, artifacts and carvings. Every corner of the house has quite evidently been done up keeping the actor's fastidious tastes in mind.
As we get called in, we see Nana reclining lazily on his bed in his shorts, watching TV. "Sit where you want," he commands with an informal, cheery air. Once you begin your questions, it's impossible to keep the actor from constantly digressing. His mind flits from one thing to another, as he alternatives between English and Marathi, interspersing the conversation with many dialogues from both his film Shagird and his other forthcoming Marathi film, Deool (Temple) - on the commercialisation of religious shrines - which he's terribly excited about.
He talks a great deal about Shagird. "He's a mad character, totally eccentric with a weird sense of humour and peculiar way of talking," he says enacting a few scenes. Its mere recollection fills him with child-like delight. "You have to see it, that's all I can say," he says with a wide grin.
Malhar enters the room, with glasses of lime juice. He asks if the AC needs to be switched on. Nana wonders why he is still at home. "Let someone else do this ..don't you have to go!," he says in Marathi. The actor informs us that Malhar has studied filmmaking and acting in New York and is looking to enter films. "Let's see what he does," he says trailing off.
He once again plays a cop in Shagird
. So how will this be different from Ab Tak Chappan, we ask? "The plot is somewhat similar, but that was a straight character. This has many shades of grey," he says, talking some more about why the film is so special.
The fact that he plays a twisted cop, with some interesting quirks may be delightful to watch again, but hasn't that anyway been a signature style of Nana's? From Parinda to Krantiveer
to Taxi No 9211
, he has played edgy, troubled, volatile characters, hasn't he? "But in Ab Tak Chappan and recently Raajneeti, I played straight roles," he counters. "I had very few dialogues in Raajneeti. That was decided by me and the director (Prakash Jha)," he says. Is all well between him and Jha? There were reports that Nana was unhappy with his role that led to his split with the director. "No no," he shakes his head. "I fight with everyone. I liked Raajneeti a lot. It was a good film. Now, whether he wants to work with me or not, he has to decide," he says.
We try and get him to talk a little more about his aggressive characters and he attributes it to his early days as an actor. "I must have been in my 20s. I had this massive inferiority complex. I was too aggressive as a human being. I would insult others before they could say anything to me. It was a defence mechanism. I think I used that feeling a lot in my films. Now I see everyone is doing the kind of roles which I did at one time. That's human nature. Everyone has quirks." he says, speaking as and how his train of thoughts will travel.
Frequently, the actor has been accused of being repetitive with his high-pitched dialogue delivery. "But I always go by the pitch of the film. If people in an area are starving and food is being distributed, they have to shout if they want to get a packet. If they are going to whisper it, then no one will pay attention," he says, acting out both versions. "So in a film like Krantiveer, I had to be high-pitched, because that was its tone. It was a loud film. I modulate my performances in keeping with what the film demands from the character," he says.
Talk veers to a film he recently turned down - Karan Johar's Agneepath remake, where he was offered Danny Denzongpa's role. "I thought the script was too gory and violent. I don't like that. I feel violence never shouts. If you go to see, Agnisakshi was a very violent film, but there is nothing gory about it. There is no bloodshed. Kiran (Malhotra) is actually my friend, Ravi Malhotra's son. Kya karen
. I don't like too much sensationalism," he says. So it was not a script he fancied, you press the question some more. "Have you seen Jackie Chan movies? Do you see blood anywhere? I prefer that," he says, avoiding being too blunt about the subject.
Somewhere from there he turns to the actors whom he likes, and names Dilip Kumar, Balraj Sahni and Naseeruddin Shah. "These are consistently great actors. No one else apart from them have lingered on in my mind," he says. He talks about Neeraj Pandey's A Wednesday
and heaps lavish praise on his performance. Did he wish he had done the part? "You know when I met Naseer, he said to me, 'Arre, yeh role ke liye maine pehle tera naam suggest kiya tha'
But it seems the makers thought I was a difficult guy to work with," he smiles.
On his direction plans, Nana passionately narrates to us the script that has been ready with him for a while. But he has no idea when he will make it. "In my mind's eyes, I have already seen the film. Then it's only about making it for the audience, and I'm not always in that mood," he says.
For now, Nana is eagerly awaiting the audience response for Shagird
. "They are going to love it," he says, as a final note. "I never hesitate from calling my films bad. I never see them even. I'm very detached after I complete a film. So when I sign a project, I make it clear to the makers that I will say what I feel about a film if the media asks me, depending on how it has turned out. I say, I will only market a film if I believe in it."
It goes without saying that the actor is completely bowled over by his Friday release.