Sandy’s interview with Nana Patekar

putting this up for Sandy..
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 Agnepath remake. Sandhya Iyer meets up with him at his Pune residence – the house he considered 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 and Agnisakshi 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 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.

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 my own films. 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.

17 Responses to “Sandy’s interview with Nana Patekar”

  1. Did know he didn’t want to do Agneepath but let’s say he’s being a bit diplomatic with the reason he’s offered here!

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    • ăbzee Says:

      Well of course he’s being diplomatic. Let’s just say Hrithik’s lucky to have him out of the way. Politically speaking though, this would’ve been an interesting casting, if flawed. Vijay is the rooted one in Agneepath, wanting to ‘reclaim’ his land from the Kancha Cheena intruder. With Nana as the bad guy here and Hrithik as the Vijay character, K-Jo’s Agneepath would’ve read the narrative in a diamterically contrary way… with Nana’s ‘native’ being the bad guy that needs to be ‘uprooted’ by the deracinated urban Vijay!

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      • You’re right though Johar wouldn’t have then been the ideal producer for this film! In fact I’ve always been suspicious about the fact that suddenly all of the original Agneepath’s downmarket characters get upgrades in the new film whereas the upscale ones are downgraded! So the suave Danny part is given over to Nana (now Dutt), the ‘monstrous’ Vijay is now played by Hrithik. Even the poor nurse becomes a prostitute in this version! Meanwhile the Mithun character (though I could never stand him in the original) gets written out of the script.

        In many films of the masala tradition the villain would be the more upmarket guy who would then treat the lower class hero with distinct condescension. But Johar can’t bear this idea! Everything now has to be reversed. I must say that the remake has annoyed me at many levels the nurse to prostitute shift is the most disgusting of the film’s many moves. Because Hrithik is obviously somewhat downmarket as a character. So the message is clear: you don’t even get a nurse if you’re below a certain social class. You just get the prostitute. Unbelievable! And then people wonder why I dislike Johar so much. Is there anything more monstrous than this guy?!

        You know there’s a certain Fellinesque angle here. In his films (Amarcord for example but also Roma and some others) Fellini shows us how a pure bourgeois stupidity gave rise to the monstrosity of fascism. So that all the ridiculous theater associated with Mussolini was really a mirroring of bourgeois (Italian) practices. And so we see how Italian families are at the dinner table, their regressive views on sexuality and so on.

        The Johar equivalent here is his own account of his ‘fat’ self in school being ridiculed by his class-mates. As is quite often the case. One should always fear this kind of person acquiring too much power. Because something monstrous then gets out! And this is precisely what happened with fascism in Italy (and elsewhere). a lot of ‘little men’ who got too much power.

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        • The actress in agneepath has no big role.Why are you concerned about it.In Amitabh films he is the main charecter.

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          • I know it’s not a central part (though the character shares some very key scenes with her) but I don’t understand the logical link that makes a nurse a prostitute!

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  2. Abzee, that’s a great reading…but Karan Johar’s likely reason to cast Nana would have been, “good looking vs. not-so-good looking”.

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  3. Henry,
    LOL!!!

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  4. alex adams Says:

    Easily one of the most underutilised talents along with manoj bajpai.
    Both were good in the recent raajneeti—

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  5. alex adams Says:

    Irfan Khan is quite good at the specific pitch he is good at.
    UNdoubtedly an excellent actor who knows how to underplay and speak with his eyes.
    Brilliant in “namesake” where he owned the immensely over rated tabu imo.
    Even in “billu”, he gave a few lessons to the “king”.
    But Nana and Manoj bajpai esp the former.
    The problem with these two is their extremely poor PR skills and inability to “assimilate with the team”.
    Also esp with nana, there is a tendency to get stuck up in his quirks and then he ends up being caricaturised
    Nana–just a cursory viewing of ab tak 56 or raajneeti is “revealing” enuf.
    Shool, aks performances start where many others end….

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  6. Alex,
    Just watch Bewafa once and let me know if you think the same of Bajpai.

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    • IAMTHAT Says:

      I concur with s someone sayin Irffan khan over nana n bajpai.. but Bajpai is talent gone gutters.. shool, aks n Pinjar : that was brilliant

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  7. alex adams Says:

    I dont watch films like bewafa….
    even if paid in cash (or kind)…..

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  8. So the message is clear: you don’t even get a nurse if you’re below a certain social class. You just get the prostitute. Unbelievable! And then people wonder why I dislike Johar so much. Is there anything more monstrous than this guy?!

    It happens when one writes to much between the line. In many hindi films rich guy falls for prostitutes and poor girl. So you think they want to give message that prostitutes can get rich guy.

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    • The rich guy falling for the prostitute (incidentally this Pretty Woman scenario is hardly common for Hindi cinema at any point in its history) is just a story on its own terms. Might be a fantasy but there’s not much more to it. In Pretty Woman there’s the idea that Gere inhabits a film of ruthless male brutes and/or completely fake women and so on. Either way the prostitute is the ‘nice’ and ‘warm’ girl with a golden heart that Gere cannot find in his own world. So before he can truly get together with her he has to abandon his own universe in some sense or at least change his ways. So at the ideological level this is rather simplistic pandering to middle American ‘values’.

      The Hindi equivalent of this is the rich heiress falling in love with the ‘driver’ (chauffeur). Of course the ‘driver’ then looks like Dharmendra and therefore a somewhat dishonest move is performed here. Because it depends on the audience instantly realizing that this driver doesn’t look like any other driver they know. and hence they can fully invest in the fantasy all the while knowing that it couldn’t possibly come happen. In other words if it’s Dharmendra it’s ok to fall in lover with drivers. But hey there is no driver who looks like Dharmendra! This mediates the otherwise larger message about the mixing of classes and it all being about good human beings and love and what not.

      Again something that happens on its own terms. With Agneepath it’s the opposite. Johar’s own universe has no room for prostitutes. It doesn’t even have room for drivers or laborers or just about anyone who cannot afford five trips a year to London. But this time he’s doing an Agneepath remake. Well, the problem here is that even Agneepath doesn’t have a prostitute. So why is this extraordinary step taken to introduce one? It’s not as if the nurse becomes a secretary or something. That sort of change in profession one could understand but a prostitute? why?! And my larger point was that Johar is following a certain code here. Inverting everything at a class level. And I saw the prostitute as part of such a move. In the original the idea that the gangster could get the nurse was precisely ‘interesting’ because there was something odd about that match. In any case gangsters of any significance are not generally in the habit of marrying prostitutes! In this sense the nurse example is more ‘realistic’ because most of them have rather ordinary wives one way or the other.

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