The only thing we learn from a new election is we learned nothing from the old. But post 26/11, things have started to get a bit serious...too serious it may seem for Shreyas Talpade. The elections are two weeks away and the actor who was personally invited on behalf of the Chief Minister of Maharashtra for the Prime Minister's meet recently has decided to enter active politics in the near future. After having a candid chat with Shreyas at his Waldorf apartments on an extremely hot summer afternoon over a cool, sweet and salty nimbu paani, we almost read the actors mind and figured out his inner most revelation - a politician thinks of the next election but a citizen like Talpade, of the next generation. We find out more about the intentions of the actor's plunge into the big bad world of politics, his lost faith in the security and judiciary, his advice for the youngsters interested in joining politics and of course...his films,Paying Guest, Click and Aage Se Right.
It's a dog eat dog situation when you enter the political battlefield. You ready for it?
Well, let me clear the air. I was invited by the CM for the PM's party meet. They all spoke well and we sat there for a good couple of hours. I was accompanied by Subhash Ghai and Manmohan Shetty. I wanted to meet our PM because I respect that person a lot but we didn't get a chance. I wasn't supporting any party as such. I was just invited and I had to honour the invite. Today our job doesn't end by going and voting. It's a little bit more than that. Post 26/11, we all are shaken up. Ab maamla ghar tak aa gaya hain. Today, one has to be a bit more responsible and involved, and if that involvement means me getting into politics, I really don't mind. So may be in the next elections, you'll see my involvement.
There is a price you pay when you join politics. How do you deal with it?
To a certain extent it is. Every now and then you hear some candidate being shot or murdered. Politics has become dirty. Someone told me that even today; the ratio of good people is more than that of the bad. When this same ratio is flipped, we need to be alarmed about. Having said that, there are lots more educated people coming into politics now and are trying for a change. And things will change. Perhaps it might take two more elections or let's say one more. We have got everything inherited from our ancestors and it's time we give something back to our future generation.
It seems you've lost trust somewhere.
You're right. I've lost faith completely post 26/11. I don't trust anyone. I just want that faith to come back. The whole idea is to trust someone or someone trusts you. I was in South Africa when the Taj and Trident incident happened. I was there for the next thirty days and missed being part of those rallies and ceremonies. I wanted to be with my India and my people in time of grief. I was frustrated. In fact, post 26/11; people have become a bit responsible if not trustworthy.
With so many successors ahead of you, as a youngster, how far do you want to reach in politics?
Let's say in acting, I want to be number one. I want to be the best and I'll do what I can to compete with SRK, Ranbir Kapoor or whoever. Politics is a completely different ball game all together. Politics is all about coming together than competing with each other. My idea is not to be the PM of India. But even if I can do something in my locality, it'll be great. If I can make my area secured, I've won my election.
How much room is there for idealism in political leadership and achieving your goals?
I think idealism is the factor that'll prompt you or motivate you to do certain things. The word idealism exists but it's time we need to give some meaning and depth to it. Each party started off with some ideology and down the line we see that it has gone for a complete toss. Few days back I read an interview where Mr. Sanjay Dutt was asked about his manifesto which stated that the party will ban English and there won't be computers, machines won't be used for farming, etc. When asked Mr. Dutt on his comments about the manifesto, he said, "I was busy campaigning. I didn't have time to read it". My question is - What was Mr. Dutt campaigning about? I think that things are really going wrong somewhere. Is there any room for idealism here?
Do you ever stop and think back how you could've handled things differently if you weren't an actor?
I don't know what I would've done. Probably get a stable job in a nationalized bank. And before you ask why a bank job, because there is an inter bank drama competition. That's how my hobby can be fulfilled.
If a young person came to you who wanted to live a life of activism, a political life, what would your advice be to him?
When I started doing Iqbal, there was one thing that Nagesh Kukunoor told me that if I ever wanted to succeed as an actor, I just needed to be honest with myself and the character I was portraying. I'd like to advice all youngsters to be honest to themselves in whatever they do.
What do you see as the biggest challenge ahead? Not just for you and India, but for the world which is heading quick in the 21st century?
At the moment, the biggest problem we are facing is security. Every side and part of the world is under tremendous tension. We are more worried now and want to find out who has come to live next to us, meaning our neighbours. Who are they? Where have they come from? etc. The trust and security issue is what we need to handle in the current scenario. Most of our revenue is going in defense services, arms and ammunitions. So if that's the case, why is there a lapse in security each year? Get it sorted man!
Tomorrow if you join politics, what would be your Indian Dream?
Everybody wants to see India on the global map, the next super power, etc. That's secondary. I want to get my faith back and that's my primary concern. And not just me. The whole nation wants to get their sense of security and faith in the political scenario and the security of our country. If they can do that, I'll be like a King. That for me is my Indian Dream.
From a serious topic, let's move on to a bit on the light side. Films. Do you think post the strike; many films are going to suffer. I mean, there is always a right time and the right place for films to release?
I completely agree with you. I also feel that today people can smell films. They see the first promo and the first poster of the film and decide whether they want to go and watch it or not. But if your story is good, it'll work and recover its money, and that's not rocket science. For some films, a lot of word of mouth is required. My first film was pitted against No Entry. Still both films worked in some way or the other.
Take us through Click
Click is a horror thriller film directed by Sangeeth Sivan. I've worked with him in Apna Sapna Money Money. Actually, people see him as a comedy director but I guess his forte is suspense thrillers and horror. We've got some very good songs in the film too. And this is my first ever horror film. So I'm looking forward to it.
And Paying Guest?
It's a story of four friends who are staying as PG's out of India. One fine day they are kicked out from the place they are staying and the job they are doing. Due to certain circumstances, they have no place to live and no work to do. One lie to another and the balloon bursts.
What about Aage Se Right?
Aage Se Right is a comedy flick with a Pink Panther sort of humour. It's not slapstick. It's a UTV and Ronnie film. It's a story about a cop who loses his gun and there is a terrorist in the film too. He finds his gun but again the gun goes somewhere else. It's a bizarre thought but it's something never been made before. It's because of the one wrong 'right' turn I take and what happens.
Are you happy in the small space you've made for yourself in the industry?
I am very happy. I am also ambitious and want to grow and achieve a lot of things. I know I will but want to give a bit of time to it. I want to stay here for a long time. So with the pace I'm going, I am safe and sound. But in my entire journey, I'd love to work with Raj Kumar Santoshi because I think he has got a very honest and an aggressive approach towards all his films. Mani Ratnam is the next director I'd love to work with because of his superb and diverse filmography. Having said that, I've also worked with a completely different school of directors. From Nagesh and Shyam Benegal to Farah Khan.