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Ramu's aesthetics in Nishabd aren't to be denied
Right. If you've seen the film you'd know this isn't the Ram Gopal Varma of Sarkar. It's hard to believe he has come with something so sensitive. So far he has made gangster films like Sarkar and Satya.
Did you have apprehensions about doing the film?
None at all. I agreed in five minutes to do the film. At this stage of my life I think it's my duty as an actor to do as many kinds of roles as possible. When one is younger, the lead role comes with commercial constraints. When that weight has gone from one's head, one feels freer. Yes, I'm freed from the pressures of commercialism. After Eklavya, Nishabd is a total departure from whatever I've done. Then there's Cheeni Kum which is a quirky satire. The audience has now matured. Of course there's a big audience for the popcorn movie like Dhoom 2. But there's a growing audience wanting to think and introspect during a film. That's how a Nishabd is born.
Did Nishabd allow you to be more adventurous than any other role?
The plot presented a difficult situation. I'm just happy with the way Ramu presented it. It's all up to the director. Ramu has always given me the freedom to express myself openly, to interpret his brief in any way I want. Sometimes the shot is over. But he doesn't stop the camera. And you just have to carry on acting.
I think all your directors give you that freedom?
Well, yeah, to some extent. But Ramu has always given me that extra space. Invariably there's a lot of give-and-take on his sets. He always surprises me with the way he puts together my expressions on the editing table.
Jiah Khan is the youngest co-star you've worked with...
Not quite. Ayesha Kapoor in Blackwas my youngest co-star. Jiah is very good. You won't be able to tell this is her first film. She's a wonderful artiste and a colleague.
It's amazing what a variety of co-stars you have these days.
Oh yes, I'm truly thankful. And such a variety of roles. I've Tabu as my co-star in Cheeni Kum. What an artiste! Whatever the emotions within her are reflected on her face. The beauty of her performances is that whatever she feels is shown on her face. That's an unbelievable quality in an artiste. We generally try to come as close to what's required from us . Not Tabu. She goes the whole hog. She feels every bit of her emotions. It's a hallmark of a true artiste. The rest of us aren't that sincere. We sometimes fake the emotions. I don't know the methodology of her performance is. I just have to see her face to know she's getting it right.
There was a sense of disappointment regarding Eklavya?
I don't share that disappointment. I look at Eklavya as a very smart film. Vidhu Vinod Chopra's intelligence and intellectual wherewithal comes across in the film. The fact that it's doing so well overseas proves there's a certain intellectual quotient being applied to Eklavya overseas. It isn't so evident over here. But I want to compliment Vidhu Vinod Chopra for being ahead of his times. I love the fact that Vinod has taken a Shakespearean concept and placed it in Rajasthan. I love the fact that he has taken mythology that's thousands of years old and challenged it. Don't we many a times want to challenge these age-old beliefs? As a movie-goer you've to be slightly smarter while watching a film like Eklavya. I'm not disappointed with Eklavya. But if the money-paying audience is unhappy with it, we'll have to respect that.