He left his home at 18 to pursue his passion and worked his way up from street plays to the National School of Drama and Drama Studio London. His award winning performance of Othello in Roysten Abel’s production of “Othello — A Play in Black and White” (1999) established him as an internationally acclaimed theatre artiste. Many of us might remember him as the sombre yet stern faced gun wielding detective in the famous BBC tele-series “Jasoos Vijay”. That was 12 years back. But for Adil Hussain, success doesn’t translate into commercial accomplishments. Come 2013 and the artiste is still struggling to make a mark on the Indian silver screen despite his capabilities. But that hasn’t deterred Hussain from his path, as he goes on with his love for the stage. The seasoned actor was recently at Aligarh Muslim University’s Film Club, conducting a workshop and spending a day with the club members. He was also awarded lifetime membership of the club.
Excerpts from an interview:
2012 has been the most successful year so far in your career in films as you were part of six major movies, including two Hollywood projects, “Life of Pi” and “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”. How does it feel?
Yes, it has been sort of (successful), and it feels nice (chuckles). But this is still a beginning phase. I still have a long way to go. I look forward to more defining roles in the near future though acting on screen is not my forte, it’s only the stage.
Why movies then?
For money, primarily. A performer can never have his or her fill and would perform through any medium. But my foremost intention behind doing movies is to make money to pursue my real interest (theatre) on a larger platform. So I just get on with it (movies) whenever it gets going. It takes huge money to take drama to the next level. Theatre in India is lying at the bottom and I want to revive its lost glory. Theatre needs extensive promotion in the country. It needs to be taken to the masses.
Theatre or films, which is more difficult according to you?
Theatre. Not only difficult, but more interesting and lively as well! There are no retakes, and you have got to perform in front of a live audience. A mistake done can’t be rectified. The interesting part of theatre is you can do an act in so many different ways and styles.
You just said theatre in India is lying at the bottom. So are the theatre artistes. What might be the reason(s)?
The problem lies with the ideology of our society. Unfortunately, in India success is defined by commercial viability. Without realising the true essence and beauty of arts, we measure its success on monetary parameters. An M.F. Husain creation is adored and looked at with awe in a corporate lounge, simply because it cost the owner in millions, and not due to its artistic value. There are no takers for theatre, as it has got no sponsors. The government has many other kinds of more important work to do. The investors and promoters would rather go with ‘masala films’.
But what choice do the investors and producers have but to go with the ‘masala’ movies, when they are so widely accepted among the audiences?
We, the film fraternity, is to blame for this masala culture, and not the audiences. We have the bigger responsibility of moulding the perceptions of the audiences. With our overdose of senseless cinema, we have made the audiences receptive to the same. We the show owners command the demand, and not the audiences.