‘I am optimistic and have no fear of failure’

With 35 years in the industry and over 500 films, how do you look at the change in the industry over the years?

The most important is that the audience has changed. Today’s audience have a lot of choices for themselves. You have stage, cinema, theatre, web series and more.

Now-a-days, cinema is shot on digital medium and not on film reels. Also, behind the scenes, the technology has changed. With it, it has brought a certain amount of formality.

Earlier after scenes, people used to sit together and talk. Now they take to their mobile phones and vanity vans. However, cinema as a whole has always been about telling a story. This has continued and will continue.

In On Day: Justice Delivered, you play a retired judge, Tyagi. Tell us more about the character.

The film starts with the first day of the retirement of Tyagi. He talks about the law and the judgement. He a very clear track record throughout his career. However, any judge has to rely on the rule book.

Even in personal life, even if the judge knows who the culprit is, he cannot pass the judgement according to personal belief. He has to go as per evidence that is placed in front of him.

On the first day of the retirement, an encounter takes place. It is during this that the judge realises that in four cases that were tabled in front of him, he had to let go of the culprits...despite knowing that they were criminals. The story revolves around how post-retirement, the judge hunts them down and kills them.

You rated your performance in Accidental Prime Minister as the best performance of your life. How do you rate your performance in this film?

This role is very different and cannot be compared to the role of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. It is because the role was that of a living character. He is a person who we all have seen through media and otherwise.

I try to bring in a certain element in the roles that I portray. It is something that is based on realism. Here I am playing the role of a character who is hunting down and killing people. This is not something that I have done before.

Today, you get scripts where you do not have to follow a certain way of cliched acting. One can reinvent oneself as an actor with every single role that one takes up. From that point of view, this is a very different role.

You speak openly about political, social and many such issues. Coming from an industry where people try to be in everyone’s good books, where does the strength come from?

The strength comes from your own beliefs and upbringing. It comes from the core of you...as an individual. It is about being who you are: a self-made person. Personally, for me, 20 years ago I would have been more careful.

However, as you progress in life, you tend to become a certain type of person. It is when you become a certain kind of person, one has to deal with that. First of all, I have to love and live by myself than to love and live with others.

It is not important to be popular with everybody, but it is very important to be popular with yourself. Those who are not your friends because of what you believe in are not your friends at all.

Fortunately, there are 99 percent of people who have shown respect for my views and to me. The rest are those one per cent who are pseudo liberals and intellectuals who are not important for me.

You have headed FTII and also chaired CBFC. What all needs to be changed for betterment in the industry?

Being on both sides of the table, it is important to do a lot of things. I am a doer and not a critic. There is a section of people who always criticise. These people will never contribute.

Also, there is nothing called as perfection. We are humans who tend to make mistakes. Yes, I agree that there are a lot of changes that are required. However, those changes are not easy.

As a team, it is time for all of us to contribute in making things better. We keep our homes spotless clean. When it comes to the nation, we are cold and passive.

Had Netflix and other modern mediums been with you in your early days, how different would have things been?

I was never dependent on the medium. I knew who I was. I am a trained actor from a very special drama school. I have worked very hard on bringing up myself. I have slept on the platform bench and have come right from the bottom.

However, today it is a very good platform for aspiring actors. Recently, people started calling me a thespian, veteran and all. That is when I decided that it was better to take a break and move to something that was totally new for me.

That is when I went to New York and worked in a TV series. I am optimistic and have no fear of failure. I knew that I will find work. I have full faith in my training and acting. When you are optimistic, fearless and strong in your beliefs, you are bound to find work.