Shrinking attention span of audiences worrying, says Arif Zakaria

Komal Panchamatia
·3-min read

Mumbai, Mar 29 (PTI) Seasoned actor Arif Zakaria says people easily forget a film and a performance if it fails to make an impact the first time due to the shrinking attention span of audiences.

The 54-year-old actor is known for delivering critically-acclaimed performances in movies such as 'Chunauti', 'Darmiyaan', '1947: Earth' and 'Raazi'.

'The big films have had commercial release, people saw it. People need to see your work for them to appreciate it. The tragedy with our line is, I could have cut myself and drawn blood on a project but if you haven’t seen it, it is as good as nothing has happened.

'We are living in a transitory phase where anything you are doing, if it doesn’t hit you on first impact, it is gone. You forget what you have seen unless it has made a big impact,' Zakaria told PTI in an interview.

The actor featured in three back-to-back releases recently, including Abhay Deol-starrer web series '1962: The War In The Hills', Karan Singh Grover’s 'Qubool Hai 2' and in the film 'Ahaan'.

Zakaria, however, said all three projects went unnoticed as they were not made on a bigger scale.

'We are living in scary times for performing artists because the attention span of people is zero. In the last two weeks, I have had three releases but probably you will not see anything because it hasn’t appealed to you or you haven’t seen anything.

'So when people ask me, ‘what am I doing’, I have three projects out, what more should I do? Our space is occupied with so much around us and unless it is big and underlined you won’t even see it,' the actor added.

Zakaria said smaller movies are largely ignored as there is no money spent on publicising them.

'If you have a big Salman Khan film and you spend Rs 100 crore publicizing it and you are splashing it all over so you end up seeing it (the film) everywhere, you will remember it.

'Look at 'Ahaan'. PVR got the release but we are grappling to make the space somewhere. Nobody goes to theatres. Imagine our plight; we are beggars here with a begging bowl. It’s a fact,' he added.

Despite all this, Zakaria is hopeful that 'Ahaan', which released in theatres on March 19, will make an impact on the audiences because of its true and simple storytelling.

The film revolves around an endearing young man with Down syndrome (Abuli Mamaji) in contact with a self-indulgent man suffering from OCD (Zakaria).

The actor said the film sheds light on two contrasting personalities - the protagonist suffering from Down syndrome, a genetic disorder and his character of Ozzy who has OCD, something that comes from one’s own behaviour.

'It is a contrast between somebody having a genetic disorder and somebody who has cultivated a disorder through habit and how he undergoes change due to Abuli’s character. It is quite interesting and funny. You should feel nice and warm looking at both the characters,' he said.

The actor believes it is a constant battle to make people, who suffer from genetic disorder, part of mainstream society.

'It is an old battle that one is fighting all the time against people with such disorders genetic or otherwise and how they try to make their place in society and how we should perceive them and deal with them and perhaps be sympathetic with them.

'The constant battle is how to incorporate them into the mainstream and treat them normally,' he said.

Zakaria said cinema can highlight issues and draw people's attention to such causes but it cannot bring a long-lasting change in the society.

'Cinema doesn’t have the power to change anything. It could entertain you, it could highlight for a brief moment and make you conscious. But what to do with that consciousness is your own sensibility and value system which has to take over.' 'Ahaan', directed by Nikhil Pherwani, also features Niharika Singh, Rajit Kapoor and Plabita Borthakur. PTI KKP RB BK BK