A mass Communications graduate, Shadab Kamal wanted to be an actor when he was in class four. In B.A. Pass, he plays a gigolo who is exploited by women. Kamal, who won the best actor award at the Osian Cinefan Film Festival, gets candid:
How did director Ajay Bahl convince you to play a gigolo in B.A. Pass?
Dibyendu Bhattacharya, who plays an important role in the film, contacted one of my friends who recommended me. When I met Ajay, he said that I came across as an honest, uncorrupted guy. (Laughs) Whether I was actually uncorrupted or not, was not the point -- I looked the part.
Were you apprehensive?
Ajay told me, ‘I am not here to make a B-grade movie.’ He wanted to make a very true film and if you have read The Railway Aunty, (the short story by Mohan Sikka) from which the film has been adapted. He hasn’t strayed at all.
What is the defining quality of your character, Mukesh?
He is vulnerable and has no say in the decisions he makes in life.
In the film, a married woman (Shilpa Shukla) sexually exploits you. And then shares you with her married friends. Have you ever felt exploited?
No, I have not been exploited sexually. But I met a TV producer who talked to me about everything but the money for the assignment. When I asked, he said, ‘Let’s not talk money, I am offering you the opportunity of a lifetime.’ I guess this is exploitation too.
Do people feel equally sympathetic for an exploited male prostitute as they do for an exploited woman prostitute?
Most women feel that sex is not a big deal for men. Some men even opine: “So what if you were raped by a woman, you got sex!” But it is equally traumatic for the man when he is coerced to have sex. Yes, even a man can be raped.
Did you get any shocking reactions to the film?
After my film was screened at the Osian Film Festival, an unknown, married woman sent me a friend request on a social networking site. She said she wanted to be ‘special’ friends with me. I freaked out.
Were your love-making scenes with Shilpa Shukla choreographed?
When Shilpa and I were shooting for the film, Bahl did not go into the specifics of how we were to hold each other etc. We just went with the flow. The only difference between making love for real and portraying love for the screen is that there is no actual sex in the latter.
Were you awkward about facing Shilpa’s husband while shooting the scenes?
Initially, I was uncomfortable with him but he was understanding. We all realise that we are doing it for the camera.