He’s 49 and not afraid of turning 50 in an industry that prefers its actors to be on the right side of tens! Starting with theatre before moving to stand-up comedy and finally ending up in mainstream cinema, Adil Hussain has had an impressive run recently with roles in films such as Ishqiya, Agent Vinod, English Vinglish, Life of Pi and the upcoming The Reluctant Fundamentalist. We caught up with the humourous actor to know what he’s looking forward to...
How was it working with actresses like Sridevi and Tabu?
I was lucky and I believe anybody would feel the same in my place. This may sound clichéd but I learned a lot from them. You’re on the sets with Sridevi who has like 200-plus films under her belt and I’m there with only around 12 feature films so far. And then there’s Tabu whom you observe and admire for the way she maintains herself in front of the camera before and after she hears the word ‘action’. Both of them just effortlessly switch from real to reel.
How is the industry treating you so far?
All of them have been extremely warm toward me. To be candid, I’m a nobody in Bollywood. Yes, I have my own fan base in theatre but that’s a different ball game. Having won the highest prize Scotland has to offer to a theatre personality has little reckoning here.
Speaking of theatre, are you still active on the stage?
Of course, I am! Karmanishtha, a play on the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna, recently completed its 35th show in Pondicherry. I cannot leave theatre for cinema. That’s never going to happen.
Do you feel your age works against you?
If it works against me, it would work against any person of my age category. People write characters keeping your past work in mind and I’m sure the work I’m doing today proves my point. I don’t like dyeing my hair or else I might look 35, won’t I? (Laughs)
You’re active in regional films. How do you strike a balance between mainstream and offbeat?
I try to see both the mediums equally. If the role is not one-dimensional and has something for me to chew on, I just agree to the project be it in Bengali or Assamese. The script must convince me. The worst thing that could happen to an actor is getting bored of the camera.
Who inspires you as an actor?
Anthony Hopkins, Ben Kingsley. Daniel Day-Lewis and Philip Seymour Hoffman are some of my all-time favourites. Whenever I watch the kind of films these personalities appear in, I acknowledge the fact that one can’t rely on luck for long. The ability to enhance your craft counts a lot.