Vijay Raaz appears notoriously thin and much taller than what he seems on the big screen. He looks like a no-nonsense filmmaker but the actor who recently turned director with his upcoming anti-war film is not so keen on giving up acting anytime soon.
After his noteworthy performance in Monsoon Wedding more than a decade ago, Vijay has been pretty much a regular in both mainstream as well as offbeat films. In a candid chat, he turns philosophical about his profession, passion and project.
Was direction the obvious next step for you?
I wanted to turn director for quite sometime now because I wanted to say things my own way. When this story came along, I simply jumped at the chance.
So what prompted you to make a film on Partition?
I’m basically from Delhi and I guess we have all grown up on horrifying tales related to Partition. It has been an important part of our childhood so naturally there was a tendency to narrate this story which is simple, innocent and yet so complex.
Was your family affected by the post-1947 migration in any way?
No, my immediate family wasn’t but there is this story that I wanted to convey. Even if it is fictitious, it has shreds of truth in it. On the screen, it becomes layered and interesting too.
You’re acting as well as directing? Wasn’t it difficult to juggle both the roles?
(Pauses) Not at all! It was more fun actually. Since I was directing, there was an unusual clarity of thought and that helped in portraying my role in a far better way as well. Having said that, directing is tougher because it has a wider horizon and greater responsibilities.
How did Gulzar become a part of your film?
Gulzar saab saw the film and its post-Independence drama apparently moved him so much that he decided to be associated with it. He’s the most popular name we’ve got on the credit roll. And he not only mentored but also wrote poems for the film.
You usually portray hatke characters. Why so?
I only choose roles I can comfortably slip into. I don’t know whether the film will do well. I’m not a factory actor or a regular director, as I don’t come from the Bollywood set-up.
Where exactly do you see offbeat films in this current scenario?
They are gradually making their place. Change takes time. It took years for rickshaw drivers to buy a ticket for Ek Tha Tiger without giving a damn about the reviews. Sometimes you make good films and sometimes you create just a loyal audience.