Mission Majnu actor Ashwath Bhatt: Some superstars are now realizing why their films are not working – Exclusive – Times of India

Actor Ashwath Bhatt doesn’t mince words when it comes to speaking his mind. After playing different characters in films like Raazi, Kesari, Haider and others, Ashwath will now be seen playing the real-life role of a decorated military general, a dictator in director Shantanu Bagchi’s upcoming film Mission Majnu. In an exclusive interview with ETimes, Ashwath talks about how he enjoys the process of building a character, being typecast in certain roles, the challenges he faced in his career and how the film industry What kind of reforms had to go through.
Tell us what it took to create your character in Mission Majnu.

When the casting company called me for the role, I said, ‘No, I don’t want to do it’, because I’m trying to avoid doing the same things, you know, typecasting and stereotyping of the person. It was a very tough call then considering I have never played a real life character (played a couple of times on stage) on screen. So it became quite interesting and a challenge of sorts. And the way he persuaded me, I said, ‘Okay, I’ll play the role.’ And it’s not about screen time, it’s about the character’s importance to the story. And then, of course, I must compliment the make-up team, a lot of trials and tweaks happened, and finally we got different looks because there is a particular period in the film. Several times before every take, I used to repeat the lines of his speech. It really helped me understand what to say on camera.

Since you were apprehensive about the role, were you able to enjoy the process?

Yes so much. Because once I say yes to something, I find ways to enjoy it that I otherwise wouldn’t do. This is my inherent nature. Because I say no to many things. And I’m very picky about what I do. So if I am saying yes, then I am totally into it. I’ll also look at other people’s performance and learn whatever I can from it. I used to look at monitors or even other people and just to see the craft of filmmaking, to understand the sound of the camera, to talk to the sound people. So that’s actually what I love doing and it was great working with director Shantanu Bagchi for the first time.

How was your rapport with Sidharth Malhotra and Rashmika Mandanna on the sets?

Well, I didn’t have any scene with him. I had a parallel track with him at various levels. That’s why I didn’t have any conversation with him. At least this film has nothing to do with him.

You made your South debut with Seetha Ramam. How different was working in South cinema from Hindi cinema?

Fat-fat is the same, times have changed now. Everyone is professional, everyone knows the process of filmmaking. What I sometimes see different is the approach of the directors. There is a kind of calmness among the people of the South as compared to the people of the North. This is my experience. For Sita Ramam, I loved the process of finding Ansari’s look. It’s something I always say to directors in the beginning that ‘I will be part of the process of developing this look and not just do what I will be asked to do on camera. I am not being arrogant about it but I would like to be a part of the process, collaborate on different things and try to innovate in every character I play. Otherwise, it is a very boring process. I have nothing against the people who are doing this, but I don’t know how they manage it, survive it. I will Survive.

Has working in Seetha Ramam opened doors for you in the South?

I’m getting some offers but, you know, it’s the same thing, you have a good portion on your plate and they try to give you the same portion. So I had to say no to one or two of them. I am not in a hurry. I think I have a lot of patience.

Do you feel that you are being typecast in certain roles?

Look, I’ve been talking about this a lot. In the past also I have been open about this because I speak without any fear. Many times people do not like to speak in the press or in public as it might offend someone and will not get the job. But I speak my mind. Someone will tell me that you all play Muslim parts, so I don’t have control over everything. But then no one talks to the other actors and tells them that you are all playing Hindu roles. My parts in Haider, Kesari or Raazi are from different eras, different nationalities and different backgrounds. But when they see you as a Muslim, they think, ‘Well, they all play Muslim characters.’ Have they seen me playing different characters in Cartel, or Aghori? So this is not the right way to do it.

Has it been tough for you in the film industry because you speak your mind?

I will still say, looking back at my peers who studied with me at the National School of Drama in New Delhi, I still feel very blessed and fortunate to be getting what I want. I have not been in Bombay for a long time. And I was traveling a lot around the world doing other things. Then again, being a part of Mira Nair’s films, Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s cinema or for that matter, Vishal Bhardwaj and Dennis Tanovic. You can only be grateful and nothing else. It is also very inspiring to see my juniors, some of my co-actors or directors doing some amazing work for NSD. It’s just that people get a little insecure and I haven’t been insecure all my life. I have never put all my eggs in one basket because I teach as well as do theatre. I also teach outside India. It keeps me away from boredom.

But yes, I would be happy if someone gives me comedy, some dark and different shades of roles, different genres of roles to play. And they will happen. I am revealing it. I am saying this from the point of view of artistic satisfaction. And I’m saying this very honestly, I don’t mind if you get any awards and things like that. Every artist needs that recognition and appreciation. And if I don’t get appreciated, it definitely affects me. But then I don’t let it get the better of me and make me pessimistic or jealous or hate someone too much. I say, ‘Okay, keep working. When it comes, it comes. As with a lot of great actors, his performance has never received any awards. But still he continued to work for the rest of his life. But then when people tell you that you should have been given an award for that performance, that itself is an award. I often say that it is better to be an underrated than an overrated actor. There is enough space for everyone.

How do you say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a project?

Primarily, the first thing you would ask is what is the role? Secondly, I would ask myself have I done this part before? No. Is it in my area, is it part? Does it bring me anything new? Who is directing it? What the process is and of course, how people talk to you makes a big difference. Sometimes a lot of people come to you in a very strange way and then you feel I don’t want to be a part of something which has ego. So I avoided those things and I didn’t say, ‘Sorry, can’t get someone else.’

Has saying yes ‘no’ affected your relationship with people in the industry?

You can’t control people’s perceptions, can you? People may not even know you and have a preconceived notion of you. And many times people have told me that ‘You are very polite and very good at talking, you are very funny, we are talking about fear. I said, ‘Friend, what is there to be afraid of? Which Caliph am I? What if there was a Caliph, you can still be a descendant. I have worked with superstars and they were very nice people, very friendly, very humble people. I don’t know what he does in public but he is very nice and very cooperative while working.

Yes, people tell me that we have to think twice before calling you because you are a quick answer man because we have to think twice before offering you anything. ‘There is no quick answer,’ I said. Hardly if anyone is calling because they think yeh nahi karega show, and yes, I didn’t, but at least let’s talk. And I say this with humility. Not everyone is in a position to say no because people have to run their household, pay their bills, but somewhere you have to balance it. Even many established people have done projects for money, I am also a doer, but if that thing is against your integrity, your conscience, they will not do it.

I will be frank, I have acted in Hansal Mehta’s Scoop, the part was not that great but then I discussed with my manager, I have also seen Hansal Mehta’s work, so I thought, ‘Let’s do it’ then see how it goes Is. But if there was any other director, I honestly would not have done it.

Have you had any bad experiences in the industry?

It happens in every industry, you get bad people. But what makes me upset, angry or upset is when someone is not civil. And it really bothers me because complacency doesn’t cost you anything. The second thing is to be respectful of someone else’s time and effort. The biggest problem is that we do contracts in Bollywood, and they always favor the producers. But still, if something goes wrong, you cannot do anything about it, because it is just the ego. They might be at fault, but then you will have to face the consequences.

I make up my mind, I tell them what you have done is wrong and should not have happened. But thank you very much, it’s been great working with you. You may be the biggest name in the industry but I can’t work with you again. And a couple of times, it has happened. If you ask Nawazuddin Siddiqui, he will give you 100 examples. You get thrown out of projects for no fault of yours, your dues don’t get paid, you have to adjust the star’s dates with yours and you have to bear the brunt. So it happens and you can’t help it. But things have improved in the last 10 years, I must also say that things have become a bit more professional.

But again everyone is so much in this bandwagon of content creation, because so many platforms have come up and it’s become so commercialized that again, now we’re losing our way. It is really a numbers game, how many million views and hits, how many followers on Instagram. Because of this whole issue, people are putting together projects instead of films or web series. And this is not an artistic pursuit, so it’s already something like a tradesman project.

So what kind of reforms would you like to bring in the film industry?

Every production house, every artist has to bring that kind of professionalism. First of all, I hope that the contracts will be respected. The second thing is to give respect to the writers, give them enough time and money to develop the script. Good stories are being destroyed because of capricious ideas of production heads or creative heads. Somebody stays with a story and a script for five years and you suddenly come five minutes before an hour and say, ‘Isko badal do, isko yeh kar do, woh kar do, give more time to my star or actor. , then suddenly the script gets compromised.

No one is above the script. Some superstars understand this and some who are not yet are realizing it. This is not a job. The reason why movies are not really working is when you are not being faithful to the script. That’s why everyone says that the script is the mother. But then why are you insulting the mother? Because your own interests come first, how much screen time do I have? What kind of song I’m getting, what kind of angle I’m getting, you know. Give that space to that person, to other actors who are playing different characters and it will work wonders. Look at movies like Raazi, Badhaai Ho, Drishyam 2, where characters are given due importance. People are not doing this, this is the problem.