In Bollywood very rarely you come across an actor who doesn’t believe in being diplomatic and is brutally honest when it comes to talking about the problems (apart from nepotism) that the industry in facing right now. Power-house performer Zeeshan Ayyub is one of those rare actors who call a spade a spade. But he neither indulges in blame game nor excludes himself from the part of these prevalent problems of the industry.
In an exclusive interview with Glamsham, Zeeshan talks about his upcoming film THUGS OF HINDOSTAN and also doesn’t shy away from talking about the failure of his last film TUBELIGHT. The actor without mincing his words speaks his heart out about how the industry doesnt give attention to writing.
First of all tell us about your role in your upcoming films THUGS OF HINDOSTAN and AIYAARY
Many people have asked me about this but let me clarify one thing that I am not a part of AIYAARY, but yes I am definitely playing an important part in Vijay Krishna Acharya’s THUGS OF HINDOSTAN (TOH). There is a curiosity surrounding TOH and if I reveal anything about my character right now, then it will be a spoiler as it will reveal about the film and so far nobody has any
idea what this film is all about.
What is the best part of being an actor?
I guess it’s the continuous change of moods, emotions not only on screen but off screen as well and for an actor like me the best and the most important part is the therapeutic process that acting makes you go through. That cathartic process is something I relish the most.
What is the worst part of being in this profession?
The worst part of being in this glamourized industry is that it’s becoming more and more commercial with each day. People these days judge a film’s worth on the basis of the business it has done and not it’s content. This somewhere limits the scope as an actor for you to explore more. For actor like me generally where I am standing right now it’s more about the fight, as you have to debate and convince the director & writer that no this character shouldn’t be done the way I did in some other film as every character is different and comes from different background. Commercialization and getting type-caste are the worst part of being in this profession and also it’s very sad that you have to fight to do something new from what you have done in your last film.
So, given a chance what would be the two things that you would like to change in Bollywood?
There are many things actually (laughs). Firstly, these days everyone (filmmakers) is trying to play safe which is not good as we need to start experimenting and be bold enough to take up new concepts and make something original. After every five years we are just changing the pattern aur shor mach jata hai ki hamara cinema change ho raha hai, but my question is if our cinema is changing in every five years then why hasn’t it changed yet? Actually we are just changing the formulas and nothing else. If one film is a success then every other filmmaker will go on similar lines until someone takes up the courage to bring something new on the table. This pattern is such a sad thing.
To be honest even I have been part of this pattern but that doesn’t mean I support it. My film RAANJHANAA was refreshing change as it had new settings, a small town love story but now every second film has similar settings and plots. We need to end this. I know money is important but we need to stop measuring every film’s importance on the basis of the business it has done. Obviously if a film is making 200-300 crores then it proves that the audience has liked it but measuring art with commerce is devious. All I am suggesting is that there should be a good marriage between these two and not comparisons between them.
Please go on…
The other problem is that people perceive low budget films as independent films whereas Indie film is something that a person makes without any proper resources. Earlier such films used to get appreciated, there used to be Indie Film Festival as well but now-a-days nobody is really making an independent film thinking that there’s no future to it because independent film ke naam pe toh ek bade actor ya director ki kam budget ki film bikti hai. Independent cinema is not just important for our country but for the entire world as Indie cinema is something that thinks forward. Because if you read interviews of any international actor/directors, they all have this common thing to say that things will change when somebody from some mountain may be in Alaska or may be a little girl from African jungle will pick up a handy cam or a mobile cam and make a film that will change the growth of films forever.
We have always witnessed that when new person steps in he captures his atmosphere with new vision and gives the film a new path. If you see the festival film category then they have some fixed actors so what is the point of independent films if they’re also working with big stars? These days even short films are becoming popular because of the big stars featuring in it. All these things are not right and even I am a part of this, I am not excluding myself from this perhaps I will have to change myself first before pointing fingers at others and should keep in mind that sirf meri wajah se hi film chal rahi hai should not be the point.
Are you happy with the kind of roles that are coming your way?
Definitely, I am not happy and neither it’s like I am unhappy because at the end of the day whatever the circumstances might have been it was me who chose to do those characters Ab jo bhi film maine sign ki ab woh kissi ne bandook rakh ke to sign nahi karwayi thi. So there’s no point in blaming others. Also in our industry, we don’t give attention to writing. I have always believed that if writing is good then an actor can take off from there itself. If the character is not strongly written then an actor cannot do anything. I am facing this now after coming in this ‘Hero’s friend’ category as most of these characters are only cracking jokes and are not helping in taking the story forward. Writing is the main problem behind this as in our industry they don’t get desired respect. Most of the writers say that bhai writer banne me kuch nahi rakha director hi ban jao as neither do they get money nor respect. Because of poor quality of writing you cannot get a well-defined character, so it’s disappointing. But again I will say that I cannot put the entire blame on the industry because I have made my own choices.
Now that you have mentioned that our writers are not paid respect, can you share your views on this aspect of Bollywood?
There are times when people are hired because of favoritism. There is a section of writers, who are neither trained nor experts but they are anyways hired and they eventually refurbish an already known story and present it in a slight new way. If you have noticed these days we have this pattern that there should be a lot of comic elements in the films. I don’t know from where such trends originate but they do exist.
People here say that we should be making something like ‘Game of Thrones’ and I can clearly tell you that we cannot make a grand show like that and the main reason being the budget, as we don’t have that kind of recovery sources. So it’s a common sense if one cannot recover the money then why would anyone invest? Few days back I saw ‘Breaking Bad’ and after watching that I was more disappointed, because if you have seen ‘Breaking Bad’ then in mere 10-12 locations thy have wrapped up the entire 6 series. Most of the shooting is within four walls and the entire focus is on the characters, their relationships, their conversation, and their complexes that’s it. Their writing is so terrific that they don’t need lavish budget to grab the attention of the audience. This is somewhere down the line shows that our writers are lazy and that’s why we aren’t able to produce something like these shows. So you see budget is not the only issue when it comes to making a good project.
Is there any particular kind of role that you wish to play in future?
I am looking forward to do that I haven’t done before. I want to explore myself more after my next few films I will be more open and perhaps take up a project only when I am totally happy with the character or may be do only 1-2 films in a year that way at least I will be able to promise audience of giving them something new with each of my films and live up to their expectations.
What do you have to say about the recent trend of going all out to promote a film rather than focusing on the script?
This PRship is another blow to creativity. Many of the films are working on these PRship.PR agency se hi actors nikal rahe hai aur acting ki definition bhi usse ban rahi hai. This is the scariest part of this industry. They bombard you continuously that a particular film is very good, so much so, that many a times even after not liking a specific film people don’t voice their opinion fearing that if they opine then perhaps others will say that they don’t understand art or call them cynical. The PR machinery has taken over this industry. I don’t have problem if someone’s business is flourishing but if they start changing the definition of art through PR machinery then it’s a very terrible thing. I won’t take names but I have read interviews of many actresses/ actors who come from modelling background saying “It’s not like people in this industry get work on the basis of their looks! look at me I have got work because of my acting capabilities.” Ab isse bada jhooth kuch nahi ho sakta (laughs) so you see how PR machinery project their clients. There are many people who ask me to get a PR agency to represent me but when I saw the scam behind this machinery then I made it clear that no I don’t want to be a part of this scam. So all I do is do my job seriously and let people decide whether they like it or not.
Also there is this funny thing that before a film is about to release stories like this actor has gained or lost weight for this role starts floating, my point is that ideally when you are working as an actor then you should play a character people should believe in easily. So, naturally my looks should be convincing enough but then how can someone boast on this very point that they have lost or gained weight for a specific role? I mean that is a part of your job, it’s your homework and not something unusual that you are doing for your role. People here are more interested in talking about their looks rather than talking about acting.
Despite having a stellar star cast on board, TUBELIGHT still bit the dust at the box office. Any idea what went wrong with it?
Honestly, speaking I still haven’t seen the film. When the film had released I was in Malta so I didn’t get a chance to watch the film but still I will speak in the support of the film because I signed that film as I liked the script so I have no guilt about that and if you look at the film from artistic point of view and not commercial aspect, Salman Khan tried something different from what he has done before. Now how did that turned on screen I don’t know because I haven’t seen it but the commendable thing is that at least he tried something new and we should acknowledge it. Even Kabir could have made similar kind of film which he made with Salman earlier but he wanted to say something new and make a political comment which other people refrain from doing. So he took a stand and showed the courage of making a comment when the entire nation was opining of let’s go on a war thinking that it will provide solution to all the problems but Kabir took a stand that no war is not something to look forward to. He showed how a soldier’s family suffers when he goes on war. So war is not a glorified thing and even if this film didn’t work but anyone who makes a film on such topic then I will go and stand with them.
If not an actor what else you would have been?
I don’t know (laughs) I had thought of various career but decided to go ahead with one i.e. acting(smiles) I recently read a very good answer of this question given by Naseeruddin sir, he said “If not an actor then I would have been a failed actor.” So if not an actor I would have been pretty much in the same industry doing some odd jobs like working back stage or doing the lightings. I really enjoy being in this field so maybe I would have been an AD or a director perhaps but it would have been something connected to this industry only.
From the current lot of actors which actor inspires you the most?
I would say Manoj Bajpayee inspires me a lot.
In one of his recent interviews Manoj Bajpayee said that Bollywood doesn’t appreciate talent when they are alive. Do you agree with him?
Of course I completely agree with him because deserving actors don’t get appreciated and are randomly given a role here and there, in short if you use good actors like stepney then it’s a very shameful thing. Many a times you see studios have this tendency that if they find a good looking actor then they indulge them, make them undergo 4-5 months acting workshop ab chaar mahine me thode hi koi actor ban jata hai? Aur woh ultimately kuch nahi kar paate. But instead of doing that why don’t they pick someone who has average looks but is a good actor. They can groom him physically, give him a good hairstyle, cloths and make up then even he will start looking good. This process is much easier than doing it the other way round. So yeah good actors are not given the place they deserve. And when one such a good actor dies then people give such reactions as if they loved them all their life. Nobody cares about the problem such great artists go through when they are alive but after their death awards are dedicated or even named after them. This is so sad.
Any one from the industry whom you consider to be your role model?
To be very honest I don’t believe in role models because I believe every person has their own strength and weakness so I don’t think there is any human in this world to be a role model. Even my father used to tell me that don’t make me your role model your idea should be learn the good things and always go for more. Because if you stop yourself from going for more then there is no excitement left in your journey, so just keep exploring. I don’t believe in the idea of having a role model.
And do you agree that nepotism is prevalent in this industry?
Talent in this industry is not just suffering because of nepotism there are plenty of other things too. At the same time great actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Dilip Kumar, or Shah Rukh Khan are not product of nepotism. But it’s equally true that the struggle of an outsider cannot be compared with the one of the star kids. A star kid gets multiple chances to establish themselves whereas an outsider despite giving hits back to back has to prove himself again if one of his films flops. So yeah nepotism is a threat but I will repeat that it’s not the only problem that we are facing right now.