As someone who has parallel careers in Hindi cinema and Hollywood, actor Ali Fazal believes he hasn’t been “pushed enough” as an artist.
The actor, who is known in India for such movies as Fukrey, Happy Bhag Jayegi, and Bobby Jasoos, as well as the hit Prime Video series Mirzapur and has done Hollywood features such as Furious 7, Victoria & Abdul, and Death on the Nile, said the goal is to be part of great stories.
“Honestly, I haven’t been pushed enough as an actor here (Bollywood), anywhere, even in Hollywood. It is fine, I’m not worried too much because those are teething problems as I am somebody coming from outside. So I will take that much time,” Fazal told PTI in an interview.
“I guess I fall into a weird mix where I have to juggle both sides… I just want to be part of good films. I think we have great stories here. In fact, that is one of the reasons why we have started producing but time becomes an issue,” he said, referring to his production banner Pushing Buttons Studios with actor-wife Richa Chadha.
Fazal, 36, currently stars in Kandahar, a Hollywood action drama, headlined by Scottish star Gerard Butler. The movie released on Prime Video on Friday.
Directed by Ric Roman Waugh of Angel Has Fallen and Greenland fame, the action-thriller draws inspiration from true events from the life of a former military intelligence officer.
In the movie, Fazal plays the role of Kahil, who goes up against Tom Harris (Butler) in a dangerous game of cat and mouse.
Fazal said he was drawn towards the film as it gave him the opportunity to work with Waugh and Butler, known for Hollywood hits “300”, “P.S. I Love You”, “Den of Thieves”, and the “Has Fallen” series.
Though the two actors have just one scene together, Fazal said they bonded over food and movies as well as Butler’s next visit to India.
“We had conversations about films, food, and about India, his next visit to India hopefully… He keeps going to Rishikesh a lot. Hopefully, next time when he comes, I will host him. It is the start of a very good friendship if I can call it that,” Fazal said.
Butler is a very “generous actor”, he added.
“There is only one time in the film when we come face-to-face. In the whole film, I am chasing him. There is this whole cat-and-mouse thing that is going on. We would have common locations and we were staying in the same hotel, so everything was happening according to a routine,” he added.
Having worked with Hollywood bigwigs like Judi Dench in Victoria & Abdul, Butler in Kandahar, and Kenneth Branagh in Death on the Nile, Fazal said he doesn’t get intimidated by his co-actors.
It only helps him in putting his best foot forward, he said.
“I have had some wonderful actors that I have gotten a chance to work with and that only enhances my performance. Maybe you can call me a little selfish. I enjoy when co-actors have a very strong hold on their craft, and have a great presence because then my job becomes easy. They make you look good.”
Post Kandahar, Fazal has two projects — Khufiya with filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj, and Anurag Basu’s Metro… In Dino.
Working with Bhardwaj was a rewarding experience, he said.
“With Vishal ji, I experienced that he really pushed me. Every actor, we have a scene, thinking of something that we would do but when a director has a different perspective, it surprises you, it throws you into an uncomfortable zone. That’s where the magic happens. He has a fresh perspective,” he added.
Fazal said Basu was “phenomenal” and a totally different kind of director.
“I am excited. We haven’t shot the whole thing yet, there is still stuff to shoot,” he added.
The actor is equally thrilled to be working on his forthcoming international film Afghan Dreamers, being helmed by Oscar-winning director Bill Guttentag.
The movie presents the true story of a program that was started by Afghan tech entrepreneur Roya Mahboob in 2017 as a way to help young women develop their skills in the field of science and technology, despite a heavily patriarchal society.
“It was the biggest thing that happened recently. It is based on a true story about a women’s robotics team. I play one of their mentors. Phoebe Waller-Bridge has also joined the cast, so it is exciting,” Fazal said.