Q: You've a very unusual release coming up?
A: I loved Being Cyrus. Speaking honestly…whether it's Vishal Bharadwaj's Omkara or Homi Adajania's Being Cyrus , I feel I've gone to a different level as an actor. I may be a little unsure at the beginning of a project.
But instinctively I think I'm getting it right. Being Cyrus is my first English-language film. It's a different kind of cinema. It's a quality film. It should be evaluated in its own space. It's a quirky dark indefinable cinema. I'm quite proud of it.Q: People are interested in Being Cyrus primarily because you're in it?
A: Shit! That sounds like a huge burden to carry around. I must warn people Being Cyrus not my regular kind of movie. I've done what I was expected to. If they expect me to do comedy and sing songs like in Salaam Namaste or Hum Tum then they'd be disappointed.
I'll be seen without my shirt, though, ha ha. It's a bit of a noire thriller. I say 'bit', because it only took twenty of my shooting days. It's a good little story. And cinematographer Jehenagir Chowdhary has shot it amazingly.Q: Did it allow you to stretch yourself as an actor?
A: It did, actually. Homi was very insistent on me not being at all posed or filmy.Q: Homi is also a scuba driver.
A: He's a lot of things. He wants to show a lot on his cv I think. I thought he'd be a laidback rugby-playing, beer-drinking kind of guys. But I was quite surprised by his dedication and sincerity as a director. Q: Did you hit it off instantly?
A: No initially he used to irk me somehow, giving instructions like, 'Don't stand like some Bollywood star'. I finally told him this film would get released only in Mumbai gym. That's when the ice broke. We laughed and laughed together. Homi gave me back something that I had lost. He gave me back my sense of humour.
We laughed the way only men do at some jokes. I had a blast with him. I remember I once bent down near him because I had dropped my cigarette. He quipped, 'My God, you aren't touching my feet, are you?' Homi is like that. Q: Did this film come at a time when you were grappling for the correct grammar of expression?
A: Not really. I remember I was sitting at Nataraj studio when Homi came to narrate the script. At that time my first thought was, it would be fun to do a film in a language in which I think. At the same time I also wanted to be part of Being Cyrus because it sounded like an interesting and brave effort. I realized there was no money in it.Q: Is money a decisive factors for selection?
A: It is certainly one of the factors. Why not? I've seen enough actors trying to live on commitment. It doesn't work. Often actors waste their time doing films that have no impact. There was no money in Being Cyrus.
But I was impressed by the production. I think today after doing films like Being Cyrus and Omkara I'd do movies just because I felt they're right. These films allow you to call yourself an actor.Q: About doing a film in a language that you think in…
A: See even if it's Hindi I still learn quickly. But obviously English which I speak in real life requires a body language that I understand. Fortunately Homi didn't want me to speak an accented Parsi English. I spoke it my own way, maybe with a little exaggerated desi accent. Q: Being Cyrus takes Indian cinema away from the formula.
A: Yes, it's an entirely new idiom of expression. Because of the multiplexes directors have more of an opportunity to do things like Being Cyrus. There're lots of fine actors around who don't get seen enough, for example Konkona Sen whom I'm working with in Omkara. She's fantastic. It's great if actors work in films they believe in and get seen by enough people. Q: Being Cyrus is your first off-mainstream film.
A: Yeah yeah….I've been offered quite a lot of offbeat films. I know in three minutes if I want to do a film or not. Some of these directors keep asking me even after I say no. The reputation of being indecisive about selecting roles is a good thing if it keeps away those whom I've said no to. But it doesn't. Q: Now you've the guts to do the unconventional.
A: I think Omkara and Being Cyrus are as different from each other as they're different from conventional cinema. Even Salaam Namaste wasn't conventional, though it was mainstream because it was a Yashraj production. Q: In Being Cyrus You get to share screen space with some very accomplished actors.
A: That was one of the things that attracted me to this project. Boman Irani is a Parsi. I've always got along well with Boman. In fact I started doing a different kind of acting in an unusual cinema when I did Darna Manaa Hai with Boman. We were left to our devices. We enjoyed that piece together.
During Being Cyrus Homi made up these stories about what Homi had to say about me behind my back. I didn't speak to Boman for a whole day. Finally Homi owned up he was just kidding. That's Homi for you.Q: You share quite a relationship with the gorgeous Dimple in Being Cyrus.
A: Yes. She plays this ambitious woman who's married to a loser. She's sexually attracted to a man who comes to work in their home. In an American movie it'd be no big deal.Q: But in an Indian film?
A: Being Cyrus isn't an Indian film. It's a Parsi film, ha ha. Just joking.