Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Aim of an actor is not to entertain but to enlighten & enrich”

I am an actor by accident, producer by compulsion and director by choice," says the multi-faceted Amol Palekar, who was in city to inaugurate the National Theatre Festival 'Bahuroopi' at Rangayana on Apr. 6. A native of Mumbai, Amol Palekar is a product of JJ School of Arts. He made his debut in the Marathi film 'Shantala! Court Chalu Aahe' by Satyadev Dubey and started his own theatre group 'Aniket' in 1972.
He won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in English (2006) for Quest, National Award for Best Film on Family Welfare (2001) for Dhyaas Parva and Filmfare Best Actor Award (1980) for Golmaal. He is best known for his roles in Rajnigandha, Chitchor, Golmaal among many others.
This was not his first visit to city with his previous visit to CAVA a few years back. During his recent visit, Amol Palekar also promised to direct a play for Rangayana in the days to come. We had a brief interaction with him after the function. Read on…

How did the transition from painter to cinema happen?
Amol Palekar (AP): That is a very old story I have left behind me. All I can say is that it was a welcome accident and it changed the course of my life.

We have seen your Golmaal and the Golmaal(s) of today. While yours was a uniquely hilarious and silent yet effective, those of today are not very appealing. Why do you think there is such a big transition?
AP:Only the title of the movie is borrowed. In today’s era of remakes and remixes, cinema has nothing original and interesting to offer. The transition is because today’s generation demands it and they will have to answer the question. And for those who like the movies of the good old days, they will have to demand for it.

Do you think cinemas will go back to the ones made during your times?
AP: I don’t think so. As time progresses, we have to go ahead. We should look forward. That is what I believe in.

Is there any particular message you want to convey through your movies? You said ‘The aim of an actor is not to entertain but to enlighten and enrich.’ What is that enlightenment?
AP: Messages are given by politicians and not artistes! Even though you know so many things, there will be something which will make you sit up and say 'Oh my God, I didn't know this' and that changes the meaning of your life. That is enlightenment. That is when you feel you have understood the meaning of life better.
Through my works if I am able to give you that kind of awareness (enlightenment is too big a word for it) which will help you to understand life, or just one little layer of life, slightly better, there is no greater pleasure. Such enlightening can also be entertaining in its own way. It need not be boring, grim and studious. But this whole concept of — you have to be "entertained" — makes no meaning to me. If the present generation wants to be 'entertained' that way, I beg to differ.

Who do you prefer – Amol Palekar the actor, director or the artist?
AP: This reminds me of an old story – seven blind men met an elephant. Each said 'I know what the elephant is.' One said the trunk is the elephant, other said the tusk, other tail, etc. Similarly, how can there be one Amol Palekar? There are so many aspects to him, every aspect is different, and hopefully equally interesting. All of them combined make me complete and I love each and every aspect which is creative, not succumbing to commercial pressure and which is not mainstream. When you see my film, you should feel it is something different and unique and say ‘Oh! I love this.’ As long as I am able to achieve something in painting, acting or directing (or maybe tomorrow I will try something else) by being different, I will love it.

What is your ultimate goal? The point where you feel 'This is what I always wanted to do…'
AP: I always wanted to be creative and have been able to do so. To retain that work consistently for so many years itself is a fulfilling and overwhelming feeling. I started my career way back in 1967. For all these years, being able to work with the same passion and belief and with people responding "This is nice... we applaud you for that... we love you for that," is a great achievement.

Which work of yours do you consider as a masterpiece?
AP: That is something you should judge and decide. As for me, I feel very proud that there is not a single work which I am ashamed of. Most of the time, people give excuses stating some problems and compulsions for their work. But I don’t have to give any such excuses for any of my work. I am completely satisfied.

We know Amol Palekar the artist, actor and director. But personally who is he?
AP: Amol Palekar is a person who loves life, who loves people, who cares for his close ones and who will go miles to experience a beautiful creative moment. I love the satisfaction creative moments bring. Those moments make my life richer, more meaningful and worth living.

How better can theatre be promoted?
AP: People have to feel the urge. That belief will show them the way. Theatre has managed to survive for so long. With the advent of cinema, theatre collapsed. Still it survived. And later, with the advent of TV, both cinema and theatre collapsed. TV entered your bedroom. Hence, no one made an effort to go watch cinema. But both survived again. Also, people who practice theatre need to know why are they doing theatre, what is it that gives them the satisfaction, the kick, and the inevitability of why they are doing theatre and not something else? Once you have an answer for all this and find your strength, you will know how to exploit it.

(Published in Star Of Mysore dated April 9, 2011)


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