Dubai: For someone who was reluctant to leave the world of theatre to work in movies, actor Adil Hussain has come a long way, steadily making space for himself in Indian cinema as well as crossover films. Besides starring in Hindi films such as 'Ishqiya', 'Agent Vinod' and 'English Vinglish', he has made his mark with international projects like Ang Lee's 'Life of Pi' and Mira Nair's 'Reluctant Fundamentalist', which releases in India next year.
The 49-year-old actor, who walked the red carpet for 'Pi' at the opening of Dubai International Film Festival, says his only criteria is good scripts, which are sometimes hard to come by.
"I am not struggling but I am not established either in Bollywood. If anyone calls me and I like the script, I do it. Otherwise, I am happy living in Delhi. It is a conscious decision to not move to Mumbai. For 'Ishqiya' they found me in
Delhi. I liked the script and decided to do the film," Adil told PTI.
In an industry ruled, not often by talent, but by the star system, Adil admits that he was apprehensive about making a career in cinema but things are changing for him.
"Unfortunately, there is not that much emphasis on the script or talent in our industry. It is the star system that dominates. Some stars are very good actors but not all of them. One has to cope with the system because it is established and I don't think it is bad, but in the process a lot of good actors don't get a chance and they become disheartened.
"This is why I did not go to Mumbai...I thought, I can't go and beg for roles. I am old and I was happy doing theatre here. I also had some apprehension when I started working with stars but Vidya Balan, Tabu and Sridevi turned out to be fantastic people. My perception about the stars is changing.
They may be difficult to get along with but the stars I have worked with were really nice people," he said.
Though a brief role, Adil says he was excited to work with the Oscar-winning director of 'Pi'. He plays the lead character's father with Tabu as his onscreen wife. The actor said he had a very interesting meeting with Lee during audition for the part of Pi's zoo-keeper father in the film.
"It was great. Ang Lee is so humble and that was the first thing that struck me. He is like a child in a very beautiful way. He looks at the world very
differently than I do. He has an amazing ability to see through what is inside you. For the audition, he just held my face and looked into my eyes and said 'ok' and I was in the movie," said Adil.
Talking about his role in Nair's film, again a book adaptation, Adil said he plays a small role but the film gave him a chance to meet Nair after almost 20 years.
"It is a very small role but an important one. I am playing the Al Qaeda cell leader in the movie. I know Mira Nair since 1991. She auditioned me to play her Buddha but that film got shelved. After that we met for the first time for this film."
Between all this, Adil says he has finished two movies. One is about the life of a great saint of the 12th century while the other is an Assamese film.
"The Assamese film is called 'Shrink Hole'. It is by Probin Hazarika. It is a beautiful story about a village cloth seller who sells clothes on one village. He falls in love with a girl who gets married to his friend, who dies. The cloth
seller's struggle in the entire movie is to tell her that he loves her."
"I am also doing a film called 'Blemished Light'. Then I'll be shooting for a film called 'Feast of Varanasi'. Another film is called 'Sunrise'. These are co-productions."
A National School of Drama (NSD) graduate, theatre is always the first love of Adil as he continues to devote time to theatre.
"My theatre work has taken a little back seat but I am doing theatre. I just performed in Pondicherry. I am doing a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna and I am loving it. We are going to keep doing it for a long time till it becomes a full fledged performance."