Adil Hussain: Renaissance Man!

Adil Hussain is perhaps one of the most underrated actors, with two national awards under his belt now, here’s hoping there is no stopping him anymore, says Shubarna Mukerji Shu

It is fact that Adil Hussain started acting a little too late in his life having been a teacher at National School of Drama, but his fans are thankful that he took the plunge. He has been his mark with every role, however small it maybe, he has played till now. And the two national awards for Mukti Bhawan and Maj Rati Keteki (Assamese) in the very same year, prove that Hussain is here to stay. Excerpts from the interview.

It has been a fabulous year, hasn’t it? Two national awards in your kitty after the long wait!
It has been a while but there is time for everything. I am 53 now, and to get an award now was really nice. That too the highest honour for an actor in India, it is very inspiring. I am glad that everything that I was working towards is being recognised. Makes you believe you have been doing the right thing all along.

It was a little surprising to see you in a film like Dobara though…
I must admit when I was first told that it is a horror film, I refused it because in our film industry this genre hasn’t been able to get its due. Having said that, I must say I liked the way Dobara was executed. There is no denying that the film did justice to Oculus the film it was adapted from. All the years that I have been part of the industry, I have always tried to do something different, enjoy the experience. It was very difficult film to be a part of and it took a lot out of me to sleep at nights after doing Dobara.

Horror films scare you?
No! It was the role that scared me. My son in the film is called Kabir and my son too is Kabir. To get into my character and the kind of equation that I share with my onscreen child was very disturbing and difficult. I couldn’t dream of doing these things to my child but I am from the school of acting that makes you become the character, however, momentarily!

Getting into the character has cause a lot of problems for actors all over the world. How does your family react to your dedication?
Sometimes they laugh, sometimes they worry. I told you earlier on that getting an award at the age of 53 told me I was doing the right thing somewhere; I think that also gave my family a bit of reassurance. They worry for me, they think I could be mad taking every role so seriously but I don’t know any other way. I cannot do jhoota-mootha acting.  When I was doing Mukti Bhawan I read deeply into death, the various theories about it. Near death experiences and so on, it plays on the mind and eventually helps your craft but it didn’t amuse my family.

Mukti Bhawan was a well appreciated film, but did you ever feel like you were gambling when it comes to putting your trust into someone so young?
I think that was the beauty of it, because Shubhashish Bhutiani is so young, getting into the space of work with someone from almost a different generation is so interesting. It widens your horizons for sure. Not only because the film has done well, but even otherwise, has it always been my pleasure to work with the younger lot of directors.

Does it come from the fact that you have been teaching at NSD for so long?
Perhaps, it is something I love doing. I would really love to go back to it someday, if they pay me well (laughs).

Money is a bane for the creative guys isn’t it?
It is, I am someone who doesn’t really move around the Bollywood circles yet there are times when I hear people saying that such and such film has paid Rs 20 crore for promotions. I do films with a budget of Rs 2-3 crores, they might be good films but they will never reach out to the small towns because spending Rs 20 crores on promotions isn’t their cup of tea. So yes, money is a bane and I really hope, someday the systems will be in place and we will be able to reach out to a wider audience despite our limited budgets.

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