“It was like a huge party on a boat” – Entertainment News, Firstpost

Ali Fazal talks about working in the west, discussions about colorblind casting and future projects including Khufiya by Vishal Bhardwaj

With one foot in India and the other in the West, Ali Fazal says he is loyal to both sides. He enjoys what he calls the “democratic” journey in cinema. Fazal’s most memorable role in Bollywood among the dozens of features he has appeared in remains his supporting role in Rajkumar Hiranis 3 idiots (2009), the actor is making rapid progress in Hollywood, albeit without a planned strategy. After starring in one of the title roles in the British-American biographical comedy Victoria and Abdul In addition to screen icon Judi Dench, the actor is up next for the film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s 1937 crime novel. Death on the Niledirected by Kenneth Branagh.

“Playing one of Agatha Christie’s characters is iconic. I never thought it would happen. It’s going into the books and I’m very happy to be a part of it for the rest of my days. We were like a unit traveling from hotel to set and even throughout the film we were all together all the time. It was of course like a huge party on a boat, often the boat would be stuck in the studio and wouldn’t move (laughs heartily), but nonetheless the environment created was very posh. This adaptation is from the novel which was published in the 1930’s so dress well, look well, we were surrounded by great technicians and one of the best in the business. We had one of my favorite cinematographers, Haris (Zambarloukos) film this and it had most of the leads like Gal Gadot, Annette Bening, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and actor/director Kenneth. It was a lot of stuff for me to turn my head around; it was a great learning experience,” says Fazal.

Death on the Nile is Branagh’s sequel to his 2017 blockbuster The Murder on the Orient Express, which was also based on the author’s book of the same name. Branagh, who also reprises his role as legendary detective Hercule Poirot in the follow-up, had gushed about working with Fazal, calling him a “real detail man” in an interview last year. “I had a lot of sessions with Kenneth months before we started filming because the costumes are very important to me. I kept talking about costumes but he said we have to commit to our look, hair, eyes, just the physical stuff and the way he’s going to speak,” says the actor.

Fazal plays one of the suspects in the film and a British character named Andrew Katchadourian, a cousin of Gadot’s Linnet Ridgeway-Doyle. “Mine is a very English character, I need to speak Queen’s English which needs to be very clear and correct. Then we went into his backstory, my relationship with Gal’s character, we grew up together. I ended up becoming a lawyer, her accountant, pretty much her confidant. It was very interesting to put this dynamic on paper and then we started exploring. And I feed off a lot of my co-actors, my director, sometimes I find myself a bit like a cheat…(laughs). I observe and take away something from everyone. During filming, every person I interact with has something stolen unknowingly (laughs),” the actor reveals.

While the story is primarily written with white characters, the film is portrayed by a variety of black actors, who Fazal says don’t preach too much about the ethnic groups they belong to. “We didn’t want that because it’s an Agatha Christie book that’s already been made into a movie, so don’t stray too far from that. It was nice that we were already celebrating with such a diverse cast, so everyone had a consistent approach to playing those roles,” he says.

As there has been much discussion about color-blind casting and the need for representation and inclusion of South Asians in Hollywood and international cinema, the actor says, “Blind casting, diversification is a big step forward, but at the same time, it’s also important.” to acknowledge ourselves for who we are and what we can bring to the table. Any number of films fit in blind casting, but what happens? There are films that are tailor-made for different ethnic groups all over the world. We have Southeast Asian superheroes coming out, then you have Mrs. MarveI come in and Farhan Akhtar, Fawad Khan are all there.”

Ali Fazal on his role in the star-studded Death On The Nile It was like a huge party on a boat

Fazal, who has repeatedly said he doesn’t want to give up on India just yet, continues: “We definitely get a bigger piece of the pie. It’s not very far, only of course it takes time because we have our own film industry which is also a part of the Indian film industry and we have to recognize that. I’m still looking for even Malayalam films, I’m willing to spend six months learning the language because some amazing stuff comes from there. That’s also the reason why a part of me is keeping me here and doesn’t want to move to the west so quickly. One day I might have to, who knows?”

On the personal front, Fazal is in a happy living environment; He has been in a relationship with Richa Chadha for a long time. “The wedding is coming up but we want to take our time and we’re very happy the way we are,” he says. Professionally, 2021 has been a good year for Fazal, both in Hollywood and at home, including signing and filming his next Hollywood project – Kandahar starring Gerard Butler – and as part of Vishal Bharadwaj’s spy thriller Khufiya. There is also an untitled film by Aarti Kadav and the third part of the Fukrey Franchise. “I shot half Khufiyathen we took a break so I could finish Kandahar. It’s an adrenaline-pumping, action-packed film that also has an interesting narrative. Gerard is a whole different energy and a very interesting person more than an actor. I have to spend a lot of time with him off set. It’s a relationship I will cherish for a long time. I’m waiting for us to meet again as soon as the film is finished,” says Fazal.

“Khufiya is very close to my heart. For Vishal Sir, I’m willing to take even a passing shot in his film. He called to ask if I was free and I told him I will free myself for him whenever he needs me. It’s every actor’s dream to be a part of their film. I’ve always wanted to work with someone of his caliber. It’s an interesting story and for once it’s not Shakespeare, not that I’ve complained as I’m a Shakespeare fan. It’s based on true events and there’s Taboo, me and Wamiqa (Gabbi)…we have a great cast of actors. There’s probably a phase for these kinds of stories, but I’m craving a love story. When was the last time we saw a straight love story with no twist? It could just be a conversation. But I can’t be someone who can choose my projects yet, I’m not in that position but I hope something will come my way,” he adds.

Last year, Fazal and Chadha announced their own production house, Pushing Buttons Studio. Your first film will be Girls will be girls, directed by Brooklyn-based filmmaker Shuchi Talati. “We want to take one step at a time. We’re halfway through this step. Our first production is Indo-French, we have one of the best writers and she directs herself. Most of the time it will be an all-girls team and Richa and I don’t play in it. We wanted to create a space where artists could come and go freely.”

Getting back to Christie’s mystery, the film, which was shot in the UK and on location in Morocco, is coming to cinemas around the world after a delay due to the pandemic. “It’s been a while… we shot sometime in late 2019, but I’m excited. Considering the times we live in, we have a lot of hassle. So I’m glad we had this little delay,” says Fazal. Commenting on the endless conversations about the end of cinemas with the advent of streaming platforms, Fazal says: “Silver screens will always be new and exciting and it should be, because that’s how cinema began. Someone put it so beautifully that a movie is done when the community is watching. When people gather in a hall and the first projector opens the film that we shouldn’t lose. I know we all live in our little algorithms, our little houses, and the comforts of our drawing rooms, but we grew up making plans every Friday. You watch it in the cinema with people and maybe strangers… I’d rather do it with strangers in a theater than strangers on Twitter,” he laughs.

Asked if the concept of star value has become a bit sketchy given the post-pandemic closure of theaters in light of new films being released digitally, Fazal says, “Well the perception is going to change, who would have thought OTT was going to change the game.” . I did not know it Mirzapur will turn into a mammoth thing that started acting bigger than movies, which suddenly makes you realize that you can’t just let this star ego take you all the way; you have to be smart. Isn’t that cool? We all look up to this star system…but I don’t know what that system is. But some people are stars and they will always be stars and that’s okay. I love watching my Shah Rukh Khan, Salman and Aamir films. They are stars and always will be. Dilip (Kumar) Saab will always be a star. I am looking Mughal-e-Azam before every film I start,” he signs.

Seema Sinha is a mainstream entertainment journalist from Mumbai who has been covering Bollywood and the television industry for over two decades. Her strengths are candid interviews, news coverage and newsbreaks, investigative journalism and more. She believes in dismissing gossip, nonchalance, frivolity and clichés.

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