Adil Hussain is known as an intense actor but that has its perks and downfalls. There are dangers of being typecast, but it comes with a different form of richness, mainly when you are involved in a creative process of acting, where you have to attach and detach yourself from a character in a film. During an exclusive conversation with International Business Times, the actor talked about his latest journey in Amazon Prime Video's The Illegal.
How were you approached for this film The Illegal?
I guess it is very close to my heart, because of the kind of family I grew up with, and in a lower-middle-class family, small town, the economical, emotional struggle, of my father not being able to provide for us properly, but he made sure that we are educated so this is very similar to the character of my father, whom I have seen closely and have experienced his pain, though I didn't agree with a lot of things he did at the time now I can empathise with him because I'm a dad too. The Illegal is a film where the role of my dad played a very important part, I guess which would be probably identified by a lot of people who would watch this film.
So what is it that your father did, which you wouldn't ever do with Kabir (son)?
Mostly, I would say, that he had a dream for me. Like The Illegal, he had a dream and I allowed him to go for it. Umm, my father did not agree with my dream because he thought economically it is not viable that I want to be an actor he thought that actors are from all affluent families. This is true in so many ways. Also, Bombay was so far away in those days and we can't afford to be there.
You were growing up in?
Assam, in a small little town.
So in The Illegal, the father goes through similar situations, without the strictness or the sort of rigidity that my father would have, so in The Illegal, the dad played by me understands that it will be difficult but probably he had the courage to let go of his son.
Well, can you tell me something more about your character from The Illegal?
That's what I just spoke of, it is of a person, who has the courage and the guts to allow his son to let go to another part of the world, saat samundar tera nadi, (across the seven seas and thirteen rivers) to let go of his son where there is the opposite time difference. So to take the pain, so it is also an archetypal character because quite a lot of parents would immediately identify with this father and to be able to play it with credibility is a job of an actor. It is unique, personal and impersonal at the same time. So that is the beauty of writing of situations and predicaments of the film. A film becomes a good film when people identify with the situation as well. I was shooting in New Delhi.
Was shooting problematic?
Not at all, we shot very comfortably in purani Delhi, and it was fun to shoot in purani Delhi, it is the opposite of problematic, we had great fun there. I find it very fascinating because the place is so real and without thrills. The basics are there, no floury things, it sort of grounds you into the role and helps you to smell it. The smell of purani Delhi, the sound of purani Delhi, it just makes it so real. It is so inspiring to shoot in places like that.
What did you take from this film?
I guess reliving your personal experiences gives immense courage to empathise with your families. It makes you feel, whatever you have done it is a great job, we generally don't recognise that as sons or daughters when we grow up how much sacrifice the parents made. This I took away home. We don't see the emotional pain which the father goes through because they are not supposed to share their emotions. In a typical Indian, male world men are not supposed to show emotions, so that's a great gift for an actor to be able to experience it and understand it and to intellectually understand it.
Do you think of late the roles of the fathers are changing? He is no longer the tough guy. He is also an emotional man. Do you think the roles are changing in India?
I think it is a revolutionary process as a society that we go through. More and more the idea of the man or the idea of the female figures are slowly coming closer. Each and every male have feminine energy or the female have male energy. I think it is really trending that men are not shy to show their emotions and writers who observe life closely they are also visionaries in quite a lot of writers who would like to inspire men or women to stand up for themselves to show emotions and understand the equality between men and women and especially in that regard we need to do a lot of work. To inspire men to recognise this equality which I hope happens sooner than later.
Just a few minutes earlier you were talking about the project being personal as well as impersonal. So while you were so emotionally involved in The Illegal, how did you find a way to detach yourself from the film?
I think that is what one learns as one keeps doing the project, different kinds of roles. I have been one of the lucky actors, sometimes through the dangers of being typecast as an intense actor which is not a good thing but at the same time the richness that comes from playing an emotionally intense role that one has to learn how to find a road map to come out of it and that is the matter of craft and I don't think I will be able to articulate it in a way. It needs a larger discussion, one can write a book on it that one has to be in a place of mutuality to visit those spaces which is within oneself and then you come back to the neutrality, to enjoy the storm of emotions and all kinds of emotions and then come back and identify a space which is reachable rather in a shorter time as one keeps practising it than longer. That is a great quality to have, otherwise one would be miserable in life.