Gulshan Devaiah speaks to us about the movie, how there’s no balance between art and business aspects of filmmaking in Bollywood.
While holidaying with his wife, actor Gulshan Devaiah hurt his right knee and tore his ligament while skiing and had to go through a surgery. Though he couldn’t travel much to promote his latest release A Death in the Gunj, he says that he tried his best to spread a good word about the film. He speaks to us about the movie, how there’s no balance between art and business aspects of filmmaking in Bollywood and using his versatility to stay away from being stereotyped.
A Death in the Gunj has been well received. How special was the film for you?
I’ve been in films where I have played far more important parts. But I’m pleased with this film much more than any of my previous movies. It gave me the opportunity to work with a team comprising some of the finest actors — the best ensemble one can put in a film. Usually, an actor or two outperform others but it’s extremely rare that each member of the cast gets appreciated for their performances.
How was Konkana, who was making her debut, as a director?
Konkana was well-prepared. She has been acting for a long time; she has not only worked with several directors but has quite a long experience career-wise. She wanted actors whom she could trust. Of course, she was nervous on some days but it never felt like she was a novice.
How seamless is the process for you to switch from an extravagant film like Ram-Leela to a small-budget one like Gunj?
As an actor, I like to do a variety of roles. Some people choose not to work in certain kind of films because they want to be perceived as actors who wish to do films with mass appeal. I agree with such mentality but someone like me or Kalki (Koechlin) don’t think like that. There are still quite a few roles that are not in my range as of yet but with more experience I’m sure that I can pull them off soon. I like to create variety. I’m not bothered but I’m conscious of not being stereotyped. After Hate Story, I got offers to play erotic roles and same happened after Hunterr. I didn’t take them up. I try to experiment and hope not to fail in those experiments. You’ve to learn the art of diplomacy to refuse many roles.
But by getting too selective and not doing films regularly, don’t you fear that you might fade away from the public memory?
In 2014, I had no release. In 2015, I had one release and again in 2016, I had no release. A lot of filmmakers and audience members remember you for your roles but the public memory is short. Since the time that I made my debut, there have been many new talented actors who have come in the industry. I feel threatened and jealous seeing their roles. However, I try to not let my insecurities get the better of me. Also, sometimes, you just don’t have enough money. It gets financially difficult when you’re doing one film in two years and you aren’t the highest paid actor. Sometimes the payments happen late. That can add to your insecurities. On couple of occasions, I had almost signed films because I needed money and visibility but I think that I somehow saved myself by not doing them in a way.
So, when not doing films, what keeps you busy?
Waiting, and reading scripts and hoping those films are made when you like the scripts. But films keep getting shelved. Sometimes, people change their minds and someone else replaces you. Once I was dropped from a project because of numerology.
Is it a good time for actors like you who don’t come from a filmy background?
If you give preferences to one over the other, that’s also nepotism. Rich, powerful and star families are made scapegoats but in reality, everyone is guilty of nepotism. But the real point here is that it’s not a good time for actors. You still have to struggle a lot. People only want to earn money. The art and the business aspects of filmmaking aren’t balanced. From the West, we didn’t learn the art, craft and techniques but we learnt how to make money. That’s why figures are so important these days. A star is surrounded by ‘good actors’ because everyone knows that you need a good ensemble around an actor who has commercial value. It’s sheer packaging. For example, despite international acclaim Irrfan Khan is still not considered a major star in India. I hope that this trend will change and actors will fit in well. But I’m pessimistic about it.
How does your wife Kalliroi Tziafeta react to your lovemaking scenes?
(Laughs) We never had any arguments with either of us doing an intimate scene. We have had other problems but not in this regard.