It is not the duty of cinema to educate - Atul Kulkarni

Mar 9, 2006 Dr. Vaidyanathan

Atul Kulkarni, who rose to fame in Hind cinema with some brilliant roles in films such as Chandni Bar, Dum, Satta, Page 3 and Khakee, is feeling quite happy at the moment. Rang De Basanti, in which he stars, as a disillusioned Hindu militant Laxman Pandey, turned rebel, is a hit. While the film industry, the media and the audiences all over the globe are raving about the film, and how it has the power to change people and bring about a revolution, Atul is calm and composed.

How does it feel to be part of a film, which is such a big hit?

It feels good, obviously. Rang De Basanti has been appreciated by audiences all over the country and even abroad.

And how will this film change things?

The film is a brilliant effort, and is reputed to be a super duper hit, and has been loved by the audiences. In my opinion, no form of art, be it books, theatre or cinema, has in it the power to change a society, nor is it the duty of these art forms to do so. All these things only have the power in them to stimulate our thinking processes. For society to change, something much more is required.

What has been your observation, vis a vis this film?

As we went around promoting the film all over the country, I have seen is that there is certain unrest in the minds of the youth. The mask of complacency that they are wearing is just that—a mask, behind which their minds are active and turbulent. Films like Rang De can only provide a jerk to the minds of the youth.”

How did our first film, Hey Ram happen?

Hey Ram was my debut film. I had done a play called Gandhi Virrudh Gandhi and the producers of the film, after seeing that play, had liked my acting very much. So they decided to cast me in Hey Ram as the Hindu militant, Sriram Abhyankar. And being a Kamalahassan film, it was a good debut for me.

What has been your educational background?

I am born and bought up in Solapur. I did my graduation in Arts from Solapur, after which I enrolled in the National School of Drama. The course at the NSD was for a grueling 3 years, where I learnt all about acting. I then shifted to Mumbai, got noticed in the play and bagged Hey Ram.

You got an award for your role in the Marathi film, Devrai. How did you prepare for the role of a Schizophrenic?

A lot of preparations went into my role as a schizophrenic, for Devrai. Normally, as a common man, one does not really know much about this disease and about those who suffer from it. I spent a lot of time interacting with patients and their families. Also, a lot was learnt from the caregivers—those who take care of these patients. Plus I talked to a lot of psychiatrists, notable among them being Dr. Anand Nadkarni. I also tried to learn by observing patients of schizophrenia—their mannerisms, the way they talk, how they get agitated, how they withdraw into themselves, their angry outbursts etc--. These I tried and projected on the screen, to the best of my abilities. And it was a happy moment for me, when recognition and reward came, in the form of an award for the best actor.

What has been your take on the current crop of Hind films?

Some of the films in the recent past have appealed to me. I think Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Black released last year is a very important and a very interesting film. And the film, in spite of being away from the mainstream cinema, has managed to grab almost all the key awards this year. I also felt the Parineeta was a good film. I can see that the young actress Vidya Balan has a lot of potential. And I hope that I get a chance to work with her someday.

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Rang De Basanti


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