Says actor Mukul Dev who is getting accolades from all corners for his terrific portrayal of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi (one of the masterminds behind the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks) in ZEE5'S STATE OF SIEGE: 26/11.
The winner of Indian Telly award for best actor in a negative role (Jury) for 21 SARFAROSH SARAGARHI 1897 has been in the entertainment industry more than 25 years. Mukul who made his tryst with camera in the TV series TANDAV in 1994, has worked with leading Bollywood stars like Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Madhuri Dixit, Nana Patekar and Sushmita Sen to name a few. Cooling his heels and basking in the STATE OF SIEGE: 26/11 glory during the quarantine period due to the Corona pandemic, Mukul gets candid about his journey and experiences of playing Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, The future of OTT, his understanding of terrorism and more..
How State Of Seige: 26/11 landed to you?
I had already worked with Abhimanyu before and not just that, we almost have grown up together. Well for STATE OF SIEGE, he called me to his office and we had a very brief discussion on the show and I was sure that if it's Abhimanyu's making it is surely going to be good.
What preparations you went through?
I knew about this guy and had already done research on him since I have penned a film called OMERTA. While writing the film, I went through a lot of research and read a lot of books on terrorism. I could somehow create a picture of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi in my mind because I had read about him and seen his videos etc. He was more like a handyman is what I felt. For somebody like him, there are always people who would go and do dirty jobs for them so they remain the celebrated figures giving speeches etc.
Have you read the book Black Tornado: The Three Sieges of Mumbai 26/11 by Sandeep Unnithan?
Yes, I read Sandeep Unnithan's book, he's a brilliant author. After having read his book, I was quite particular and wanted to make sure that I match up to his expectations. After watching the performance he actually praised me, trust me I thought I already won the battle because if the author gives you the compliment that means you have done something that makes the actor in you happy.
Do you think Bollywood has utilized your true potential?
As far as Bollywood is concern, I feel every actor feels that he can do better than what is he's doing at the moment. I'm certainly not at all ungrateful or anything. I had worked in movies starring the biggest names like Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Madhuri Dixit, Nana Patekar and Sushmita Sen to name a few. Those movies where made by renowned makers like Mahesh Bhatt, Mukul Anand, Aziz Mishra, Kundan Shah just to mention a few. I have no complains. I did a lot of television shows then I moved on to south films, Bengali, Punjabi and then came back into Bollywood with SON OF SARDAR, and YAMLA PAGLA DEEWANA and people accepted me with open hearts. Why should I complain? I am actually grateful for everything.
The difference between facing the camera for a movie compared to TV and OTT?
For me as an actor, facing the camera whether it's an OTT, television or films doesn't make a difference. Shooting is something I enjoy. I'm at my best when I'm shooting, cracking jokes on sets, doing scenes. I'd say OTT space gives a lot of scope for an actor to experiment. Is OTT a boon or curse for the big screen and reason behind?
Contents which are coming out on OTT are fabulous. I won't say it's a boon or curse to the cinema, but definitely, the competition has already begun and I absolutely believe in healthy competition. At the end of the day, content matters and that is going to benefit everyone.
You have played a terrorist in STATE OF SEIGE: 26/11?, what is terrorism according to you? And its relation with religion?
Terrorism according to me is another form of crime which is just escalated. When crime gets too desperate that one kind of latches on to everything, be it poverty, religion, communism etc.. I'm strictly against glorifying terrorism or attaching any kind of history to it and trying to make it sound like the most intellectual thing to talk about. I was in fact very clear about this when I was writing my first film OMERTA, I wanted to make it very clear about how they operate etc. I feel they should be pulled out of their holes and shot dead at the first minute. I don't even think there's any kind of life imprisonment enough for terrorist, they should be just killed according to me. I wanted to make the audience witness and know that it is not just about a person holding a gun or killing people, there are proper brains that get together and operate intelligently. With STATE OF SIEGE: 26/11, I wanted to tell people as how well organized it is and how we need to be ahead of these people.
What precaution you are taking during this Corona Covid 19 crises?
It is a very serious pandemic and everyone in our country should follow and listen to our government. I would like to tell everyone to stay at home, that's the best thing to do now and the only way to stop this from spreading more.
My message to the audience is to watch STATE OF SIEGE: 26/11 on ZEE5 while they're at home. Also, take care of yourselves and family and stay safe.