FURIOUS 7 and VICTORIA & ABDUL gave Ali Fazal a thrust into the world of international cinema. The actor, who had first starred in American TV series Bollywood Hero in 2009, says he wants to be a part of the diversity wave that is now taking Hollywood by storm.
FURIOUS 7 saw him in a bit role, but the British drama VICTORIA & ABDUL saw him play the lead one with veteran actor Judi Dench. What next?
"I can't talk about what is exactly next, but there are two projects that I am on board for. One is a biopic, a true story again," Ali told IANS, adding that VICTORIA & ABDUL has not just opened up doors for him internationally, but in India too.
"It's weird how that works, but we have always looked up to Hollywood, so one person goes and suddenly they… Anyway," the actor, stopping abruptly only to add: "I am very hopeful. I am very happy with the decisions I have made."
"I have given up some big network TV shows very recently because even if it is Hollywood, it has to be the right stuff. As an Indian going there, you're always scared of getting stereotyped. I have seen that happen before," he said during a recent chat in Melbourne during a film festival.
He believes the castings are opening up now.
"The diversity is happening in Hollywood and I want to be a part of it. It's a really exciting time for everybody, not just actors," added Ali, who is optimistic about the kind of content the web series space has brought along.
He will himself be seen in Amazon Prime Video's original series, the gritty drama Mirzapur.
"It's not Amazon's answer to (Netflix's) Sacred Games… It has to be the answer…The people will decide," Ali said of the show, which he feels will stand out due to its outstanding cast and gripping story.
There's Pankaj Tripathi, Shweta Tripathi, Vikrant Massey, Kulbhushan Kharbanda and Rasika Dugal among others.
"It's a plethora of great actors and at the same time, it's good writing. It was such layered writing, and to give some Hollywood films as references to give an idea, it's a mix of Narcos and GODFATHER in the Indian context," said Ali, whose most recent screen appearances were in FUKREY RETURNS and HAPPY PHIRR BHAG JAYEGI.
His upcoming slate of Bollywood films includes the Hindi remake of the Telugu PRASTHAANMAN and Tigmanshu Dhulia's MILAN TALKIES — both set in Uttar Pradesh.
In the former, a father-son story set against a political backdrop, Ali plays son to Sanjay Dutt. In the latter, he will be seen as an ambitious filmmaker.
Filmmaking is also something that is on Ali's mind.
He is penning a short film, which he calls an ode to his inspiration — the multifaceted Guru Dutt — and will direct it too.
As an actor today, Ali says one needs to be diverse in talent.
"I am not just acting, I am also writing, I am also going the direction way… If nothing, then I am able to put my own stuff out there because I can… I don't have to depend on others.
What about going the production way?
"Why not? That's the end game. Earlier, actors used to be on this pedestal that 'bas wohi hain (that they are just actors)… I love acting and I will never leave that, but I want that rush to create something, and be a director."
By Radhika Bhirani