A mellowed, introspective Nana Patekar returns

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
3/5/2004 12:00:00 AM
 Once hot-headed and unpredictable, Nana Patekar has today mellowed beyond recognition.  

"I used to be too dominating. I used to be ready to fight. But I've mellowed. And you see it in my performance in 'Ab Tak Chhappan'," Patekar told IANS.

"There's no verbal outpouring in this role. I had become abusive in real life. Don't blame me, I inherited it from my mother. That was my Konkani mother's influence on me."

Nana now shuttles between Mumbai and Pune.

"I have so many things to do. Cinema isn't my only preoccupation. For some time now I was doing totally trashy work. Initially, I liked the sound of 'Vadh' and 'Aanch'. But the ingredients have to be right because I wasn't the one making the 'khichdi' (hotchpotch)."

But "Ab Tak Chhappan" and his association with Ram Gopal Varma has changed Patekar's life.

"I started thinking of myself as a larger than life figure. 'Ab Tak Chhappan' has brought me back to earth. It has taken me to my roots. I feel I'm back to Muzaffar Ali's 'Gaman' where I had an absolutely negligible role. I'm so happy with 'Chappan'."

Patekar feels a special bonding with Varma with whom he has earlier worked in "Bhoot" and "Darna Manaa Hai".

"Ramu (Varma) and I sit together sometimes talking till the wee hours. When I had my housewarming ceremony in Pune, he said he didn't believe in such things and that he came only for me.

"Today Ramu tells me I can make any kind of film, no matter how strange, for his company. Sometimes films are like mother's cooking. No chef can make the same kind of food as your mother. Ramu's films are like that. Even I directed a film, 'Prahaar', which I'm proud of. It did well, though not as well as it should've."

Patekar rates "Ab Tak Chhappan" as his best performance to date.

"I really liked myself in 'Khamoshi: The Musical'. I rate it as my best performance before 'Ab Tak Chhappan'. But it didn't do well. Audiences wanted to hear Nana speak. But he was mute. I regret the failure of 'Khamoshi'. It gave me the chance to do something different.

"Otherwise, filmmakers insisted on making me do the same things over and over again. And it was ridiculous of me to agree. I've no one to blame but myself. I became greedy. I had a lot of faith in a film like N. Chandra's 'Wajood'. But it wasn't possible for one man to carry the whole film."

The once-volatile actor lightens up when he remembers his first encounter with Varma.

"When Ramu made his first Hindi film, 'Shiva', he approached me to play a villain. When he called me, I said, 'Hello? Tell me...Come' and hung up. Ramu was flustered. He met me. I asked him to see me in 'Parinda' and decide whether I should repeat myself in 'Shiva'.

"He agreed that I shouldn't. After 'Shiva' was released I told him I didn't like the film. He then came to me for 'Bhoot'. He said, 'If you do it, people will remember the role.' I did it. Whatever I did in 'Bhoot' was because of Ramu's direction. I'm like a hotel. It's up to the director to take what he wants from the menu."

Patekar is also all praise for his "Ab Tak Chhappan" director Shimit Amin.

"Shimit is so sensitive. And so am I. Being from the school of arts, I like perfection in my work. And if I don't get roles like 'Ab Tak Chhappan', I won't act... There's so much more to like beyond the camera."