Sunday, November 23, 2003

Encounter extraordinary 

Amitabh Dayal, the newest kid on the block, makes his debut in KagaaróLiving On The Edge directed by N. Chandra. His namesake, the Big B, is his idol and inspiration, Dayal tells  Vickey Lalwani.

In Kagaar..., Amitabh Dayal explores the psyche of a cop
In Kagaar..., Amitabh Dayal explores the psyche of a cop who specialises in encounters. Nandita Das plays his wife.

Amitabh Dayal was named after Bachchan because his mother saw the film Anand when she was a mother-to-be and Amitabh became her favourite.

Excerpts from an interview:

Did you always want to become an actor?

Yes. Ever since I was in school, I was inspired, sorry, mesmerised by Bachchan.

We hear that you often go to meet Bachchan.

It was in 1993 that I waylaid Amitji at the Taj in Mumbai and told him I was named after him and that I wanted to be an actor. I vividly recall that meeting. I was dressed in a black shirt, had long hair and was wearing a bandana, I showed off a cocky stylishness and when he looked me up and down, I realised what kind of an image I must have been presenting. He gave me a long, apprising look and said, "Okay, come tomorrow (to his house)". I replied, "Who will allow me into your house, there is so much security?" He said, "No, no give me a call and come." I called him the next day and he invited me over to ABCL. After that started a series of meetings with him. I went to his house too and was invited to his Holi parties and have had the privilege of playing Holi with him there.


Each time we spoke or met, he'd find out where I had reached in my search for work. I used to tell him that I was trying and he would reply, "It is essential to work, otherwise you will start feeling depressed." Then I did not meet him for some years. I felt shy that he'd enquire whether I had found work and what could I say? After I signed KagaaróLiving On The Edge, I again went to meet him.

How did Kagaar`85 actually happen?

Producer Mrunalini saw me acting in a play and offered me the role. Director N. Chandra tried me out and took the final call. It was not a typical film script. I had to literally live the character of an encounter specialist.

What is the film about?

What are the emotions of a cop when he confronts a dreaded criminal? How does an encounter specialist balance his family responsibilities and the call of the duty? These are some of the questions sought to be answered by Kagaar`85, which looks at the hitherto unexplored avenues of the personal life and mindset of a cop.

What is your role?

I play the lead role of Bhaskar Sarnaik, a Sub-Inspector who has killed 70 men in encounters. It was challenging to play a tough yet vulnerable cop. It was not the usual running-around the-trees type of film. The character has different shades.

How did you prepare for the role?

I spent a lot of time with Daya Nayak, an encounter specialist with the Mumbai Police, to get the feel of the real-life experiences of a cop.

Did you feel nervous being pitted against a stalwart like Om Puri?

Not at all. If I would have felt nervous, how would I have performed? I don't get intimidated by anybody.

How did it feel to be romantically paired with Nandita Das?

Cool. Nanditaji was very kind and cooperative. She never made me feel that she was a star and I was new.

Anant Mahadevan was supposed to direct Kagaar... before N. Chandra stepped into his shoes. Did you shoot with Mahadevan?

I would not like to comment on this. Mahadevan would be the right man to ask.

Have you made friends in the industry?

Not yet. I have many well-wishers though.

How much stressare you laying on building a good body?

I am not giving too much importance to body-building. Brawn is secondary, acting ability is primary.

How important is public relations in the industry?

I don't know why so much hue and cry is made when newcomers hop over to filmmakers and ask for work. Even Shah Rukh Khan must be asking Yash Chopra, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Karan Johar to make a film for him.

After Kagaar... what?

Now, I'll be doing Mani Kappan's film (untitled as yet). There are several offers, but I am not going to sign for just the heck of it. I am looking for meat and not fluff. TWF

This feature was published on November 16, 2003