We recently caught up with Fukrey actor Ali Fazal – over the phone – to talk to him about his upcoming web series Mirzapur. The actor was at his candid best and spoke at length about his character Guddu Pandit, his preparation for the part, marriage and more.
Read on to know all that Mirzapur star Ali Fazal had to say:
1) How did you come onboard Mirzapur?
I think it was last year while finishing up – it was after Fukrey and – I don’t know it just came to me. It was a great script and I wanted to test for this part. In fact, they had come to me for another part and not Guddu Pandit – the part that I am playing. Which then somehow didn’t work out because then I wasn’t available and dates got pushed and finally when I came back they said ‘You know what, we have to try you for the lead.’
I was surprised because I thought I couldn’t pull off this kind of role but it was one of the most interesting parts of the series. I am very glad that the makers choose me for this and they gave me a chance to explore this side of me.
2) Tell us about your character Guddu Pandit
It’s a story about 2 brothers and their rise to the backend of Mirzapur, their rise in a place where there is gun trade, there’s afim (a type of drug) trade and these guys are total opposite in many ways and yet they’re not. So Guddu is the kind of guy – he’s all heart.
He is short tempered, he very instinctive about everything in life – from emotions to action to relationship to everything. And you see that in different phases, in different chapters of the show and how that change in his innocence somewhere deep down, shapes him up. Sometimes it destroys him. What I am in episode 9 is very different from what I am in episode 1 – it’s a lot of difference. It’s a beautiful graph and I think a very challenging one.
That’s all I can say right now.
3) How was it transforming into a dark character for the series?
I started training 3 months before – sorry 4 months before we started shooting filming and then I trained for another 3 months to put on muscle and mass – I had to eat carbs. I shaved off my hair, I had to learn the dialect.
People don’t know about this but I joined this underground sort of fight clan to within and outside Banaras which had these underground fights that happened – these local fights. People don’t know it’s kind of like a gambling thing – but I wanted to get a sense of the underground world and how… at the same time learn to fight rather the instinctive way that through martial arts and stuff like that. Those characters are not from that upbringing and at the same time they have to know the soul that comes from the underbelly
So those were the things I tried to do as much as I could because I didn’t have the chance to sit with my cast – I was travelling continuously, promoting Victoria and Abdul – all I had I had was my calls with my director. That is what I cherish.
4) Did traces of playing a dark character on screen seep into your real life?
Oh Shit! No no no no no. (Laugh) I mean nothing like that it was all scripted. It was part of what we had to do on set. In fact, my bigger fight was to and use as many abuses as I could for my dialogues. For me, if it is possible to convey anger and hate silently then we don’t need to use those words let alone abuses.
Also on a platform like this where you have the freedom to do that you have to be far more responsible while using those words or showing explicit content. Unfortunately or fortunately, whatever you call it, Mirzapur and that whole belt – abusing are very common, everybody abuses. Even friends abuse each other – it’s hilarious. It will be offensive if I say those things in any other part of India. That’s how these people are brought up and how they live their lives and I’m talking about normal people, not gaonwala or anybody.
And no, in my real life I don’t think that sort of thing is there in my life.
5) How was it working with Pankaj Tripathi, Divyendu Sharma and the others?
It was amazing. What a stellar cast we had. We had a lovely cast.
6) A memorable incident while shooting Mirzapur
Oh, there are so many memories. I don’t have a fond memory there are many hilarious memories.
I remember me and Vikrant are in the car and there’s something that has happened and we are both in a rush. And I’m driving the car and I’m abusing. So I’m like really angry and I’m just going nuts and I remember banging the steering wheel and then my phone fell. While driving I tried to pick up my phone – that’s all I remember. And uske baad I just remember Vikrant stopping me and saying bhai bhai bhai bhai and I’m like chup karo take chal raha hai carry on. And he’s just joking and smiling and I’m like what happened and finally, I look at the windscreen – the windscreen had gone red. There was blood splattering from my finger. When I bend down to pick up my phone, my finger got cut with the joystick. It was just hilarious because it was like a fountain and I didn’t even notice it.
It was disgusting – it’s not something I should be proud of. But it was really funny.
7) Bollywood, Hollywood and now web series – how is it working in these industries?
I mean at the end of the day your making films. The way we shot this series it was like shooting 3 and a half films back to back.
Hollywood is ahead of us because of the technological advancement they have and they started also way before us so we have to respect that. Their low budget films are like our highest budget films. Victoria And Abdul was made in like 25 Crores which is like our high budget films.
It’s just the work ethics that change with the different platforms. I’m enjoying all the platforms right now. But I will always love Bollywood.
8) Many Bollywood celebs are tying the knot this year – is a marriage on the cards for you?
(Laughs) No, I don’t know. Not right now. I’m swamped with work. It’s a very nice thing that people are getting married. I can’t comment on when I will get married right now.
9) What’s next?
Next up is Milan Talkies a film by Tigmanshu Dhulia and a film called Prassthanam with Sanjay Dutt, Manisha Koirala, Jackie Shoff – which is based on a south film of the same name.
Take a look at the trailer of Ali Fazal starrer Mirzapur here:
Starring Pankaj Tripathi, Ali Fazal, Vikrant Massey, Divyendu Sharma, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Shweta Tripathi, Shriya Pilgaonkar, Rasika Dugal, Harshita Gaur, and Amit Sial. Mirzapur will be available from November 16 on Amazon Prime.