Vishwanath aka Nana Patekar is one actor who has his own style and no one can ape him but, yes, many mimic him which must be an ultimate tribute to him. After successful cop acts in films like 'Shagird', '26/11' and the much acclaimed 'Ab Tak Chhapan', he now returns to his ‘hot shot’ police inspector Sadhu Agashe act in the sequel of the film 'Ab Tak Chhapan-2' which is set to release soon. Sandeep Hattangadi spoke to the mercurial actor about his new film. This is what Nana told him in a candid ‘encounter’
The policewala character of Sadhu Agashe (Nana's character in 'Ab Tak Chhapan') comes after a gap of 10 years. What has changed for him?
Agashe has retired from the police department and leads a peaceful life in Goa along with his son and other family members. He fishes all day and just relaxes with his cigars and small pegs wearing casual shorts and a hat. But at the behest of his son he agrees to take on an assignment for which he has to turn a crime buster again. The crime scenario too has changed because the criminals and crimes which used to happen are no longer prevailing. But many other serious crimes like cyber crime and economic offences and other white collar crimes are existing today which he has to fight.
Reports suggest that you ghost direct films.
Yes (laughs). But I only interfere for the betterment of the film and I confess that I sometimes ghost direct films but it’s all for good of the film but as directors Ejaz- Gulab of ‘Ab Tak Chhapan-2’ are technically accomplished action directors and they had a ready bound script with them, I didn’t interfere much in their work. They have made a really good film. I know I am known as a very hotheaded actor who asks for scripts before shooting the films. But you tell me is it right when filmmakers come to me saying, “You are playing the main villain in the film”, how can I not get angry when one has to act without even knowing the story of the film. I am an unprofessional actor in that way. But only with people who don’t know their jobs.
You are getting stereotyped as a cop. Does it satisfy you creatively?
I don’t think so. Because every cop character is different in each film. The cop in 'Shagird' is different from the cop in '26/11' and the cop in ‘Ab Tak Chaapan-2’. They are contrasting characters.
You have an important role in 'Welcome-2' as well? What is it about sequels that you like?
It’s a strange coincidence but I am happy with my 'don' character in 'Welcome-2' who is funny and witty and wants to be a film actor. He also spews 'shayaari' at the drop of a hat. It was great to work with the ensemble cast of the film.
Recently your Marathi film 'Dr. Prakash Baba Amte' got you many accolades?
Prakash is my friend for the last 40 years and I know him well. I know about his great work in the Naxalite-infested Gadchiroli area where the Adivasis are a poor lot and the philanthropic Prakash has done great work for them. I am inspired by his father, Baba Amte too and I will be making a bio-pic on Baba Amte too starring me and directed by me too.
We hear you are starring in the film adaptation of the classic Marathi play 'Natsamraat' starring in the memorable character of Appasaheb Belwalkar?
I will be starring in 'Natsamrat' along with Reema Lagoo as my wife and Vikram Gokhale and directed by Mahesh Manjrekar. This role is the ultimate litmus test for any actor and I am sure this film will make it to the Oscars. Because we have used a new cinematography technique for the film with reality show type cameras.
Your another good film ‘Horn Ok Please’ is lying in the cans?
Yes. The film has turned out really well and the director Rakesh Sarang has done a great job but the producer decided to hard sell the film at a high price. But it's now getting a lower price than was actually first offered. But I am sure the film will release soon.
What do you think of Marathi cinema at present?
Marathi cinema has come of age and we have content-driven films Unlike the eighties and nineties when we had a spate of mindless comedies which were crass and puerile. But now the scenario has changed and that’s why I decided to act in a film like 'Deool'.
When can we see you in theatre-plays again?
I am certainly off the radar in drama. But there is a vague possibility that I might do a few select performances of 'Natsamrat'.
After 'Prahaar' you have not directed a film?
Yes. I am about to direct a big film which will be shot in many international locations like Istanbul, etc.
You do a lot of charity work.
I do my mite but I don’t want to shout about it from rooftops. Because if I feel a cause is right, I do contribute in whatever small way I can.
Have you not thought of entering active politics?
Politics is not my cup of tea but I have received offers from many political parties. But the problem is that I will have to toe their leaders' lines and agendas and manifestoes which I won’t be able to do.
You were all set to launch your son Malhar?
Yes. But now he wants to be a producer and a director. So he is assisting me on my films to learn the ropes.
How do you unwind and who are your mentors?
I go to my farm house and visit my mother who is 95 years old and lives in Murud Janjira and I always take her blessings. My father was from the Warkari sect and my parents are my mentors and I owe everything to them. Also the late drama producer Mohan Tondwalkar, who gave me hit plays like 'Mahasaagar' and 'Purush', is one person whom I am thankful to for elevating me to where I am today.
What do you owe your success to?
To the many insults and the struggle I had to go through and the various tough situations I had to undergo.
Nana Patekar is one dynamic actor who has seen and lived a multi-faceted vibrant life.