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|July 22, 1997||
'Ambedkar was a humanist. I am also for the human race'
The pre-shoot preparations are just about peaking (cinematographer Ashok Mehta, in his trademark cowboy hat, jeans, jacket, and smoking cigarette in hand, is studying camera angles; art director Nitin Desai is dedicatedly touching up the sets; and director Jabbar Patel is flitting around with script in hand and a frown on his brow), and there is more than enough time for him to get into costume.
But first, there is a minor fixing to be done. "Can I fix a moustache before we record?" he asks the documentarian, who nods.
A little later, moustache firmly in place, the star is back. "Comedy --" he begins, leaning with one hand on a fragile structure, supposedly belonging to the Ambedkar era, "-- is appreciated by everyone..."
And talk he did, at lunch time. Still in his Ambedkar costume -- even down to the thick glasses -- Mammotty, alternating between English and Malayalam, answeredChindu Sreedharan's queries:
How much of a milestone do you consider Dr Ambedkar to be in your career?
What does the role hold for you? What made you take it up?
It is an interesting project. A very big one. It offers international exposure. It is about the currrent hot hero. In short, it is a challenge.
How do you rate your performance in the film till now? A good job?
I can't say I have done a good job... I am struggling to do it. I am trying to bring it all out. I have done as best as I can.
Can't say I am happy... I am still tense. It's not a question of happiness, anyway. If you are happy, it will affect your work. You shouldn't be really cocky. Otherwise, you won't try hard... that extra-effort will be missing.
Any shot/shots which you found particularly tough?
Every shot was tough. You can't really say one scene was particularly tough and another less so. Everything was tough.
About the efforts you put in preparing for the role...
I don't prepare or rehearse. I give everything in the shot. I go through the script very thoroughly. After all, the film is based on it. I can't deviate from it, I can only improve in the script. That I am doing.
Yeah. Ambedkar was a humanist. I am also for the human race.
Any incident which remains in your mind?
In Nagpur, while I was in costume there were people touching my feet... I couldn't really believe it. Of course, it was not Mammotty's feet they were touching, it was Ambedkar's... It goes to show how much reverence they had for him.
As an actor I want to have that kind of love... I don't want people to fall on my feet or anything. But I want their love. I am expecting -- hoping -- for that.
The first part where Ambedkar is young is all right. There isn't much make-up. But the scenes when he is old were really bad. It took about four hours to be made up. And there were too many physical restrictions. I couldn't move, couldn't speak properly as my mouth was full of pads... I couldn't shoot for long in the makeup -- at a stretch for only four hours. After that, the make-up would start running... I had to overcome all these and perform. It was very tough.
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