'I would like to have my private space'
He has been part of a few successful films, raising expectations sky high. As young Malayalam actor Asif Ali found out, there's a downside to fame as well.
His withdrawal from the Celebrity Cricket League after attending the practice sessions, the failure of his recent film Asuravithu, and his reluctance to use a mobile phone have been the subjects of much media attention.
In an exclusive interview with Meghna George, Asif faces some bouncers and explains his stand on the issues.
Do you think you have to live up to very high expectations these days?
Frankly, yes (smiles). That is creating problems for me. I have been appreciated for my free acting style and all these pressures are affecting me now.
It is to get rid of it that I have limited the use of my mobile phone. After doing my work, I would like to have my private space. But it that has become a big issue.
I have been thrown out of the Kerala Strikers CCL (Celebrity Cricket League) team as well.
Image: Asif Ali
'I admire Jagathy Sreekumar'
What was the CCL controversy about?
I have to blame myself for that too. After I talked with the directors I found I couldn't be free on the days of the matches and for me, cinema is the ultimate. I was hesitant to communicate this to the team owners and that has created a lot of controversy.
You could have told the Kerala Strikers team management about your commitments...
I was involved in all the practice sessions for the CCL. Of course, I should have informed them about my schedules. It is the fear on the part of an immature person. I had to talk to some of my idols who are at the helm of affairs, which I couldn't do. Now, it has become a real big issue.
Your mobile phone has become a big subject of discussion...
Absolutely. I have always been reluctant to use a mobile phone whenever it affects my freedom. Why blame me if I don't pick up my phone when I am busy?
Of course, I am also to be blamed when I don't respond to a message or a missed call. I don't know why, may be it could be some sort of a psychological disorder (laughs).
Image: Asif Ali
'Asuravithu got a mixed response'
What was the response to your recent film, Asuravithu?
I was surprised by the huge welcome for the film during the first two days. I feel that there is a responsibility on my shoulders now as people expect a lot from me. I consider it a challenge.
Are you happy with the way Asuravithu has turned out?
For all those who watched it as a masala film, Asuravithu was enjoyable. It got a mixed response. I got the result I had expected.
This was an action and masala film perhaps modelled on some Telugu film and the producer is also safe from the investment point of view.
Which are your forthcoming films?
I have completed shooting for Cowboy, directed by P Balachandra Kumar. I have signed for Saji Surendran's Husbands in Goa and Madhupal's next. Siby Malayil's Unnam will release soon. Currently I am doing Amal Neerad's Bachelor Party.
Image: A scene from Asuravithu
'I enjoy the appreciation that I am receiving'
Actor Jagathy Sreekumar had criticised your acting on a TV show. Did that hurt you?
I admire him and have talked about his influence on me and in reply he said what he thought about me. That is all I want to say about it.
Do you think success has come to you pretty easily?
I enjoy the appreciation that I am receiving but to be successful, all this appreciation should last for a longer time. And that is adding more pressure on me.
I wanted to be in films and I knew that people would appreciate my talent. But I didn't expect that to happen so fast. This means misunderstandings crop up pretty easily.
I have always done scripts which I felt suited me but now when I say no, people take it in the wrong way. It hurts me.
Like, people behave as if my not picking up the phone is the greatest issue here.
I am planning to change my Facebook status to 'Asif Ali versus phone'!
Image: A scene from Violin