Paresh Rawal, who was last seen in Sanju, is gearing up for his latest film – Uri: The Surgical Strike where he plays Ajit Doval. In an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com, the veteran actor talks about patriotism and Aditya Dhar directorial. Rawal also shared the importance of responsibly playing army characters.
Q. What is your take on the 2016 surgical strike?
This was supposed to happen after the 26/11 attacks, but I don’t know why, the government didn’t react to the attacks that time. But when our soldiers were attacked and killed while they were asleep, it was such a terrible act. So, obviously some kind of reaction was expected, but nobody expected it to be at this level. It was a surprise for me. I was very happy that we gave it back to our enemies. To react like this, one needs that kind of political will, which was quite evident in Mr Modi (PM Narendra Modi). It was the need of the hour.
Q. How did you prepare to play Ajit Doval in Uri?
I am fascinated with the kind of work Doval sahab has done. He lived undercover for seven years in Lahore. To do this you need to be brainy for sure, but you also need to have that kind of valour and courage. His contribution during Operation Blue Star was remarkable. Today his opinions matter for our country, and he is respected by one and all. He is one of the most respectable spies of our country. We have seen too many fictional spies. Now we will tell a story of the actual one. The audience will love it.
I knew I had a responsibility while portraying him on screen. I had to maintain a dignity. I had to be true to the character so that people don’t interpret him in a wrong way. In no way could I afford to do anything that would damage his personality.
Q. Today, the way many people look at armed forces has changed.
Those who doubt military actions are thankless people. They don’t understand the value of the army and our soldiers. I don’t know who is the leader who makes people think this way. That soldier on the border gives his life for us. Parents expect their children to take care of them because they bring them up. But what about these soldiers. They haven’t even met the people they die for. People don’t understand the kind of sacrifice these soldiers make for us.
Q. How important is patriotism to you? Is it in showing how patriotic you are or is it about acting for the country’s betterment?
It is important to act for the betterment of the country. ‘Character is not what he says, character is what he does.’ This is our acting principle, and that is what I believe in.
Q. We used to have a lot of patriotic films, and even an audience for it. But lately, these films are not doing too well.
I don’t want to name these films, but if your film is loaded with jingoism, then the audience has had enough of it and they don’t want it anymore. We have to compete with many global war films. These spectacular films are now easily available on platforms like Netflix. Just watch the first twenty minutes of Saving Private Ryan. We can’t make such films here as we can’t show the kind of violence that happens at the war front. We have censors. Steven Spielberg had said that even if one frame is chopped, he would not release the film. We can’t do that here. We can’t even reach that level.
However, Uri is not the kind of film where people randomly shout out slogans like ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and wave flags. This has a thrill in it. Uri is a patriotic thriller.