Ali Fazal’s Hollywood journey started way back in 2015 with a special appearance in Furious 7 and the actor slowly moved to playing a pivotal part opposite Judi Dench in Victoria & Abdul.
Fazal, who has started shooting for Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile, says while signing a project in the West, his endeavour has always been to not get slotted in cliche Indian parts.
“I’m not giving back-to-back auditions for too many films. I make sure to not slip into the cliche parts where an Indian just plays a maharaja. Not to dumb-grade those parts, but then it becomes a type. I don’t want to fall into a zone,” the actor told PTI in an interview.
Fazal adds his criterion stays the same for Indian projects as well.
“Even in India, I’m constantly trying to break my image. Sometimes it doesn’t work in my favour as I’m not a guy with an image or I’m still not a guy who is bankable enough. So it has pros and cons.”
In Death on the Nile, which marks Branagh’s second film adaptation of an Agatha Christie novel after Murder on the Orient Express, the actor plays one of the leads.
The movie also features Hollywood stars Gal Gadot, Letitia Wright, Armie Hammer, Annette Bening, Sophie Okonedo, Tom Bateman and Russell Brand.
Fazal says he is excited about the project as his character was not a part of the original book or the 1978 movie adaptation and the writers developed the part especially for this film.
“There was no presence of a character from another country in the original book, or even in the first film. That’s why I really admire the diverse nature of the cast. I’m very excited. My accent is very different in the film. I have to work really hard.”
The actor, who is in the UK since last month preparing for his part in the film, calls the project a “tough task”.
“The whole film is on the cruise in the Nile. So it is going to be adventurous. But also it has a lovely cast,” he adds.
Fazal believes the debate around the diversity in cinema has acted as a catalyst to the ever-growing presence of India and Asian artistes in Hollywood films.
Referencing to legendary actor Marlon Brando’s decision to decline the best actor Academy Award in 1973 for his performance in The Godfather over “virtually no representation” of Native Americans, Fazal says these conversations should continue.
“I believe both we and the conditioning we are living with should keep changing. It only reminds me of a time when Marlon Brando refused the Oscar and people booed him. People actually didn’t like what he did. But he talked about things that we are now discussing.
“Now we have started to talk about how people of colour are treated or depicted. These conversations should happen all the time, be it on the political level or artistic level,” he says.
Death on the Nile will be shot across London and parts of Europe.