IFFI 09 Sir Ben Kingsley

by: Honey Agarwal / Amit kumaR Agarwal

Sir Ben Kingsley needs no introduction. Etched in the memory of probably all the Indians as the actor who lived Mahatama in Gandhi; he won the coveted Oscar for the role. In an exclusive one-on-one interview, www.bol-news.com caught up with the legendary actor at IFFI 09, where he is playing an entirely different role - he is the Guest of Honor.

Sir Ben, what are your first impressions of IFFI? What are your recommendations to improve IFFI of whatever you have seen of it?

Sir Ben Kingsley: I have really been here for a really short time to comment on it. On the face of it, IFFI seems to be a fairly organized festival. As for my recommendations, I suggest with the Indian economy opening up; it is time that IFFI can think big and grow big, probably tie-up with a bigger festival say Berlin or Venice or Toronto to give it a much better degree of exposure.

Have you been to Goa before?

SBK: Of course, I have been to Goa and for that matter India countless times and each visit to India is special for me. It is always the same feeling when I came to India first to film Gandhi in October almost 30 years ago.

How did you prepare for the role of Gandhi?

SBK: Contrary to whatever the reports say that I prepared for Gandhi's role for 2 years (smiles) or read 27 books before we actually began filming. I auditioned for the role only in September. Flew to India in October and started filming Gandhi in November. What drove me to the role was the simple beauty of the man. I mean, how would he have felt when he was thrown out of a train in South Africa. A sense of seething anger and rage; yet he so beautifully channeled this anger to fight for the freedom of India. It is incredible!

Did you feel a change in yourself after playing the role of Gandhi? Would you play Gandhi differently today?

SBK: (Laughs lightly) Not immediately. But today, 30 years later, I do feel a change in me! I feel, Gandhi is not possible today. I still remember my first shot, it was a scene where Gandhi addresses a crowd of 20,000 people. No matter, how well I prepared, the fact when I came out and the energy, the adulation, the love that those 20,000 people gave me, helped me make that scene come alive. It is as much my performance as those 20,000 people! Today, a director would just opt for computer-graphics instead of having 20,000 actual people. Where would be the energy, the adulation, the love of 20,000 people that made the scene live? Making Gandhi is not possible again.

Which of the roles have been closest to you and why?

SBK: The role I played in House of Sand and Fog. I played an Iranian man Behrani. I still distinctly remember my mother exclaiming as she watched the film "Oh! that's my boy."

You are working on a new Bollywood film - Teen Patti. What is it about? How was it working with Amitabh Bachchan?

SBK: I can't really divulge the plot, but the film has shaped out quite well. Mr. Bachchan is a treat to work with. The manner in which he approaches any role is commendable. he is an absolute genius to work with.

Tell me something about your new film Taj?

SBK: Taj is about a man Shahjahan. When I got to know his story, I was moved by the plight of this man, the immense love he had for his wife. I can't tell you anything apart from that because the script just arrived 4 days back. Though, I am very keen that Aishwarya Rai Bachchan plays Mumtaz.

Let's hope that the cineastes get to see Taj true to the vision Sir Ben Kingsley has for his ambitious project set in India.