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Reel Awards: Nominees Pankaj Tripathi and Adil Hussain On India's Obsession With Idol Worship

Thespians Adil Hussain, Pankaj Tripathi and Manoj Bajpayee talk about the Indian cine-goer's obsession with big name stars, which they ascribe to a long-held tradition of a need to have idols to worship.

Kriti Tulsiani |

Updated:March 20, 2018, 3:16 PM IST
Reel Awards: Nominees Pankaj Tripathi and Adil Hussain On India's Obsession With Idol Worship
A file photo of Pankaj Tripathi
In Bollywood, below the layer of commercial potboilers and big name stars, lies a core of actors who own every scene they’re in. They might not be referred to as stars according to the standard Bollywood dictionary but they have proven their credentials as actors and more so as someone reliable who can never let a story fall flat at more occasions than one. The year gone by stands a testimony to the fact that even viewers will not accept anything and everything served to them unless it checks their boxes of sense and sensibilities. Shah Rukh Khan’s Jab Harry Met Sejal and Salman Khan’s Tubelight both crashed at the box office while a slew of small-budget films including Newton, Mukti Bhawan, A Death In The Gunj and Lipstick Under My Burkha did fairly well and managed to impress the audience and critics alike. Often the Indian film industry falls prey to the star and its shine, but with more and more commercial successes for content-driven cinema, it seems the spotlight is now shining on the right faces.

Adil Hussain, who has been nominated in the Best Actor category (Male) for his performance in Mukti Bhawan, earlier told that the idea of stardom arises because we are a feudal society that is used to worshiping people, noting, “It’s a cultural thing because we’re a feudal society, we worship people. There's been a huge class difference - economically, intellectually very few people get to higher studies. So, there's a tendency of worshiping or putting someone on pedestal all the time. The disadvantage is that the stardom then exists and advantage is that we imbibe good qualities from the other person.”

Hussain, who has also taught in the West, said that “they don't give a damn to a teacher unless they’re good. You don’t demand respect it has to come naturally” adding that the kind of craft we see even in the younger generation in the West is not something too prevalent in our country.

Hussain also explained that males in general take a long time to grow up and most new-age actors in India still behave like kids, saying “They sometimes behave like 8-year-olds. It’s okay if someone has said something- It’s their minds, their words, why are you so worked up on that and why are you so worried about what will people think. They need to understand that it’s their responsibility to see what they think of you but it’s your responsibility of what you think of other people- so work on that.”

“So the intensity that you see in an 8-year-old actor in Hollywood is way more mature than Indian actors in their 20s or 30s,” he added.

Another acting stalwart, Pankaj Tripathi, has had a standalone number of over nine films in the year 2017 including some of the most outstanding productions of the year- Newton, Bareilly Ki Barfi, Anaarkali of Aarah and Gurgaon among others. The actor, who has been nominated in the Supporting Actor category for his impressive act in Amit V Masurkar’s Newton opposite Rajkummar Rao, told that praying to an idol or a star has been a part of our tradition since far too long now. “They think that it’s only necessary to pay money and regards to the hero. Kyunki humaare blood mei hai na – 1000 saal tak hum gulaam rahe hai kabhi angrezo ki, kabhi kisi ki. Toh kisi ko hero maangna, kisi ko pujna - humaare nature mein hai,” he quipped.

Tripathi also expressed a certain dislike for the tag of supporting actor, saying, “We are all actors. These terms exist because earlier, the so-called side actors were clichéd-driven and stereotyped. Ek hi tarah se karte the – inspector aayega, behave karega, ab aisa nahi raha. Now the new-age filmmakers like Ashiwny Iyer Tiwari believe that all the actors are equally important for a film. Bareilly ki barfi ki kahaani bina baap ke aur maa ke nahi kari jaa sakti thi. Hence, the stature of these actors has risen now which should have happened long before.”

He also shared that it is because of discrimination like these that a few actors still continue to struggle on monetary matters.

Manoj Bajpayee, who has in his filmography titles like Satya, Shool, Pinjar, and Gangs of Wasseypur among others, had shared his elation over small budget films doing relatively well in the Indian film industry in an earlier interview. He had said, “I am very happy that small or medium budget films are doing well with lesser powerful faces but better or stronger actors. But as far as this year is concerned, only few films with bigger stars have failed.”

He added that just people still shouldn’t underestimate the star power as “stars are going to be there as long as cinema exists. Audiences, especially in our country, are always in search of stars who they can look up to. So if certain films haven’t done well, we can’t underestimate those stars."

(News18 Reel Movie Awards are India’s first and only movie awards that recognise and reward New Age Cinema and its artists who deserve glory as they champion creative visual storytelling and epitomize diversity in the uniqueness of content. Both Adil Hussain and Pankaj Tripathi have been nominated this year. You can choose and make your favourites win by taking our poll.)

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