Nana Patekar plays wise counsel to ‘simpleton’ friend Rajinikanth before he plunges into dog-eat-dog Tamil Nadu politics
It was on the last day of 2017 that superstar, and veteran actor of South Indian cinema, Rajinikanth put speculation to rest by announcing his entry into politics. But his close friend from Maharashtra, senior actor Nana Patekar isn’t convinced of his decision. “There are a lot of things that politicians can’t do. They don’t have the right to question anybody. Gaali dene ka haq gawaan dete hain [when they enter politics],” he jokes at the onset of an interview with mid-day.
While Patekar is happy that a simple and clean man like Rajini has taken a bold decision, the actor’s stardom may be at risk, Patekar feels. “He needs to think about his decision seriously. I told him, ‘The people who love and worship you today, may question you once you join politics, because you are giving them that right.’ If political promises aren’t fulfilled, the resulting agitation can affect his films as well.”
Patekar, who has dived into social work and activism, and is discussed for his work among Maharashtra’s drought-ridden districts through his through NGO Naam Foundation, a collaboration with Makarand Anaspure, is clear he won’t follow in his friend’s footsteps. It’s not for the honest, he says, suggesting that Rajini’s plainspeak could come in his own way. Expressing concern for his friend, who he recently collaborated with for Tamil gangster film, Kaala, Patekar says, “I told him that he is not politician [material]. Merely staying good and honest is not enough. He is too simple; that’s why I fear [for him]. Politicians need to be manipulative, which we [Raniji and Patekar] are not capable of being.”
Patekar’s decision to distance himself from the field, he says, stems from the fear that his image as an actor might muddle matters. “Artistes should not form political parties or enter politics because the masses love them for the work they do on screen. If I join politics, and the people in my party err, I will be blamed for it. It isn’t possible that everyone on the team be righteous. If an actor wants to join politics, s/he should stop acting. You can’t mix the two.”
Meanwhile, Patekar is looking forward to the release of his upcoming Marathi film with producer-actor Ajay Devgn. Heaping praise on the director of Aapla Manus, which looks at a complex father-son relationship, Patekar says, “Satish [Rajwade] was fully prepared. I never had to tell him what camera angle would be ideal for a shot because he was so good.” Patekar plays an investigating officer who alters the life of his son and daughter-in-law (played by Sumeet Raghavan and Iravati Harshe) in the film.
“I am doing a role of this kind after long. It lacks melodrama. He is quiet and subdued, and his persona unravels with small events. The film will compel you to think. In our hectic lives, we forget simple things, like giving a hug to our parents. Relationships are ignored. That’s when we end up questioning, who it is that we are living and earning for?”
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