Danny Denzongpa, who does not wish to be typecast as a character actor, rues the lack of quality roles for actors who are above 60 years of age saying unless one is Amitabh Bachchan, there’s nothing “substantial”.
“I don’t do much work these days. Actually, I never have. I get a lot of offers from influential corporate houses. But nothing that excites me.
“If I do smaller roles, I’ll be typecast as a ‘character’ actor. An appalling thought! Our cinema has nothing substantial to offer actors above 60 unless it’s Amitabh Bachchan. In recent times, I’ve enjoyed doing Neeraj Pandey’s ‘Baby’. Now, ‘Kabuliwala’.”
The actor is working on an adaptation of the classic Rabindranath Tagore story “Kabuliwala”. Balraj Sahni had done an adaptation in 1961 — but Danny says he’s not in any way trying to equal the intensity of the great actor’s portrayal.
“To equal Balraj Sahni is not even a possibility. He is such a great actor. I’m doing it my own way, hoping I’d make some impact,” said Danny, a brilliant actor from Sikkim best known for his villainous turn in films like “Agneeepath” and “Dhund”.
The emotional heft in the story of “Kabuliwala” left Danny completely moved.
When a young director named Dev from the Film and Television Institute Of India came to Danny with the idea of doing “Kabuliwala”, the actor fell in love with the suggestion.
“It is a modern take on the classic. But the basic story of a homesick Afghan dry-fruit seller’s ties with a little girl in Kolkata remains the same,” said the actor, adding that he has played the role with great restraint.
“My interpretation of this Afghan character is much more subdued than what I did as an Afghan in ‘Khuda Gawah’. In fact, I got the role of the Kabuliwala on the basis of ‘Khuda Gawah’,” he said.
Praising the film’s team, he said: “The co-actors are so committed. I am working with am actress from the Northeast, Gitanjali Thapa who is wonderful. I didn’t know she was a National Award winner. As for the director, it is so refreshing to work with a new talent.
“Dev is filled with innovative ideas. He is making ‘Kabuliwala’. But not the way it as been made before.”
Danny is excited about the role as it gives him a chance to display his range.
“My age span for the role is from 45 to 80. Lots of elaborate make-up will be done to make me look older. I am enjoying the challenge of doing a character which is emotional and relevant.”
The film’s shooting is nearly complete with just one song to be shot.
Danny is excited to see how far this film goes.
“The producer, Sunil Doshi, plans to take it to film festivals. This film is a process of self-discovery for me.”