Nana Patekar plays the role of a Joint Commissioner of Mumbai Police based on the character of Mumbai supercop Rakesh Maria in the film The Attacks of 26/11 directed by Ram Gopal Varma. The film produced by Alumbra Entertainment and Eros International to release on 1st March is a blow by blow account of what happened on the night of 26/11 when terrorists attacked Mumbai.
You were playing the role of a well known cop Rakesh Maria from Mumbai. And you happen to know him as well. So what preparations went into playing Maria who already had a tough time dealing with the attacks?
Rakesh Maria is a very good friend of mine and so are most of the cops. I always maintain a very good rapport and relationship with the cops because it is good for us to do so. (Winks). But then if you ask me whether I am trying to talk like him, walk like him, well that is not how I did it. I merely adopted the attitude that he has and that was enough for me to perform the role.
Tell us more on the character of Maria that you play in RGV’s The Attacks of 26/11.
Rakesh Maria was accused of not being able to handle the situation and the pattern of the screenplay is thus that it follows his answers that were put forth in front of the Pradhan Committee. Ramu has presented the film in a very different manner and pattern.
The Attacks of 26/11 is based on a tragedy… what is your comment on it?
Yes, this is not an incident that we can remember and be happy about it. This is a very horrific incident which we would ideally prefer to forget. We would not like to watch it again in the form of documentation. Ram Gopal Varma hence has tried to in fact do something, which I would not like to call documentation. What is being said through the film is said through a certain character played by me in the film and that is perhaps what I would have said as well. You will see the film and agree with what is being said. There is nothing that you like and be happy about after seeing the film. There are no songs and no dances that will entertain you. And that is one reason why I am a part of this film.
How is The Attacks of 26/11 different from every other film you have worked in?
But then coming back to the point, this is not a movie. If you think that this comes across as a film then we have not been successful in our endeavour to depict it well. But then I am very sure that this will not seem like a movie to you. I am very sure that people will not clap after seeing the film and every one will come out of the movie hall with their lips sealed. Ram Gopal Varma wanted to present the film like this and the success of the film will lie there.
Being a Mumbaikar and witnessing the attacks on TV, was it difficult to work in the movie?
Normally when you play other characters, one comes and does his role and goes away. But then that was not the point with this film and this role. This is not just a film for me. It was a huge responsibility playing the character in this film because it carried a lot of weight and responsibility for me to play the role of a man who had defended Mumbai.
It is an incident. I cannot say how the director perceived the scene and what he thinks of the entire incident. It is not merely about the recreation of the scenes in the film. But what is important is what kind of comment does the film make? What is the impact of what happens in the film make on the society? So you cannot dismiss this as a film and we cannot promote this film as a movie.
And now if you ask me how easy or tough was it to play the role, well after spending 40 years in this business as an actor, I will certainly be able to do some kind of a justice to a role with my performance. And if there is a role that is tough, one feels it more challenging to essay such roles. I agree that working in a film like Welcome was not as tough as working in a film like the Attacks of 26/11. I had absolutely no responsibility while playing that role in Welcome, but here I did have one.
What do you think of the film?
I have still not been shown the complete film. But then whatever I have seen of this film, I believe that Ram Gopal Varma has made a very good film after a long time. I am very happy that I am a part of this film and a very important part of the movie as well.
Do you think that the 26/11 attacks was a result of the failure of our security system in the city of Mumbai?
If we are sitting here and then there is an attack, how do you think that it can be handled? Look at the number of policemen as compared to the kind of population we have in our city and the ratio of the cops to the people in the city. I feel that till the time we love each other and we believe and trust in each other, such incidents will keep taking place. Be it people from any religion, unless and until they have a bond, we will not be able to fight terrorism.
What got you to this movie industry?
I am not in this profession only to make money. I am here because this is a great medium and I am here for 40 years because I can use this medium to try and do something. In between all that I do get to work in films like Welcome which I do. But the irony is that unfortunately people like films like Welcome more than movies which have a message.
You have played a policeman in so many films and tried to uphold the dignity of the police every time you wore the uniform…
If there are 100 policemen, there may be one person who is corrupt. The others are actually trying to protect us using a mere lathi. After our parents, it is the cops who are protecting us. I have always tried to portray the good cop in my career. I have fought with a lot of people from the film industry, but I do not have enemies. Through this film we have tried to express the kind of respect we have for the police force.