Oscar-winning British actor-filmmaker Ben Kingsley is all praise for Indian women directors Nandita Das and Leena Yadav. But he now wants to make his own film in India instead of doing more Bollywood movies.
“I’d like to make a film of my own in India, (but) you are not going to see me in a mainstream Bollywood film,” Kingsley, 66, who stars as a mathematical genius in Yadav’s “Teen Patti”, told IANS over phone from London.
“I do intend to hopefully produce and star in my own film in India. We are having some progress on that. Rather than creating offers, I am creating my own work in India which to me is very satisfying,” he added.
Drawing a similarity between director Yadav and Lord Attenborough whose film “Gandhi” was based in India and fetched Kingsley an Oscar, he said: “All good directors have one particular quality in common.
“Both Yadav and Attenborough have a deep respect and obsession for actors. This is where they are not different. They are remarkably similar. I think their manner on the set is excellent.”
Kingsley has teamed up with Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan in “Teen Patti” that tells the story of two genius mathematicians who apply the formula of probability on the card tables. However, he regrets he couldn’t shoot in India.
“I was hoping that my scenes might be in India, but all my scenes were in the UK. (But) It did give me an opportunity to work with the best in Indian cinema and to see the rhythm of work… It was a kind of delightful experiment in perhaps re-entering the Indian subcontinent after being away for too long.”
In real life, the Hollywood veteran is not so good at cards.
“I am always asking people to remind me of the rule. I always pick up a card in my hand and say, ‘what does that mean?’ So I completely give the game away.
“I do recall that as a child at school, learning my multiplication tables that I did the fastest in the class which got me prizes at school for being a little boy extremely quick at mathematics.”
“Mathematical patterns in life and science do fascinate me, but I haven’t kept company of mathematicians, but it is something that I find attractive.”
He says he loves working with women directors.
“I find a female director does things in a way, which is an exception. Now you have another great Indian film director – Nandita Das. That’s another female director. I like female directors. They have a different picture of life and they use the camera in a different way. They tell stories in a different way.”
He worked with Spanish director Isabel Coixet in “Elegy” and Kari Skogland for “Fifty Dead Men Walking”.
“I’m looking forward to working with more. I’d like to work with her (Nandita Das) as an actor and also as a director.”
About Indian films, he said: “You have very distinct styles of cinema. You have your popular Bollywood movies which are loved by the massive Indian diaspora. When I was travelling recently in London, my driver was Indian. I asked him if he had seen ‘Brick Lane’, ‘After The Rain’, ‘The Namesake’, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. He said we don’t watch these films when we sit down together and as a family what we can watch together are the Bollywood films.
“So your filmmaking is perceived in different ways in the Western world. One is for the Indian diaspora, which we call mainstream Bollywood. Then there are other new films that are coming out of India. They have great popularity among Western audiences.
“Among the Western audience I would say ‘Brick Lane’ is popular and I would say ‘The Namesake’ by Mira Nair is popular. Mira Nair has an interesting following in the world,” he said.