After weaving together the beautiful story of a dyslexic child in Taare Zameen Par, writer-actor Amol Gupte is now having a ball tormenting Priyanka Chopra in forthcoming film Kaminey.
"It's nice to be on another director's set. I'm a trained stage actor. I play a villain in Kaminey and this gives me a chance to test my skills in unexpected ways. I've a very dramatic role. What fabulous actors Shahid Kapur and Priyanka are! And I'm enjoying every bit of it," Amol said.
Amol said he is intrigued why director Vishal Bharadwaj chose him for the role.
"I don't know what made Vishal think of me," said Amol, who finishes his schedule for Kaminey on Friday in Hyderabad and returns to Mumbai to renew work on his recently started production house.
Not too many people know Amol played the lead in Dayal Nihalani's Guru Dakshina in the 1980s.
"I've been a part of the FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) campus films for eight years, and I've participated in 110 diploma films as actor, writer and director. I was an actor in Ketan Mehta's Holi. That's when I had met Aamir Khan first.
"For me, writing a script also entails doing the dialogues so I know what kind of performance to get from the actor. To me, every artistic tradition - from popular to folk to classical - is part of the same scheme.
"In Maharashtra, theatre and folk culture are very strong. They had very strong influences on me. I even did the costumes in Ketan Mehta's Mirch Masala. I'm as fascinated by world cinema as Indian cinema. That's why I'm happy when Taare Zameen Par goes to the Oscars."
Amol, who was billed the 'writer and creative director' of Taare Zameen Par, can't help noticing that a film which fought tooth and nail against the competitive spirit, has gone to a glamorous global competitive platform.
"Taare..., which was about how cut-throat competition smothers the creative spirit, is going from one competition to another, now to the Oscars," he remarked.
Amol has seen some of the other films that were considered as Indian entries for the Oscars.
"And the two Marathi films Tingya and Valu and the Hindi movie Mumbai Meri Jaan were fabulous. Any of these could've comfortably gone to the Oscars. So again like my Taare..., where I questioned the practice of pitching one child's talent against another, I wonder how all these films can be pitched against one another. They're so different. And so deserving, but for the sake of a wider reach, I want Taare... to win the Oscar.
"I'd be a fool to not be happy for the route that the film has taken. For me Taare Zameen Par was never an end. It was a means to taking my ideas on child welfare to a wider audience. Today, if the film is going to the Oscars I'm happy because the film gets more eyeballs.
"The Oscars is a platform for world cinema. So my ideas in the film will go wider. The film has affected attitude to parenting in India. And that's all I'm concerned with," said Amol.
He said he was happy that his film had inspired seminars on parenting.
"I made a late entry to movie making and not because the glamour attracted me. Today, I am more concerned about the conferences and seminars on parenting that my film has started than the Oscars. Taare... is a child that has gone much beyond me."
The film's producer and director Aamir Khan has not been in touch with Amol since its release.
"That's a closed chapter. But if I'm called to help in any capacity for Taare... to get into the Oscars, I'd be foolish to turn down the offer. Any attention the film gets will further my fight for children's rights.
His next project is also on children's issues.
"My next film India Item goes into more children's concerns. The last year has been spent relentlessly in making this a worthy project. But I still need a star component to make India Item commercially viable. But all the children are ready to face the camera."