Gays should have freedom to be themselves: Siddharth

February 22nd, 2008 - 9:00 am ICT by admin  

(Interview)
By Subhash K. Jha
Mumbai, Feb 22 (IANS) “Rang De Basanti” actor Siddharth says he is ready to play a gay role because he feels sexual orientation is a natural and personal choice. Siddharth, who has just done Vishal Bharadwaj’s “Blood Brothers” and is busy with Chandan Arora’s “Striker”, said: “As an actor I play roles based on reality. Sexual orientation is a natural and personal choice. I see no reason for it to affect my decision to accept a project.”

“I have close friends who are gay, and they are as intelligent and caring, if not more, than my heterosexual friends. I think it’s time we started respecting them and giving them their much-deserved freedom to just be themselves,” said the actor, according to whom India is a homophobic country.

Excerpts from an interview:

Q: What prompted you to accept Vishal Bharadwaj’s “Blood Brothers” as your follow-up to “Rang De Basanti” in Hindi?

A: In the year following “Rang De Basanti”, I went back to Hyderabad and did two hugely successful Telugu films. I decided to take a break for six months and travel. That’s when Vishal called. I worked on the film because of the cause it stood for and also because I was excited about working with Vishal Bharadwaj and the Oscar-winning cinematographer Guillermo Navarro. I am now busy with my most exciting film till date, “Striker” with director Chandan Arora. I choose films based on my convictions, and take my association with them very seriously.

Q: Bharadwaj tells me that many leading actors in Mumbai are extremely wary of stepping into HIV territory. What made you so sure of this project?

A: I am not concerned with how other actors are functioning. I was the 15th actor considered for “Rang De…” As for this film, my creative processes made it impossible to refuse the kind of work it offered.

Q: How much do you concern yourself with issues other than cinema, including AIDS?

A: Having done work with leading NGOs in the field I was fully aware of the topic and its gravity. Other than that, there is only so much more I can do as an actor. AIDS awareness and education are areas that concern me most.

Q: Bharadwaj says you’re a unique actor. What is your take on him as a director? Would you like to do a full feature with him?

A: Vishal Bharadwaj as a director is first human and emotional and only then is he a technician. This makes working with him a very warm and comfortable experience. It made me able to go that extra step for his film. As for working with him again, actors lead a passive existence and need to wait for somebody else to take the first step in order to get work. Vishal and I will work again depending on his writing and how it appeals to me at that time.

Q: Have you seen the other three AIDS films in Mira Nair’s bouquet? What do you think of them?

A: I loved Santosh Sivan’s piece “Prarambh” that starred my dear friend Prabhu Deva. It was the most relevant and ‘impactful’ piece in the omnibus.

Q: You play a heterosexual man who suspects he has AIDS. Would you be willing to play a gay man who’s tested HIV positive?

A: I think we are a homophobic country and I believe the media’s insensitive sensationalisation of the issue is largely responsible for this. As an actor I play roles based on reality. Sexual orientation is a natural and personal choice. I see no reason for it to affect my decision to accept a project.

I have close friends who are gay, and they are as intelligent and caring as, if not more than, my heterosexual friends. I think it’s time we started respecting them and giving them their much-deserved freedom to just be themselves.

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