A man of many quirks: Ali Fazal on the importance of costume design

Ali Fazal on how he got into the mind of someone who’s dealing with the psychological condition of hikikomori for his role in the Netflix film, House Arrest and various quirks that he has

Heena Khandelwal Published :  15th November 2019 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  15th November 2019 12:00 AM

Ali Fazal

BE IT BOLLYWOOD, Hollywood, television or OTT platforms, Ali Fazal has done it all. In his career spanning a little over a decade, which started with a special appearance in the Indian-American film The Other End of the Line, he also played a small but significant role of Joy Lobo in 3 Idiots. In the years since, he has had more misses than hits, but slowly, he carved a niche for himself with impressive performances in Fukrey (2013) and Happy Bhag Jayegi (2016). His Hollywood appearances include Furious 7 (2015), Victoria & Abdul (2017) and upcoming crime thriller Death on the Nile (2020) that also features Wonder Woman’s Gal Gadot. After surprising audiences with his role of Guddu Bhaiya in Amazon Prime’s web-series Mirzapur (2018), Ali returns to the web with a Netflix Original film, House Arrest, where he plays the leading role of a man who locks himself at home and doesn’t venture out even when he watches his car getting stolen! However, his confinement becomes a comedy of errors as the world refuses to leave him alone. Ahead of the release of the film, we ask him about the quirky ways with which he gets into the skin of the character. Excerpts:

Q: What attracted you about House Arrest?
Our directors — Shashanka Ghosh and Samit Basu. There was something unique and strange about the script, it was complicated but had a lot of love. Shashanka had conceived this idea a few years ago, and he had then run it by me, and then he got busy with something and I got busy with something else, and it didn’t happen. Somehow then, the world came together, Netflix stepped in, and it happened.

Q: We heard that there is a connection you have with your costumes. What is it?
For my parts, everything that I ever do or did, the costume is key. I would sit with the costume department for hours and sometimes, I’d even go through all the costumes. This one was easy because there is only one costume. It’s almost like a second skin to me.

A still from House Arrest featuring Ali Fazal and Shriya Pilgaonkar

Q: And, you also make a playlist…
Yes, I make a playlist for every project of mine. It’s almost like a background score that plays one after the another. The playlist is usually a mixed bag of some instrumentals, and some symphonies…

Q: Take us through your preparation for this role.
I went a day before we began the shoot, just to get the mapping right in my head. I sat and went over it again and again. The reason I did this is because if I tell you to pick something from the drawer, I am not going to look at the drawer and say it, because I should know where it is, since it is my house. It is important to know the house and let it speak to you. So, yes, that’s one thing I wanted to be certain about.

Q: Your character confines himself to the house. How did you get into the psyche?
The thing is that it is your own psyche, so there is no reference that you can take. You have to respond to the voices in your head, you have to be very open and empathise with everything. So, during the period when I shot this film, I was just sensitive and very emotional. I could cry at a snap of the fingers. I am not crying in the movie, but it was me in general. When you are on house arrest, which is not normal, you don’t listen to too many things unless you watch TV or something. There was no method to it as I didn’t know how to approach it. It was almost like being in the dark.

Q: How did Death on the Nile happen?
I auditioned for it sometime last year. It got pushed, I had even forgotten about it. The announcement came very late, but it was a nice surprise. It is a stellar cast to be a part of…

Q: Lastly, how do you manage to do it all — Hollywood, Bollywood and OTT platforms?
It is difficult, but it is a good problem. I only wish to have more time in a year.

House Arrest streams on Netflix today

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