'The conversations about inclusivity are picking up; I am having fun in Hollywood,' says Death On The Nile actor Ali Fazal

Ali Fazal talks about Death On The Nile, working with Kenneth Branagh and his future in Hollywood

Ayesha Tabassum Published :  18th February 2022 10:41 AM   |   Published :   |  18th February 2022 10:41 AM
Ali Fazal

Ali Fazal

With his latest outing, Death On The Nile, Ali Fazal has once again demonstrated why he is one of the most in-demand Indian actors in Hollywood. Part of an enviable ensemble that includes names such as Gal Gadot, Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Ridley Scott, Tom Bateman, and Kenneth Branagh (also the director), Ali stands strong with his portrayal of Andrew Katchadourian. The actor plays the role of Linnet Ridgeway-Doyle’s (Gadot) cousin and lawyer. The movie has been received well, and Ali too has been showered with praises for his performance.

When we caught up with Ali on the day of the film’s release, he expressed his happiness that the movie got a theatrical release. “I am glad it’s finally come out now, after so long! We shot it some 50 years ago,” he jokes. The film was shot over two months in England in 2019. “It was in early 2019 when Kenneth Branagh approached me after seeing my work. He had worked with Judy Dench a lot, so I guess he had seen Victoria and Abdul. I recorded a scene for him on my mobile phone. Then I flew down to London and discussed the character with him. The original movie (from 1978) had George Kennedy play the role. For this version, they were casting a person of colour and also someone younger. So, I was cast as cousin Andrew instead of uncle Andrew. It was interesting to dabble with this new approach,” he recalls.

Breaking barriers
Ali has started shooting for his next film Khufiya with Vishal Bhardwaj. The actor has worked his way up with some unique roles and thought-provoking films. He can neither be categorised as a commercial hero nor is he the product of art-house cinema. His selectiveness has helped him consolidate his position, and his Hollywood escapades put him on the global map. The artiste says he never followed a set path to get to where he is, “I have been part of some great work, but I don’t think I have done my best work in India. Now I am working with one of my favourite directors, Vishal ji, so I am really excited about it. But the search and quest will always continue, whether here or outside. The conversations about diversifying casts and inclusivity are picking up and I am having fun at this stage in Hollywood. I am testing waters. The significant roles are yet to come. But I am not complaining, I am enjoying this. I am glad that I can bring what I want to the table, and not become part of a system, and bow down to a system.”

He says it is about not choosing the first thing that is offered to him, and it’s not about having someone who will mentor and guide him. “All my life, I kept looking for a Godfather and a mentor, then I realised that I have to train myself to be my own mentor and I think this has worked in my favour. When I say ‘system,’ I am referring to a template that people stick to — you follow it and you will become a star or you follow this route to Hollywood. This is wrong, we are all unique people and have our own path to follow,” explains the actor.

Keeping it real
This candidness makes Ali stand out in the crowd. Whether it’s being connected to his roots, flaunting his evolved ‘Indianness’ or persevering to be on par with other international artistes, he is unafraid of sharing the truth about his journey openly. “As an Indian, when you are considered to be part of such a diverse cast you need to remain consistent. You have to keep the Englishness alive. We all just fit in and that was really amazing,” says the actor who recently shot with Hollywood actor Gerard Butler for Kandahar, an action thriller by Ric Roman Waugh.

On homeground, Ali and his girlfriend Richa Chadha surprised the audience with their appearance in the web series Call My Agent: Bollywood. Both the actors played themselves, and the episode featuring them was one of the highlights of the show, which has garnered a mixed response. Ali says he had a blast showcasing his lesser-known side to the audience. “I love comedy and we managed to pull it off. I enjoyed shooting it! Richa and I are the antitheses of all our versions on screen. We are clumsy individuals in real life,” he enthuses.

The duo was supposed to get married sometime in 2021, but the plans were put on hold. “Now only time will tell when we will g e t hitched. We feel bad that everyone keeps asking us, and we feel like we owe them an answer. But we have too much on our plates. We started our own production house (Pushing Button Studios) and the first film is taking all our time. We will start production this year. Hopefully, we will also get married soon. We are very happy together,” he signs off.

Death On The Nile is in theatres now

ayeshatabassum@ newindianexpress.com