Satya­jit Ray was a ge­nius: Ralph Fi­ennes

Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - Hindustan Times (Jaipur) - City - - Front Page - Kavita Awaasthi RALPH FI­ENNES

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Iam in­stinc­tively drawn to our ev­ery­day hu­man sto­ries,” says English ac­tor and di­rec­tor Ralph Fi­ennes. A vet­eran of the stage and screen, he is fa­mous for his Os­car-nom­i­nated roles in Schindler’s List (1993) and The English Pa­tient (1996), as well as his work as Lord Volde­mort in The Harry Pot­ter films, but the 55-yearold feels that act­ing never gets easy. In an in­ter­view, he speaks to us from Italy about Satya­jit Ray’s ge­nius, dark roles, and dig­i­tal con­tent.

Your role as a Nazi of­fi­cer in Schindler’s List had a huge im­pact on your ca­reer. How did it af­fect you? I was at the re­ceiv­ing end of at­ten­tion and cu­rios­ity that I hadn’t ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore. The film was nom­i­nated for a num­ber of Os­cars, which isn’t on your mind when you sign up. It was a suc­cess­ful film, crit­i­cally and com­mer­cially, I believe. The me­dia fo­cus was a big change in my life. Such at­ten­tion can be dif­fi­cult. There is a cu­rios­ity about you that you of­ten don’t want.

To­day, stream­ing me­dia and TV series have bet­ter con­tent than main­stream cin­ema. What do you think about the shift? It’s a sad thing. Yes, there are good qual­ity tele­vi­sion series out there, but I am not a fan of never-end­ing sto­ries. I feel that a story should have a co­her­ent arc. I can’t un­der­stand a series that goes on just be­cause it’s suc­cess­ful. I can feel the writer strain­ing to main­tain a suc­cess­ful series. They have to dis­tort the nar­ra­tive to keep it go­ing. I like go­ing to the cin­ema, sit­ting in a room with peo­ple and feel­ing an ex­pe­ri­ence with them. My taste and in­cli­na­tion is for films, or maybe, a mini-series.

You’ve vis­ited In­dia as an am­bas­sador for UNICEF. Tell us about your time in the coun­try? I’ve been to Ma­ha­rash­tra and Mad­hya Pradesh. I had a great time in Mad­hya Pradesh and vis­ited many fortresses and cas­tles, which was a spe­cial ex­pe­ri­ence. I even went to Kha­ju­raho and loved it. I’d love to visit the south­ern parts of In­dia.

Have you watched In­dian films? I am a big fan of Satya­jit Ray. I feel he’s a ge­nius. The hu­man­ity of his films stands high, along­side Ja­panese filmmaker (Ya­su­jiro) Ozu, as well as (Rus­sian filmmaker An­drei) Tarkovsky. I think they are the great mas­ters of film, es­pe­cially the sec­ond half of the 20th cen­tury. I don’t think we see such qual­ity now. That was the great pe­riod of film­mak­ing.

Is act­ing an eas­ier craft now? Act­ing never gets easy. Tech­ni­cal ex­pe­ri­ence helps, but the chal­lenges re­main the same. You’re al­ways look­ing for some as­pect of hu­man truth in your per­for­mance. Act­ing is kind of a mys­tery, as there’s no know­ing how [to do it right]. You hope to work with like-minded peo­ple and make a film you believe in, even if some el­e­ments around the ac­tor are con­tra­dict­ing or in op­po­si­tion.

The hu­man­ity of Ray’s films stands high, along­side Ya­su­jiro Ozu and An­drei Tarkovsky. AC­TOR

PHOTO: IANS PHOTO: WASEEM GASHROO/HT

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