Dubai: It’s interesting how life works out. Decades ago, Indian actor Ali Fazal was a boy who spent every summer in Saudi Arabia with a Muslim family and dreamed of one day making a Hollywood movie in a faraway place. Little did he know that one day he would be starring in a Hollywood blockbuster filmed in the same country that raised him. Kandahar is the first international film to be shot in Saudi Arabia’s historic AlUla region, starring the modern action icon. Gerard Butler.

“It was such a pleasant surprise. I never thought I would be shooting a film in Saudi Arabia, where I spent most of my childhood. It’s beautiful how times change,” Fazal told Arab News.

“It was one of the most welcoming experiences of my career. “I was going to be there, but I’ve never seen a place like AlUla in my life. It’s such a beautiful and exotic place and I was so happy to call it home for those three months.” he continues.

Fazal felt at home in many ways. He has succeeded the late Irrfan Khan to the throne as the greatest actor to cross over Hollywood and Bollywood today. Filled with actors and crew from all over the world after their outstanding performances in Fast and Furious 7, Victoria and Abdul, Death on the Nile and Amazon’s acclaimed action series Mirzapur It became his trademark to be active on the set of .

Ali Fazal co-stars with Gal Gadot in “Death on the Nile.” (attached)

That’s not to say his experience at Kandahar hasn’t taught him a lot, though. He’s no stranger to hands-on fight scenes in “Mirzapur,” but working with the same team that produced Butler’s films “The Angel Has Fallen” and “Greenland” takes things to another level. pulled up. Fazal had to make an effort to match the experience of everyone around him.

“In the end, I arrived in AlUla 25 days earlier than the rest of the cast to learn how to ride a motorcycle in an environment that is so different from anything I’ve worked in before. I follow Jerry Butler for most of the film. Yes, but I knew how to ride a bike, but riding a bike in the desert was a whole new hobby,” says Fazal.

Fazal and Butler are bitter rivals onscreen, but offscreen they share every meal at the Banyan Tree Resort in AlUla, and Butler’s playfulness creates a strong bond between each cast member that continues to this day. .

“[Butler]will get you in the company in no time. It’s easy for him to just come in and do his job and leave, but he made a point of defending us all.” It takes a lot of humility and sincerity.He came to me every day and said, “I saw your rush and it’s very good, but you can’t go the other way.” I think I can do it too.” He always had great notes. He made the movie better, and he made me better,” says Fazal.

“At night, this small community was tight-knit, but by day, I think people in AlUla thought there was an earthquake because of the mayhem of hardcore action we were creating.” continues Fazal.

Working on a large international project has many benefits. Every time Fazal worked with the likes of Gerard Butler, Judi Dench, Stephen Frears, and Kenneth Branagh, he learned a personal lesson on how to be a better actor, a better person, and a better person than he chose. I understand what it takes to reach the pinnacle of art. .

“I keep thinking of a moment with Branagh. “He was sitting in a corner writing his next stage play. It’s diligence. He took his time. The next morning, he was nominated for seven Oscars,” says Fazal.

Gerard Butler in Kandahar. (attached)

In those moments, he confesses, it became increasingly difficult to accept project offers that didn’t come with the same content or commitment. As a result, he has become more discerning and more wary of the Bollywood limelight, but his own reluctance to become a celebrity like his peers is undeniable. I know it.

“We are running away from the vanity that has kept us in the Bollywood bubble. I am not judging people, I am judging the system itself. There is potential for it to be screened in other parts of India, and further south Malayalam and Tamil films have produced some of the world’s best films, for example at both the Oscars and Cannes. are paying attention,” Fazal added.

Fazal sees Saudi Arabia pushing itself further, and artists like Branagh and Butler pushing themselves further, all he can do is surround himself with people who do the same and work in the same places. I hope

“We don’t want to do mediocre things. Even if the economics of our respective industries separate us, that doesn’t mean that our sensibilities are suddenly dulled,” says Fazal. “Anyway, everything is competing with everything else right now. If you’re on a streaming platform, your project is next to an Oscar winner or a groundbreaking Polish new show, click You can’t cheat and get away with mediocrity You really have to get to the truth of things, the arduous, emotionally draining truth, otherwise people all over the world will ignore it.”

Fazal wants to strengthen his own efforts, but at the same time he wants to identify and raise awareness of the types of artists and performers who are committed to their work but are still underappreciated. After all, the great Irrfan Khan was able to achieve great success in both India and Hollywood before his death, but he spent decades failing to earn the respect he deserved. rice field.

“I want to defend people because no one defends an artist like us. “I’ve been ignoring it,” he says. “What we need is people who support great artists right now, not when great artists are discovered all over the world.”

Thankfully, the recognition that took Khan decades to find is now easier for Fazal. True to his word, his next project fits the mold of what he craves, first with acclaimed director Vishal Bhardwaj’s Netflix original Khufiya, then Academy Award-winning director Bill Guttentag’s film. He will be starring in “Afghan Dreamers”. A true story of a female robot team in Afghanistan.

“I want to be uncomfortable. I want to feel things I’ve never felt before. Great visions take me to places I’ve never been before and something new comes out of it.” he says. “That’s what I love. That’s where I find the greatest joy.”

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