Mumbai, Jan. 8 -- Dev Patel's first film, Slumdog Millionaire (2008), put the actor on the map, but he agrees that the multiple Academy Award-winning movie was a 'double-edged sword' for him.
Post Slumdog, the actor has acted in various kinds of films, the likes of which include The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) and The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015). In an interview with HT Cafe, Dev talks about the perks of starting his film career early, and how he is proud of his name and roots.
You've been nominated for a Golden Globe award in the best supporting actor category. How does it feel?
I'm feeling a sense of gratefulness. It's great to be even nominated in this category alongside such big names (Simon Helberg and Jeff Bridges). I'm just 26 years old. So many people don't have that [recognition].
You started your career at a very young age. What were the pros and cons of such an early beginning?
I started acting when I was 15. The thing about starting out so early was that I didn't have the privilege of attending any drama schools or enrolling in an academy. I had to teach myself on the job and learn on the go with each project, and really grow as an individual. But that's an amazing experience, where you are trying to test yourself and take risks. That has inspired me. I'm so glad to have started out so early, because I have become more comfortable in front of the camera.
In the West, Bollywood is perceived to be mostly about songs and dancing. Do you think that mindset is changing ?
I think so. Now you can go to IMDB and see Aamir Khan's latest film in the top 10 list amongst massive Hollywood films, and that's truly incredible. It speaks a lot about the kind of creativity we have, and people are willing to go out there and support such films and actors too. You have to do work like Aamir, where you push the boundaries. He completely changed his body for the film and I really respect things like that.
Since your performance was praised so much, do you feel a sense of pressure to live up to people's expectations?
I think, yes. But I would say that I have that kind of expectation from myself as well. With each project, I want to keep challenging myself. I think it's a blessing that an Indian actor like me, is in Hollywood because, you can only go as far as the scripts that you are given. And in this case [Lion], I was blessed. It had such a profound script and it had so much gravitas. It was different from cliche roles like playing someone's best friend.
When you compare Bollywood with the west, what differences do you find in the levels of fandom in both industries?
I would say that there are no other celebrities like your three Khans [Shah Rukh, Aamir, and Salman]. I didn't find the kind of hero worship that happens here [In Bollywood] in Hollywood or in London, UK. But I think now, it's [fandom] pretty much the same everywhere, because of the web and massive interaction between a star and his or her fans. Internet and phones have made everything a lot more inclusive.
Do you feel a sense of responsibility to represent Indian culture as an actor in the West?
One hundred percent. And with my films I'm introducing them [people in the West] to the country my ancestors are from. I didn't change my name as I'm proud of it. I'm lucky that people embraced my name after Slumdog Millionaire. Some people change their name to hide their heritage so that they can get more work. We are at a stage now in 2017 where this pattern is changing. You have Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra doing films here and that's a beautiful space to be in.