The death of the theatre and film veteran actor Lalit Behl has saddened many of his colleagues and juniors. Amit Sial who played Lalitji’s son in the stunning Titli (directed by Lalit’s son Kanu Behl) says, “I knew him personally both as a human being and an actor. He was remarkable in both the roles. I spent considerable time with him both during the shooting of Titli and even when we were not shooting. Adding to my bereavement is the fact that he was the father of my dear friend (filmmaker) Kanu Behl. The death has hit me really hard.”
The extremely gifted Adil Hussain played Lalit Behl’s son in the father-son story about mortality and its inevitability Shubashish Bhutiani’s Mukti Bhavan. The two actors—if we may call them that—discarded their skills to surrender themselves unconditionally to the young director’s vision. Lalil Behl and Adil Hussain ,play with effortless energy against one another as father and son.Adil as an actor never ceases to invoke admiration for just being there without trying to impress.This is what makes his performance so impressive.
Adil remembers his screen father with much reverence and affection. “We shot Mukti Bhavan entirely in Varanasi. During the shooting we became really close. I had lost my father recently and during the shooting of Mukti Bhavan I formed a real father-son bond with Lalitlji. The film was about his preparation to die. I often wonder what it feels like to know you are close to death. My mother is over 90 and she has lost all her friends. Thoughts of mortality are close to death. I often thought about death while shooting for Mukti Bhavan. I sought answers from international philosophers. They had no answers from me.So I turned to Indian philosophers, mainly Aurobindo, and they helped me get a lot of answers.”
Adil says he has always applied Stanislavski’s 5 ‘W’s to his career and life: who am I? Where am I? Why am I here?When am I here? What do I want?
Says Adil, “To these five Stanislavski’s ‘W’s I have added one more : where am I going? During Mukti Bhavan Lalitji and I often discussed this question. In a way we spend all our life playing roles. Shakespeare said that. But our philosophers said it before him.”
During the shooting of Mukti Bhavan Adil found many answers the puzzle of life and death. “Lalitji and I discussed mortality . It was the only thing on our minds. I was amazed by his discipline as an actor. The director was merely 24. Lalitji took instruction from the director like an obedient child. His enthusiasm for every scene was infectious. The discipline came from years of experience in theatre.”
Image source: Instagram/oyerjalok, SpotboyE archives
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