International titans of both the screen and stage, actors Aamir Khan of India and Sir Ian McKellen of England converged together for a chat at the Jio MAMI Film Club, a branch of the Mumbai Film Festival in association with the British Council and the NCPA. The acting legends gathered together to talk about William Shakespeare’s influence on cinema as McKellen’s experiences as an actor after coming out. Adored and loved by millions in his home country of India, Khan, for much of the interview, played the part of star fan while in the presence of McKellen.
Khan and McKellen took turns relating their experiences as actors. Khan, for his part, puzzled over the label of method actor. McKellen had this to say, via the website The Hindu, “There are people who are actors from the time they are in the cradle. I never thought that I was a naturally gifted actor. I had to work on my craft by learning and observing.” Both talked at length about their trials and tribulation as up and comers on the stage. Khan had this to share in response to McKellen’s stage reminisces about his early experiences treading the theatrical boards. From the same site –
“I spent the initial days in the backstage of this very venue with a Gujarati theatre group. One day, when one of the actors fell ill I finally got my chance to act, but in a language I didn’t know.”
McKellen went on to reveal why Shakespeare gets ruined for some people, “I have been pulled up for saying this before but I will say it again. The worst way to be introduced to Shakespeare is by reading him in textbooks within the four walls of the school, read by teachers most of who don’t understand the subject very well. It’s easier to learn Shakespeare when actors perform, experts, people like me who spend their entire lives studying his work.” As well, why the bard is still relevant in today’s society, this courtesy the website Images, “Shakespeare helps you empathise, because you can’t judge the character that you are playing. He goes right to the heart of every character; The servants are as interesting to him as the boss.”
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