Ali Fazal is the new kid on the block from Lucknow to be making waves in Bollywood. After his smashing performance in Bobby Jasoos with none other than super actor Vidya Balan, Ali says that he feels he is sitting on the throne of Bollywood.

In an exclusive interview with The Lucknow Observer, Ali speaks his mind about what it means to be a young Indian today.

How would you describe life of young Indians like yourself on the eve of yet another Independence Day?

Another year of us free. Do we cherish the fact that we are Indian? That is the question on my mind. Is the government controlling our life? Are we turning into what America is? On the eve of India’s Independence Day, yes I feel proud. I feel I can give my heart and soul to better something or the other in my country. I will do my best to achieve that. I act. I just feel bad that a whole lot of us out there only listen to the national anthem inside movie halls these days. It is painful for many to get up and to keep the popcorn aside and maintain a minute of silence. But on the other hand, the youth today is also smarter than before. Like we say, it is a mixed audience out there.

What does Independence Day mean to you? Is it the same feel you have like on Diwali, Holi and Eid?

No, it is not the same feel. But yes it is also a day of enjoying feelings of pride and victory. Till date I always pull out the Indian flag and the satisfaction of hoisting it up is surreal. I remember being woken up by my father in the mornings on two days of the year, on Republic Day and Independence Day.

Then together we would sit and watch the parade and speeches on television.

What does nationalism mean to you?

This is a loaded word because of a lot of history behind it from Akhand Bharat to Reliance. Hehe…and I like to think that I am a spark in the larger flame of this bonfire… crackling along with a fierce sense of belonging and patriotism…it is almost scary.

What thoughts and feelings do you go through at the mention of words like patriot and patriotism?

Like I said before, the words are like someone taking you into a planetarium and showing you a slideshow of all that we have gone through to shape the geography of this democracy. The mutiny of 1857, the rise of nationalism, the plotting by the British, the divide and rule, unrest, first world war, Gandhi, Nehru, Bose…the works.. and back to times of the Mughals. We today must cherish the fact that our land has borne too many lives and histories and yet it takes a craft like Yoga to go to the West, become popular on fitness TV in Hollywood only for it to come back to India and dazzle our generation, not realising that we are still victims to the famous double trade.
Even today so many years after Independence. This is almost comical.

Do young people like yourself need icons? If yes, name someone you think is an icon for youngsters and why?

I think we need reference points. We young people hate to admit that we look up to icons. But yes, I cannot speak for others but I have admired Indira Gandhi and Adolph Hitler since I was a kid. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Bill Clinton, Lady Diana, Martin Luther, Nelson Mandela, TuPac Shakur, these are my icons. We need them because our memories have lost the power to retain things because of the mobile age. Everything is right there available. I bet you do not remember more than three phone numbers by heart. Not your fault. It takes these people and there moulds and left legacies to help us gauge the power of our values and lives and existence. We are not just an IOS or a Blackberry 9720. We need icons behind us so we can carry forward a version of this baton into the future and make a change in our own way.

What is life like in Bollywood for a Lucknow boy like yourself?

As it was in Delhi’s St. Columbus…now the same boy sits on the throne of Bollywood.

What thoughts and feelings would you like to share with other young readers in Lucknow this 15 August?

Go out, watch a movie, and celebrate life.. even if you don’t buy an Indian flag it does not mean you are any less of an Indian…let’s try and clean up the city issi bahaane…make a vow not to litter!

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