Confessions of an illiterate!

Illiterate, what else? To read now a book published way back in 1991 and rave!

 Al Pacino: A life on the wire by Andrew Yule. Life on the wire signifying huge risks. Am not convinced of the appropriateness of the title. It is not as if Al Pacino was always teetering on the edge, though he was indeed risking a lot by choosing to stay away from Hollywood at will. Am not much of a film buff either. I picked up the book at a rental library only out of curiosity.

 Oh what an experience it turned out to be. This is to heartily recommend the book to everyone. What a great character. It was difficult for me to imagine that a US film actor could be so indifferent to wealth, so informal, so easy-going, modest, almost self-effacing, turning down offers right, left and centre, going back to the theatre at the slightest opportunity. Fame sits so lightly on him, though he is acutely conscious of the adulation he was and is still receiving. 

He keeps saying only in theatre there is unlimited scope to experiment, to realize yourselves.  Occasionally our Tamil actors like Sivaji too have said so, but how sincerely they felt it that way, that’s open to question. Whereas Al Pacino seeks to stage plays even after Godfather. His dedication is so touching, getting under the skin of the characters he played, so much so during the making of a film he refused to interact with the villain off the sets. Playing a gangster or a gay, the kind of research he undertakes is mindboggling.

Perhaps while many western actors could develop that kind of dedication, his almost total lack of greed or any tendency to flaunt is indeed heartening. That someone from the tinsel world, a seemingly soulless Darwinian jungle, could look for fulfillment only in his or her chosen vocation, is almost incredible.

 I say yes to film offers only because I get tired of saying no, he says. That could be a bit put on, but rejecting offers time and again despite the huge money dangled before him Al Pacinio comes off as a great person. There are some shades of our very own Rajnikanth, but of course I don’t mean in terms of acting!

 What also impressed me most was the way many critics tore into him,  refusing to be overwhelmed by his reputation. The biographer too cites many such withering attacks on the actor, notwithstanding his admiration for his subject.

There were quite a few gems spread all across the book –

 Guilt is a useless feeling – Marlan Brando

 A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or whats a heaven for? – Godfather III

 Revolution is so idiotic that it makes me wonder if it wasn’t chewed to bits in the editing lab by a gang of mice (or studio executives, which is often the same thing, only worse.) Kids staging a Fourth of July paeant couldn’t come up with anything this hilariously bad.-  a critic

 Only action film that becomes an allegory of impotence – a critic

 When you get the urge to act, lie down.

 Dealing with fame is just too exhausting. Everyone seems to want a piece of you. Strangers want to hold you in conversation. Girls come up to you in restaurants and kiss you full on the mouth while your mouth is full of food. You think that sounds good, huh? Well, believe me, the novelty soon wears off.

Whoever can lay her or his hands on the book, go for it quick. Otherwise you are missing something in life.

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