December 2 2016
Soap star gets star treatment from film legend…
IF YOU SEE THE FILM “Snowden”, which opens next week in the UK, you may well notice a very familiar face (on UK telly and our social media feeds too).
Bhasker Patel, one of the stars of ITV’s award-winning soap “Emmerdale” features in the Oliver Stone directed movie and has a story to tell about that.
He has been in the popular soap – which has an audience of between five and six a half million – since 2011 and plays well-to-do business figure and family man, Rishi Sharma.
In “Snowden”, Bhasker plays a pivotal character and one that the actor believes set the real Edward Snowden on the path that he eventually took.
Snowden basically blew the whistle on US government snooping. Crudely, he revealed that the US Government had access to every citizens’ emails – in clear contravention of its own Constitution. For some, he is a hero, for others, a traitor.
The real Snowden also disclosed a lot of other classified material in regards to US spying activities and now lives in exile in Russia.
Patel plays international banker Marwan Al-Kirmani and is introduced to Snowden (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) through his girlfriend Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley).
Patel told www.asianculturevulture.com: “It was a tremendous honour to work with Oliver Stone.
“It was a really good experience. We filmed on location in Munich and I went out there a few times (from the UK).
“He was very relaxed with me – he asked whether we needed to rehearse before and he gave me time to prepare.
“We would shoot and he would say, ‘Come and watch it. What do you think?’
“I knew it didn’t work for him, so I would say, ‘Can I try something?’ With other actors, he knew exactly what he wanted from them, but with my character he allowed me to improvise, I was absolutely honoured.”
Stone is a Hollywood heavyweight (though he mainly works outside the studio system, and this particular film which he also wrote, is financed with European money), and has been responsible for some of the most iconic films to have emerged from the US in recent times – making such movies as “Wall Street”, “Born on the Fourth of July”, “JFK”, “Nixon” and more recently, “Alexander”, “World Trade Center” and “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”.
Some filming dates changed after Patel was first signed up and then it became clear he could not do both “Emmerdale” and “Snowden”.
“’Emmerdale‘ is my bread and butter and I thought, C’est La Vie,” he revealed.
He had imagined Stone would just recast for the part.
“There was a phone call to the ‘Emmerdale‘ scheduler, and they said it’s Oliver. Oliver Stone. He told them ‘Just tell me when he is free and I will shoot around him’.”
On their first meeting in Munich on location, Stone greeted him heartily.
“He came over to see me when I was having my costume fitting and he said (in colourful language we can’t repeat here)…‘You made me lose James Franco’ (who was going to play an FBI agent), but I am glad you are here!”
Patel really enjoyed working with Stone, Woodley and Levitt and remembered he almost didn’t make the first audition in London.
“I had set off quite early and then I got held on the tube and I thought this can’t be happening to me. There was some major problem. I had to tell them I might be late. In the end, it was all right but I was very worried at the time.”
He met Stone at the club, Groucho’s in Soho, London and went through a conventional auditioning process, reading a few times.
While he may not feature extensively in the film (we haven’t seen it), the part he plays is important to the narrative.
Patel explained: “I think my character gave Snowden the confidence to do what he did.
“I heard that afterwards the authorities really went for him. When the intelligence agencies found out about the meeting, they really turned his (the banker’s) life upside down.”
It’s an important scene but the banker and Snowden do not discuss anything very obvious.
“It’s quite subtle, Stone is a director who leaves you, the audience, to figure it out.
“The meeting comes at a crucial point in Snowden’s life.
“This is the guy who gives him help and he would have got there eventually, but my character provides an ‘open sesame’ moment,” believes Patel.
Snowden sought the help of journalists to get his story out to the world. Both documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras (Melissa Leo) and Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto) of The Guardian Newspaper also feature in the film.
Patel also appears in the recent Bollywood film, “Baar Baar Dekho” (‘Look Again and Again’) which stars Katrina Kaif, and Siddharth Malhotra.
Released this autumn, Patel plays a professor type figure who is something of a confidant to the academic Malhotra in the film. It was partly shot in the UK, with Glasgow University, doubling up as Cambridge University.
Patel also does voiceover and dubbing work and has an English Indian/Hindi speaking part in the Indian language release of “Alexander”, an earlier Stone film.
He has been an actor since the 1980s and started out in theatre and BBC television.
All pictures courtesy: ©BhaskerPatel
‘Snowden’ is out on general release from December 9 in the UK…