Saturday, 21 March 2015

In Conversation with Olivier Lafont

Reviews, Vol I, Issue III
Interviewed by Himanshu Shekhar Choudhary, Editor-in-Chief, Reviews

Olivier Lafont who garnered lots of attention for his role in 3 Idiots as Suhas Tandon is showing more of his talent with the publication of his novel 'Warrior' by Penguin. We are glad to feature an interesting conversation with him in our magazine.
Lafont is a multitalented and versatile personality who writes fiction, feature film screenplays, and editorial pieces, but also acts in feature films, endorses some of India’s most popular brands on television, and lends his voice to many media in many languages. A French polyglot, Lafont pursues his eclectic interests at the highest standards having worked with some of India’s most acclaimed directors on films like 3 IDIOTS, Guzaarish and two Hollywood films, and continuing in the same vein with his new novel coming out with Penguin India. He is a familiar face due to his work in over 70 adverts on television.

HS: Actor, model, screenplay writer, voice over artist, director, producer and now an author. How did you recognize all of them in you? 
Olivier: For me the common thread in all these is being a storyteller. I started writing at a very young age, although I think my passion for stories preceded even that. I developed a passion for acting a little later. In university I did my BAs in English Literature and in Acting, and from there I moved back to Mumbai, where I was able to cultivate this large variety of interests professionally.

HS: Living a hectic life, playing so many roles; writing was not something new to you, but how did you think of writing a novel? How did the idea come to your mind?  
Olivier: I’ve been writing for quite some time, and writing a novel was a very natural part of my creative life. ‘Warrior’ was originally a feature film script I wrote when I came back to India from university, more than a dozen years ago. I wanted to write an Indian film that would be on the same scale as the special effects blockbusters that were coming out of Hollywood then. So with that canvas in mind, I created a story that delved in Indian mythology but that would be new, modern, and authentic.

HS: You have been in India since the age of 7. How Indian is your recently released book Warrior? 
Olivier: It’s completely Indian in its setting, culturally and geographically, but universal in theme and structure.

HS: Why didn't Warrior happen in French, your mother tongue? Are you planning any translation/s of this novel? 
Olivier: I learned French and English at the same time in my home, so both are my native tongues. My family moved from France to Delhi and I attended the American Embassy School there, so the majority of my education was in English, both as a young writer and actor. I just continued in that vein, since I’ve lived mainly in English-speaking countries.
I’d love for ‘Warrior’ to be translated into French and other languages. As of now the focus is on ‘Warrior’ in English in India.

HS: Which of your roles relaxes you the most, although, all the roles you live in, are of your choice?
Olivier: Writing is the most relaxing, since I do it privately, in an environment of my choice, and as and when I like.

HS: It would be intriguing to know the meaning of life from such a multidimensional being alike you.
Olivier: The meaning of life for me is passion. That means, for example, being with people I love, doing the things I love. I systematically avoid anything that doesn’t have passion in it, whether it’s my work life or my personal life.

HS: What is the first next treat for your fans and followers coming from your side just after your novel?
Olivier: I’m still deciding what’s next, but I’ve just written a feature film script, the first one with myself as the main character. It’s a really fun comedy, and I’m looking for a producer to partner with on it. It could be an Indian film or an international one, so the producer could also be Indian or international.

HS: Multiculturalism is not a new term to you; it has touched your life very closely. Did this made you a better human or was it disturbing?
Olivier: I think my multicultural background and experiences have been mostly constructive. The move from France to India when I was seven years old was difficult to deal with, naturally, but that’s circumstantial - the positive effect of moving to this amazing country that is India cannot be overemphasized. Multiculturalism, when embraced, can only make you grow.

HS: Do you agree, we write with a purpose? What has been your purpose of writing; entertainment or something more? 
Olivier: I don’t think there’s such a thing as purposeless writing. All writing has some purpose because it’s expression, and all expression comes from a need to say something.
My purpose in writing is varied. I have a great desire to entertain, of course, which is why ‘Warrior’ has adventure and drama and heroism. That’s my external purpose. Internally, however, I write to live the stories, to learn through my writing, to grow intellectually and spiritually.

HS: Your novel Warrior was recently shortlisted for the Tibor Jones South Asia Prize. It would have been thrilling, of course. But what thrills you the most?
Olivier: Success and winning in all its forms. Knowing your readers got exactly what you intended, or watching your audience laugh or react at the precise place you want them to, that’s thrilling.

HS: At last, we would like to have few words from you for the budding and struggling talents around us. 
Olivier: Perseverance without purpose is useless and frustrating - know exactly what you’re aiming to do, and why you’re doing it.

HS: Thank you very much for being with us. We wish you tremendous success in all your journeys. 
Lafont at his book launch

Connect with Olivier Lafont on Facebook | Twitter | 
Buy Warrior via Amazon

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