Patel was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor award at this year’s Oscars for his role in “Lion,” the tale of an Indian boy adopted by Australians who sets out to find his long-lost family.
Patel was speaking at the Chivas Icon awards ceremony in Dubai, where he was honored for his #Lionheart campaign, which works with underprivileged children in India and elsewhere.
Here are excerpts of his interview with Reuters:
Q: We’re seeing countries across the world close borders – what do you make of it all?
A: Well I’m a product of immigrants. So if you ask me about migration or integration or freedom to travel within borders I’m very pro-that…
There are voices of division, divisive voices and negative voices. But through our art and films such as “Lion” and many other films this year – “Moonlight” for instance – we can break down those barriers of prejudice.
Q: You’ve spoken before about your issues with being typecast into roles, how big a problem is it for you?
A: That is something that actors such as myself have to constantly try and defend, you know just playing who we are…
I feel really proud of being able to be a part of representing a diverse cinema and that’s breathing life into diverse stories so that people that look like myself have something to aspire to on screen.”
Q: What’s the motivation behind your #Lionheart campaign?
A: There are 80,000 children that go missing on the streets of India every year, and there are about 11 million children in total on the streets. And what we’re doing is breathing life into one of those stories.
Q: Your next film looks at the Mumbai terror attacks. Are you worried about how it might be received?
A: That story in particular really affected me because at the end of “Slumdog Millionaire” we danced on this train platform… And during those attacks you know a gunman walked into that station and unloaded an AK 47 (assault rifle) on to hundreds of travelers…
So when there were talks of a story going to be made, a film going to be made I really wanted to be a part of breathing life into that and making sure it is done with a level of humanity and sincerity.