Italian actor Francesco Clemente Giuseppe Sparaner is famously known as Franco Nero in the world of cinema. The 76-year-old superstar is especially popular for his role as the lead character in Sergio Courbucci Spaghettti’s film Django (1966), in which he plays a gunfighter who hauls a coffin with him wherever he goes. He later reprised the role in Nello Rossati’s Django Strikes Again in 1987.

In 2012, Nero made a short appearance in the film Django Unchained in one scene alongside Jamie Foxx, who portrays the character of Django Freeman in the film. In this scene, Nero plays the role of the original Django, an Italian mandingo fighter’s manager.

Nero has performed over 200 roles in films and television programmes in Italy and elsewhere, and has proved his mettle in a variety of genres ranging from action to drama and musicals. Some of his popular films include The Bible: In the Beginning (1966), Camelot (1967), The Mercenary (1968), Tristana (1970), Confessions of a Police Captain (1971), Die Hard 2 (1990), John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017).

Forever Blues (2005) is considered a landmark of world cinema. It also marked the directorial debut of Nero. The film has been written by him and stars him as Luca. The story is said to be loosely based on the drama of the same name by Enrico Bernard.

Forever Blues, which at the time of its release garnered wide critical acclaim both within Italy and outside, was screened recently at the Muscat International Film Festival, and was much appreciated by cinema lovers. Nero, too, was present during the screening of the film.

He spared a few moments from his busy schedule to have a conversation with Guardian 20.

When asked about his experience of the Muscat film festival, he said, “It’s a great experience being here in Muscat. I have enjoyed the festival very much. The opening ceremony was very nice. I especially liked the performances of Indian saxophone artiste [Lavanya], and the Russian jaw harpist, Olena Uutai. I also had the opportunity to meet many people and felt very comfortable. This is my first ever visit to Muscat and I enjoyed every moment of it.”

A still from the film Django Unchained with Nero on the right.

Nero has now been a part of the Italian film industry and global cinema for over five decades. When we quizzed him about the kind changes that have come about in movies these days, he told us, “Back in the day, there was a lot of stress on human emotions in the movies. That’s not the case now. There are special effects now, which I don’t like.”

Besides hating overproduced films that have nothing but special effects to offer, Nero is also discouraged by the turn away from human-interest stories in contemporary cinema. He continued,  “Today’s films have less of human stories. This new trend is not good for  cinema. I think films should be made around stories of human beings and relationships. Moreover, television is also killing cinema. Earlier, people used to go to cinema halls.”

While the iconic actor isn’t much familiar with Indian cinema, he talked to us about his visit to the country. “I don’t know much about Indian cinema though I have been to Madras [Chennai] and Mysore about 20 years ago,” he said. “I have watched Mira Nair’s film Salaam Bombay and I liked that. I also had an interaction with Kabir Bedi. And I have heard a lot about Amitabh Bachchan, though I did not get a chance to meet him.”

Nero also expressed his wish to be a part of Indian cinema some day. When asked if he would like to collaborate with Indian directors, he said, “Oh yes, I would love to do an Indian movie, provided somebody comes to me with a good script. It will be quite an experience for me. If everything is good, why not? But as of now, nobody has approached me.”

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