The eyes, they say, are an actor’s most important asset.
And Tsahi Halevi, the 47-year-old Israeli actor from Fauda, the hit Israeli web series on Netflix, has a gaze so intense that the people around it attest to it.
At a reception in New Delhi on Israel’s 74th Independence Day, attended by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar among others, Halevi had the crowd cheering him on, waiting for him to sing.
The actor, who is also a songwriter and singer, sang ‘We’re going to have a good time’ in Hebrew then, dedicating a song to the friendship between the peoples of Israel and India, chose the song Kishore Kumar’s popular ‘Tere jaisa yaar kahan’ by Yaarana, starring Amitabh Bachchan, to mark 30 years of Indo-Israeli diplomatic relations. ‘I am a songwriter, musician, but I started playing with Bethlehem ( a 2013 drama film),” Halevi told The Sunday Express. And there was no turning back. Israel Defense Forces counter-terrorism special operations elite, Mista’arvim, led by Doron Kavillio played by lead actor Lior Raz.
Halevi, with his intense gaze, features in an interesting subplot as he becomes involved with Doron’s wife, Gali. With a half-smile, he also has an explanation for that: “When you can’t find the best guy, you get the guy who makes fun of his wife.” Fauda, on which many Indians have become addicted during the Covid lockdown, depicts the two-sided story of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and explores the moral dilemma of the human condition, the relativity of good and evil. In fact, Halevi’s character looks human in the series, which has earned her Indian fans on social media.
“The Indian fanbase is amazing and big. On my social media IDs they ask me how they can meet me and I find ways to meet some of them despite my busy schedule. questions. As actors, feedback from the public is important to us and you can do so in real time on social media. Sporting his signature salt and pepper beard, the actor said he handled firearms fire as part of his military service, which served him well while playing the role he was in. Others had to undergo basic training to perform in the show.
Fauda, who ran in three seasons, is now likely to release his next. He says he doesn’t know the plot for the next season. Considering that further violence had erupted between Israelis and Palestinians during the making of Fauda, did events on the ground change his view of the conflict?
“My perspective has never changed. I have kept the same values since my childhood. I believe that when the shells and missiles fall, it doesn’t matter whether you are a Muslim or a Jew. Human lives are lost. In fact, everyone could identify with Fauda because he touched on the human aspect of the conflict. Every viewer felt the characters and their lives,” he said.
Newsletter | Click to get the best explainers of the day delivered to your inbox
Mahatma Gandhi is his ideal and shaped his compassionate and optimistic worldview. “Every day I am inspired by his thought that we should pursue our actions based on how they would influence someone from afar. He used non-violence as an effective tool to get his message across. As the son of a diplomat, he traveled to many countries until he was 18 and this experience made him absorbing and open to multicultural influences He shares his experience of growing up in Egypt four years after that nation signed a peace agreement with Israel.” Beyond education, I received a first-hand lesson in humanity. I was babysitting my sister in Cairo. She started crying and I couldn’t calm her down. So I went down to the concierge of the building who was sitting around the fire with his wife. She soothed my sister and watched over her for two hours until our parents returned. You see that and realize what human connection is.
Halevi, who also starred in the thriller Hostages, said he was surprised by the popularity of his shows in India and was harassed by people in Delhi for selfies. When told that Hostages had been remade in Hindi, he said: “Maybe there is room for an Indian version of Fauda… This is my first time in India and I don’t I’ve only been here two days now, but I’m really excited to be here…I’ve always wanted to come here.”