Hall of Fame 4: The Great Leap Forward

Published On: 2012-05-31

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Hall of Fame: The Great Leap Forward

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Hrithik’s journey as an actor began well before a single film made him an irresistible star for many. He made fleeting appearances in film like Aasha in which he danced with Jeetendra, and also Aap Ke Deewane where he figured as a child artiste. But the discovery of his potential in his father’s eyes happened when Rakesh Roshan was making Bhagwan Dada in 1986, and he was on the lookout for a child artiste. He cast Hrithik in the role. As the father was to recollect in the television show Rendezvous with Simi Garewal: ”Omji (Hrithik’s grandfather) said, “lets take Duggu- we call him Duggu at home. The dad went on to add: “I went away and was watching him from far. He did this thing (kind of good-bye salute) to Sridevi and went. I said to myself, ‘how did he do that?’

That’s the time I realized that he has it in him!”

But as far as Hrithik’s serious desire to join the film industry as an actor was concerned, the first chapter was written when he had just about taken admission in the school of animation in the United States. This was when he told his father about his dreams of becoming an actor. The father had some really quick friends in the industry such as Jeetendra, Sujit Kumar and Rishi Kapoor. Papa Roshan who had been an actor himself- and without having had too many successes in that role- realized the need for having a strong supporting system for his son.

But Jeetendra could not have furnished any sort of assistance because he was busy planning the career of his son Tusshar Kapoor who also harbored serious dreams of becoming an actor. Rishi Kapoor, who had made a disastrous directorial debut with Aa Ab Laut Chalen, understood the need for taking a long break before planning anything new fir the big screen. Sujit Kumar showed a lot of zeal and promised to support Hrithik after completing his half-finished flick Champion, a Sunny Deol- Manisha Koirala starrer. With that one assurance in the pocket, papa Rakesh Roshan started out with making Kaho Na…Pyaar Hai which, history would tell us today, turned out to become of the biggest blockbusters of all times. 

But before KNPH got made, there was one thing Hrithik had to develop. Lean and lanky, he needed to have a good built, and the person whose assistance he sought was Salman Khan. What Hrithik had to say about Salman in the Simi Garewal show might sound unbelievable to many: “ So, I was training myself, and then once things got decided that I was going to be in dad’s next film…there was no time. I was skinny as hell. I was half of this, so you can imagine. I said, ‘ok, who’s the best in the business?’ the only name that popped up was Salman Khan”

He called up Salman out of the blue, and the latter did everything possible to help him out. “Along with training me, the moral support that he gave me was incredible! He was one of the few people ho really believed that I would be a ‘phenomenon’. Full of praise for his industry senior, he said: “I’ve read some still like- Salman is insecure, because I’m around! You have to see him when he’s around me, you know. He’s always pushing me, ‘what’s wrong with you? You’ve lost weight. Do this and don’t do that. He’s like a brother! He really is.” what Hrithik had to say highlights the perception and reality, since how many would actually believe that a guy who can be a potential competitor can be helped to such an extent by somebody who doesn’t need any more competition compared to what he already has?

Thanks to salman’s cooperation and his own diligence, Hrithik had a great body that he still does. But the equally crucial question of how he got chosen for KNPH, he answered most elaborately in an interview to Zee Premiere, “Dad narrated a script which he had partially written a couple of years ago. He had Salman or Shah Rukh Khan in mind for the lead but that did not work out. He had dropped the idea and moved on. To me, the hero’s character did not appear very mature. I had told dad that the character did no longer suit either Salman or Shah Rukh because they no longer looked like boys-next-door. He told me to be patient and went ahead with the script.”

“Once he had completed the script, he showed it to me but my opinion was the same. That was when my dad told me “Duggu, I am taking you on as the hero of the film,” I was stunned, totally dumbfounded. I had not expected this. I walked out of the room and went straight to mine. Suddenly I felt the weight of responsibility on my shoulders. A million emotions were coursing, through my mind. I knew, that the offer had come from Rakesh Roshan, the director, not my father.”

The actual euphoria that would ensure after KNPH released and made him a potential nemesis for the Khans of Bollywood was still some distance away. Hrithik was, in the meantime, working hard for the film not unlike the days when he “as an assistant to dad, was treated like one by him.” The actor “ slept with the crew, ate crew food, even bathed in brown water at times.” His belief that “ there must be an equation between hard work and success because if there isn’t, there’s no point.” Was driving him hard and harder to prove the point of his arrival in the industry.

Roshan junior had come a long way from the days when he was sure that he wanted to be an actor while his parents thought otherwise. Why so? “its just that parents are protective about their children. Besides, my dad went through a lot of shit as an actor before he turned producer and finally, director. I remember, at times there was no money in the house and he had to mortgage the cars. He had put everything he had in his first directorial venture.”

The film was Khudgarz and, luckily for the family, this one went to become a huge commercial success. But as Hrithik was to admit: “If the film had not worked, I shudder to think where we would be right now.” For most, the fear of not succeeding is a dissuasive dilemma. For a guy like Hrithik, it was this very feeling that was motivating him to carve a success story out of his own life in the film industry.

His confession, therefore was most candid: “that’s what is pushing me even more. I think overcoming one’s fears is an achievement in itself. I didn’t not want to act because of this fear. I would have never lived with myself or forgiven myself 30-40 years down the line, when I would have looked back and said ‘shit, I didn’t do that because I let fear get the better of me.’ God, I would have been devastated. Yes, there were times though when I wanted to go abroad and do a Masters in Business Administration or one in special effects in films so that I had something to fall back on. But my heart just did not let me do that. I knew that this is what would have given me the maximum satisfaction from life. If I could achieve this, I would have wanted nothing more from life.”

Which is why the young lad started out by becoming a third assistant to his father as he mastered all the technical details that would help him become a better acting professional when his turn came. As he has said time and again and we have informed you well- he was made to lead a simple life by a father who was a disciplinarian when it mattered. When Rakesh Roshan’s one more superhit Karan Arjun, starring the two khans, Salman and Shah Rukh was being shot, Hrithik was barely close to the two heroes, that many expected he would be.

As he was to recall: “Dad had four assistants and one of them was my age. He turned out to be a better friend of Shah Rukh that me; Shah Rukh was more with him. So I didn’t enjoy any such perks. But yes, the only perk I did enjoy what that people didn’t shun me the way any other might have been.” That was not a small perk and especially in an industry like Bollywood, but why Hrithik was blessed with such an incentive was not because he threw his weight around. The fact being that he was Rakesh Roshan’s son, people had to give him a little more importance than usual; something Hrithik could have changed had he wanted to.

That KNPH was viewed as a surefire hit the day people saw its initial rushes and spotted a new bright star on the horizon is irrefutable. What this does not mean is that everything about the film was rosy from the very outset. On the contrary, its opposite was true.” For reasons best know to her, the leading lady Kareena Kapoor walked out of the film. Dad was very hurt. Kareena and her mother Babita had differences with us. But opting out of the film was entirely their decision. We couldn’t have stopped them. Kareena is a mature girl. She knows what is good for her and what is not. Though her presence would have hiked the commercial viability of the film, I guess that was not meant to be.”

In an apocalyptic note, Hrithik continued: “We were again on the lookout for the right person. It was then that dad remembered that he had promised Amit Patel, a family friend, that he would sign his daughter whenever he would launch me. When I saw her, I gave a positive nod to dad. Something about her was extremely convincing. Amisha was signed that very minute. Despite her non-film background, she was confident of her abilities.”

The shooting of the film had been planned out most meticulously, and Hrithik used to sit down with his father and discuss the minutest of details before a scene was finally planned and shot. Even before the film went on floors the actor had extensive meetings with both choreographer Farah Khan and designer Rocky S to make sure that nothing went wrong to the extent possible. Certainly, he did not expect that his launch would tantamount the rarest of miracles, yet he tried his best towards planning everything most diligently under the benign supervision of his father.

Just one example would highlight how much introspection had gone into the creation of the flick. As Hrithik said in the interview: “In the first half, I was Rohit, an innocent guy. I had to look the guy-next-door and I mean the believable guy-next-door and not the filmi one. So I grew my hair long and wore simple clothes. I even wore kajal in my eyes as I was told that Raj uses eyes to express his emotions. In the latter half, I was Raj, a flamboyant NRI who wore trendy clothes. Unlike Raj, Rohit used his hands to emote. That was his style. In the past, we had seen double role films but this one had to be different from the rest.” The desire to prove a point, the sort of conviction necessary to make a mark in an industry in which an unceasing rat race was the only limpid reality; Hrithik left no stone unturned. The results were to astonish everybody once the film hit the marquee.

Among his costars in the film was the youth and gifted comedian Vrajesh Hirjee who, in the short role of Hrithik’s friend, had made a fair amount of impact. Vrajesh recalls how he and Hrithik had bumped into each other. “I met Hrithik for the first time at his place when I had gone to meet Rakesh Ji. I actually owe KNPH to Hrithik, as it was because of him that I got the film. He and pinkie aunty had seen me in a play All The Best and thought of casting me in the film. But he didn’t know my name. Then, Rakesh ji gave Hrithik a time span to find out about me and he did. I dint know how though. When I met him, he said ‘you are too good, man. You are fantastic, yaar.’ He seemed very excited about KNPH and that was the starting point of KNPH, just to have fun.

Vrajesh remembers that the young actor who would be a superstar soon epitomized composure on the sets of the film. “I don’t know whether Hrithik used to be nervous during the making of KNPH, if he was, then it never showed. We used t consistently consult and talk to each other about things. If I wasn’t happy about anything, I used to tell Hrithik and he used to tell Rakesh Ji. Overall, it was great fund doing the film.”

That Hrithik has always been the way he is today-that he is, a nice human being- is a quality that Vrajesh spotted very early. “Hrithik had no excess baggage of a directors son and he still has no baggage of being Hrithik Roshan. He was a very normal person and he was just as stunned as anyone could be when KNPH was such a big hit. He had never taken anything for granted. There was never ‘I’m the hero of the film’ or ‘the directors my father’ sort of baggage. It was always on the ‘I’ve to do the film well’ and ‘if everyone else is comfortable. I’m fine’ level for him.”

During the shooting of the film, lots of episodes took place among which the odd one was not too pleasant. Being somebody who behaved in an exemplary manner on the sets, Hrithik was not too kind when he faced with its antithesis once. “We were shooting at Film City on a Sunday evening and one of the crew members had come drunk on the sets and Hrithik got livid about it.”

Hrithik and Vrajesh shared quite a few lively and youthful moments during the making of the film at a time when neither of the two could have anticipated how be a star the former would become. “ I remember shooting on the cruise for the song in KNPH and I’d put a lot of sun tan lotion and Hrithik went into a fit of laughter, he laughs so heartily and its one of his best traits. He just wants to be happy and enjoy himself.” A vivacious guy with a smile on his face even when he is confronted with professional adversity: that definition applies to the superstar even today. 

During the shooting of the film, lunch was the time when some of the key members who were working in it would come together and relax. One of the major constituents of Vrajesh’s comic image is that he is a thin guy and, on top of it, there was a day when he justified his bodyweight by opting for little food. Speaking of that day, he says, “Rakesh Ji would wait for us for lunch. Hrithik, Rakesh ji, Satish Shah, Fairda Jalal and I would have lunch together. Once we were shooting at Kamalistan and it was terribky hot and I didn’t want to eat too much. So I took little rice and curd. When Rakesh ji saw my place and said, ‘Are you going to eat so little?,’ I said with a very serious look that if I put on weight, I’ll loose my market. Rakesh ji said to Hrithik, ‘Young boys eat so little. Look at us, we eat so much and are so healthy. Hrithik, teach him something.’ 

Fully aware that Vrajesh’s ultra-thin body was the one of the USP’s behind his success and identity as a comedian, Hrithik said as a matter of fact: “No, dad we have spoken about this and I don’t think he should be eating too much.” After that, we both went out of the room and had a good laugh.” Vrajesh being a guy with a fine sense of humor could take Hrithik’s dig at his lean and thin physique.

After all, Vrajesh’s built was the key to his comedy, and who knew it better than Hrithik who had spotted the guy?

Several such moments highlighted the smooth manner in which the film was shot. “Hrithik has too many assets to be numbered at the least of them is his biceps! I remember, while canning for the shot in KNPH when I see Raj and mistake him for Rohit and go running to him and Amisha and we are talking, Rajesh Ji started shouting, ‘I cant see you in the frame.’ Then we realized that I was hidden behind Hrithik’s right arm and he had to move it for me to be seen in the frame!”

The entire Roshan family treated Vrajesh like one of their own, and this is something he can never ever forget. “Hrithik, Rakesh Ji and Pinkie Aunty went out of their way to make me feel a part of the family, which was outstanding.” What that did not mean was that the young comedian could take liberties when the film was being shot. Discipline was the key word here, applying to everybody right from Hrithik to Vrajesh. “I remember we were shooting for the song Chand Sitare in KNPH and I wanted to leave early because my film Such A Long Journey was premiering the same evening, I was very scared to ask Rakesh ji and Hrithik said, ‘Wait, I’ll as him.’ For a long time he was thinking about what to ask and finally went up to Rakesh Ji and said, ‘dad, Vrajesh wants to go,’ and Rakesh Ji gave him such a look, he ran from there. He came to me and said, ‘Forget it. Just forget it.’”

Since the film was released, Hrithik and Vrajesh have come together on screen just once. “We’ve worked together after than in MPKDH after that and have keot in touch just on and off though, not like close pals as such.” But what Vrajesh says most emphatically manifests the human and gentle side of the gifted actor. “Hrithik is humble to the point of being humblest. Hrithik always had normal humble dreams like everyone has- want to buy a house, want to marry, be successful, do the right thing and be with the family. Other than that he had no other pressure. Maybe now there is more pressure as he has to prove himself.”

So what it is about his personality that viewers find so mesmerizing? Says Vrajesh: “Hrithik has very soulful and expressive eyes. And I think he has an amazing sense of timing. He’s very settled in his mind, levelheaded and intelligent. Plus he’s very disciplined. It’s very easy for someone of his star status to lose it completely, but he hasn’t. He’s a great dancer and actor and a great human being,”

A few years after Hrithik’s KNPH gave him instant superstar status, Vrajesh believes that his costar has a mind of his own which makes him different from the rest. “Hrithik is an evolved, thinking and progressive actor. People have said that he doesn’t have a good choice of scripts. But look at Koi Mil Gaya. If that’s not progression, then what is it? In that film you could see the character not Hrithik. For a mainstream, commercial Hindi film hero to play a mentally underdeveloped guy was outstanding and he pulled it off so well. But there is still better to come.”

During the shooting of their first film together, what Vrajesh understood about Hrithik was that if he relaxed with somebody, he ended up being a very good friend who had no hang ups whatsoever. “If Hrithik is comfortable with someone, he’ll be completely open and friendly with him and make no issue about anything. But at the same time he’s a somewhat private person. He’s not a recluse, of course he wouldn’t go and hug everyone he knows.”

Did Hrithik have any serious worry when the film was being shot? Vrajesh makes a revelation that sounds logical but can take anyone by surprise: “He used to be constantly worried about his hair. He used to ask me, ‘Will I lose hair like my father? It’s genetic.’

Time has gone by. Once an upcoming actor wanting to make an impact with is first film, Hrithik is today on the list of Bollywood’s most wanted. But Vrajesh believes that an innate quality in him has remained unchanged since the days he started out as an actor. “Hrithik is very vulnerable still. Look at how easy he is with kids. As you grow up and see so much of life, every human being gets corrupted and there’s a lot of cynicism and unfulfilled dreams. But there’s so much vulnerability and innocence in him that he makes kids around him most comfortable.”

As a friend and costar who is aware of the ups and down every actor must confront, Vrajesh is aware that Hrithik had to see some really tough times after the initial euphoria post-KNPH he had withered away. “When his film after KNPH weren’t doing well, he bogged down and there was stress and tension for him, but he rose above them all. This proves that he has the capacity to make it. He realized that sometimes it all depends on the director and it wasn’t his fault altogether.”

Inwardly, Hrithik is a simple guy with simple aspirations. Alas, there are certain sacrifices every celebrity has to make so how can Hrithik be any different? Not that he didn’t make any effort to prove this reality wrong. “Hrithik tried very hard being a normal person and not a star after KNPH, but its difficult when you have thousands of people waiting outside your van, wanting to touch you. So, he has to keep his distance. Hrithik loves going to the restaurant Little Italy in Juhu. He’d gone there once and it was complete chaos there. People were calling their grandmothers and asking Hrithik to speak to them. The manager of a restaurant he frequents was telling me that whenever they want his food to be complimentary from the hotel, he insists on paying and requests them not to ask him for autographs or clamor him for pictures. He goes to the kitchen and signs autographs, clicks pictures, eats, and pays his bills and leaves. He tries to be as normal as possible.”

When Vrajesh was to work with Hrithik again, situation has metamorphosed. “When he did MPKDH, he had changed a lot as an actor. He was much more evolved, confident and surer about himself. But he had become a quieter as a person, not aloof but little reserved. During KNPH, I’d seen him as a very carefree person, but that also changed a bit and he wasn’t carefree as he used to be. Not worried or worn out, but constantly contemplating something somewhere.”

During the making of KNPH, however, there was no such problem because Hrithik had everything to prove yet, and nothing to lose had things gone wrong. Well after his launching pad had been designed, the actor claimed that his home production did not project him as a star son, a quality that marks most films serving as introductory promotional extravaganzas for a special bunch of kids. “Unlike me, all other star sons have been presented like stars in their debut films. I kept on cribbing that all the performance-oriented scenes were given away to Amisha. I use to say: ‘Excuse me! It is my father’s film and I am supposed to be launched, so why am I being sidelined?’ dad used to get irritated and reply: ‘it is my film and not yours. You will do what you have been asked to do. If you want to be a stud, be so in other films.’ At that time I used to get very depressed.”

But once the film became a super hit, Hrithik became a hot sensation overnight. Unprepared for the hysteria and the adulation that had surpassed his expectation, Hrithik did confess: “Before the release I was very occupied with the post-production, so I really had no time to think. I was preoccupied with the publicity, the poster designs and so on. There was no time for the feeling of nervousness to sink in. I went for every show for the first three or four days. Then I became nervous in a very good way because people were appreciating the film a lot. It is scary. It is very scary. I wanted people to like it, but not only did they like it, they went overboard. I began feeling that I was getting something I did not deserve. They were people who were screaming at the theater. I did not want them to she me personally because I did not want the myth to be shattered. I began getting nervous about leaving the theater because I was worried that people, when they came to take my autograph, would realize that I was nothing like Rohit or Raj who I had played in the film.”

The budding superstar remembered an interesting episode that clearly signalized that he had arrived with his first film. “I watched the first show at the Galaxy Theater in Mumbai, I saw the film till the very end. Somebody saw me and the word got around. I came out through the back entrance and the entire public who was present at the show surrounded the theater, they stopped my car and were terribly excited to see me. I did not expect the euphoria and, honestly, I did not know how to react. I was overwhelmed. I was grateful. There was nothing that could have prepared me for this. I was prepared for tomatoes, nasty comments. I have been a regular person in the audience and I know how the public can tear a hero apart. I got something that was opposite, it took me by surprise. I was in daze for a very long time.”

After the release of the film, it was time to experience the reality check: and feel the pinch when the reality bite wasn’t too pleasant at that. “You know one of my first public appearances after the films release was at a shop in Mumbai where I had gone to sign some compact discs and tapes. Amisha and I had gone together. Normally I am not very particular about the clothes I wear. I think it is about time that I changed. I had worn a shirt and a stupid old pair of jeans. I did not give much of thought. There was this group of girls that was disappointed and they kept on screaming- hey this is the fake Hrithik Roshan, we want the real one.” He continued: “I said I was sorry but that was the way I looked in real life. Of course things were very nice after that. But that was really my first tryst with stardom. I realized that one was judged by the way one looked, what one wore.” That feeling was to change the young man, if not inwardly, at least in terms of how he was to present himself in front of the adoring (and occasionally dismissing) masses in the future.

That KNPH made him a hot commodity was unquestionable and, even today, if one were to do a survey of indifferent cinema- goers and ask them which is the only Hrithik Roshan film they might have watched, chances are really high they will mention his first film. Not that Hrithik doesn’t realize that, since he did confess to Showtime more than three years after the film released: “The euphoria of KNPH hasn’t waned from my mind. The popularity and the fame that I experienced after the film was something that has never happened to any actor of Indian Cinema. I had received invites from celebrities Nelson Mandela, Prince Charles and Madonna. It was unimaginable.”

In the film, Hrithik’s co-star Amisha had equal footage but she was reportedly not too thrilled by the fact that her male costar had managed to hog all the limelight. It was widely suggested that she could not help feeling that the dad had made a film for his son owing to which she had been sidelined. Papa Roshan defended this accusation in an interview to Stardust. “KNPH was definitely not a film made by a father for his son, it was a thrilling love story. If you narrate the subject to anybody, he or she would say that it is a heroine-oriented film. If Hrithik has been accepted in a big way, it is not my doing. I am not lobbying for my son to get covers of magazines. My job was to release the film and publicize it. If she thinks I fell short in any way while doing that, she can complain but not otherwise. All my publicity had Hrithik and Amisha. There is not even one poster where she I missing. Infact so many people used to tell me that you are launching your son, put big banners of him, but I never gave in.”

The dad went on to rationalize with a perspective that was perfectly reasonable: “I can understand Amisha’s point of view. She has been overshadowed by Hrithik but she should understand that it was not my doing. I remember when Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak was released, Amir Khan became a star overnight but Juhi Chawla was costarred with him did not sign any film for eight or nine months. I remember she used to come to my office and cry. See this is a hero-dominated industry, first everyone runs after the heroes and then the heroines. But then, when I went to sign Juhi Chawla later, she did not have dates. “If one looks at the comparison between Juhi and Amisha post QSQT and KNPH respectively, Rakesh Roshan’s hypothesis wasn’t off the mark. For, Hrithik continues to be a huge superstar today, but Amisha too has had her share of big successes much like Juhi had when she had peaked as an actress with certified commercial viability at the box office. 

After KNPH, life for the Roshan family had become dramatically different. The grandson of music composer Roshan, the son of actor Rakesh Roshan and the nephew of another music maker Rajesh Roshan was hot property, an instant superstar. Not much later came the bead news that not only colonized headlines but changed the life of the family forever. Once a struggling actor but now a huge filmmaker, there was a serious attempt on Rakesh Roshan’s life that could have bought about grave repercussions which it did not. Roshan and his driver sustained bullet injuries after some gangsters shot them while the director was leaving his office in a car at Santa Cruz in north-west Mumbai.

The dad managed to recover, but not before the entire family had been thoroughly shaken by the brutality of the incident. Once back in action, the father went into a reflective mode as he spoke about the life he had lived while young. “My father was a great music composer. I mean Roshan was a really big name in the industry; we even had an Impala car. He gave the best education, he put me in Wadia College, and I remember every time I asked him for money, I used to get 500 rupees. I would often wonder why my dad was such a miser. And when he died, I realized that we had just 30- 40 thousand rupees in our accounts.”

Surprised by the revelation, the son went up to the mother and asked her what exactly had led to such small deposits in the banks. “She told me that we were a part of an industry where it is important to show more than we had. Today I guess we are all victims of this trait. I would have understood if the extortionists had wanted my glamour or my creativity, because they are the only assets I have. “But what happened on the fateful day in January, 2000- on the 21st to be precise- could have been motivated by every other desire except for seeking a copyright to Roshan senior’s creativity. To put it succinctly, the criminals wanted hi life, nothing less, nothing else.

As Hrithik was to recount later:” The joy of the overwhelming response to the film just lasted one week. The unfortunate attack on my dad made me realize that not everyone was your friend. I was so upset that I had decided to quit films. Because at the end of the day, my family is more important to me.” This thought crossed his mind when he was rehearsing for a dance and he admitted to having felt all of a sudden: “I had this stance of one happy dancer. I stopped and thought to myself about what I was doing. It is because of this that my father narrowly escaped death, so why was I doing this? I did not need to do this. I did not need another attempt on his life, or an attempt on my life, my mom’s life or my sister’s life. It was not worth it at all.”

But the fighter in Hrithik reasoned it out within his conscience and came to the conclusion that he had to soldier on. “Then, there was this counter thought that this is what the enemy wanted. Somebody out there did not like the fact that my dad was successful, that he had launched his son. If dad had quit, this somebody would have won, and that made me strive to do better and get to when I going faster.”

Hrithik’s discomfiture and pain were comprehensible- after all, which son would not feel the way he did? - But they also brought to mind the key question: what could have been the real issue as to why somebody chose to target Rakesh Roshan? Sometime after the attack took place, Hrithik was to suggest that the assault was not because of the issue or extortion as the media had reported. He felt that there were individuals within the industry who were high perturbed and worried because of the sheer unexpectedness as well as the magnitude of mind-boggling success. 

When Rakesh Roshan was questioned about the possible motive behind the ruthless mission, he came up with a rationale along similar lines: “If they were extortionists, they would have made some demands. But there were none.” The media came up with consequential speculations that gave rise to a set of questions. Despite the fact that most top stars hated each other’s guts and popularity, would somebody stoop so low and actually mastermind an attack such as this one? Was the young star’s sudden popularity the reason why his father was shot at? If both these questions could be answered with a yes, in that case who could the armchair planner be?

That somebody could have planned the attack within the industry was a theory no one could thrash indifferently. Business rivalries had led to lots of bad news in the past, and after KNPH, there was little doubt that Rakesh Roshan had become a name to reckon with who had made many really envious by planning his son’s launching pad that made the latter a unique success story. After just one film, Hrithik’s name would have figured in the list of the industry’s most wanted stars without any doubts whatsoever. As a trade analyst said most emphatically: “Today Hrithik has become the hottest star in the industry. He has signed up some of the big banners, right from Subash Ghai to Karan Johar. It’s rumored that the Barjatyas are also signing him. Not just that, banners that were loyal to other stars only a few seasons back are not shifting loyalties towards Hrithik. People have not seen this kind of hysteria in a long time.”

How popular he became within a matter of days could be gauged from Bollywood’s showman Subash Ghai’s reaction to Hrithik a few days after the film was released. “My film was released on Friday, I was chatting on the net on Monday night when Mr. Ghai called me to his house out of the blue and signed me. Though he had seen the preview of KNPH I did not see any deeper meaning into it because he sees all of dad’s films. I did not want to read into that because I did not want my hopes to soar. Also, I was not expecting a call because I had heard that he had signed up some stars already for his forthcoming venture. Dad always says that if one worked hard, good things had to happen. Well, they are happening.” Those were the thoughts of a young man who had been catapulted into the limelight which made him both happy, and somewhat uncomfortable too because the transformation had happened much more rapidly that he could have imagined in his wildest dreams. 

With just one film as a hero, Hrithik Roshan had arrived. Now, he had to set his eyes on bigger targets that would prove to the world that KNPH was not a miracle that had occurred when God was kind to him for no rhyme reason.