Red Hot & Ragging

Published On: 2012-06-23

Author: unknown

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Red, Hot & Ragging


Source: Movie Magazine


You've just returned from a successful series of shows to headlines declaring that you are "Finished!" 

Oh that! I loved the pictures. I didn't pay attention to what was written. Though I'm sure some readers must have lapped up every word. But you know what? When the same media called me a phenomenon it didn't get me hits. So even if they declare I'm finished it doesn't follow that I won't have any more successes. I've just returned from paradise. Now I guess its time to face the music. I suppose what I'm going through is the inevitable fall after touching the pinnacle. I'm glad I'm going through this. It's helping me to grow up. I knew exactly what my performance was worth in KNPH when everyone was raving about it. Similarly, I also know that I perform better now. If I could achieve that kind of success with my very first film without performing to my own full satisfaction, then I can also assume stardom is all about packaging a good film. Talent is secondary. 

In that case, would you say you've performed much better in NTJNH than in KNPH? 

Its on a different level. I couldn't have done such a role at the beginning of my career. It's so subtle that audiences could've mistaken it for non-acting. Acting isn't just about glycerine shots. That's the easiest thing to do. I've always said Fiza was a breeze to play. There was so much to hold on to. 

What was it like performing abroad for the first time? 

Oh, it was an out-of-body experience. I feel the tour has changed me, I've become a stronger person. While doing rehearsals in India I thought live shows were a huge mountain that I had to climb. But after going through the experience, I feel the mountain wasn't that hard to scale. All my reservations about concert performances have vanished. I know I can pull it off. It's been really wonderful. 

According to a section of the Indian media, your shows in the US and Canada received a lukewarm response. 

Not true at all. We've broken records in every single city except Manchester. There we just broke even because the majority of the Asian population in Manchester is Pakistani. Because of the prevelant Indo-Pak tension, they boycotted our shows. Though they had bought tickets they refunded them just before the show. Everywhere else we had full houses. And I'm not talking about just traditional auditoriums. Even the larger arenas were brimming over. Venues where earlier Indian concerts collected 3,000 people had upto 10,000 people this time. Of course other Indian shows have also been houseful. But our houseful was three times larger. It's a new record. 

Reportedly, the American press went ballistic over you? 

Surprisingly, I was put on the front page of the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune. They compared me with Tom Cruise and Elvis Presley after seeing my show. What a compliment. 


So would you like to return to the US? 

When I started off I had a wrong impression about our live concerts. To me, what Indian stars did at live shows looked very immature. I always thought as an actor I was meant to perform on camera. But while going through the stage experience I realized live concerts were an extension of my career as an actor. They provide a vital link with my fans all over the world. Each time I saw the hysteria around me, all my misgivings dissolved. When they announced my name, the roar in the audience was deafening. It was a message for me - if I felt so apprehensive about concerts, why did the audience feel so positively about them? Obviously live shows are an occasion for me to connect with my fans. Instead of just waving to them I had to sing, dance and entertain them. For Britney Spears and Micheal Jackson live shows are a whole career. For me they're an occasion to meet fans. At one point in the performances I actually went down from the stage, mingled with the audience, shook hands with them for about ten minutes. Where else would I get this opportunity? 


So now that you feel differently about shows, will you be performing more frequently? 

No, because it takes too much from me. Also, the first concert is exciting. But once the audience has seen you live and has seen what you can do, there isn't much novelty left. I took time off to catch Britney Spears live on stage. But I wouldn't be so excited about seeing her again. It's a one-time thrill. Unless the second show is radically different, why would I want to go back again? I've given my best to this concert tour. If I go back I don't expect everyone to come again to see me. In my films I play a new character and provide a new thrill each time. But on stage how much can I reinvent myself everytime? Maybe I can get myself a new haircut (laughs). Otherwise I shouldn't go back for another two years. Although I've already been offered tons of other concerts, I'll plan for another concert only for 2004 end. In fact a show organizer, Mr. Vijay Taneja spoke to me after my last show was over. He offered me terms and conditions for the next show then and there for 2004. Let me tell you, it was a fantastic deal. I felt flattered. 


Were your audiences in America aware of what was being said about you in the Indian press? 

No one showed even a glimpse of negativity in thier eyes. It was just complete madness and love. I could see only eager, emotionally moved faces in front of me. They were laughing, crying and falling off thier seats. I've captured my audience on video. I wanted to freeze that experience forever. I felt like a completely different human being when I was there. I felt like a rock star. When I landed back in Mumbai, for a few minutes I felt invisible. Couldn't they see me? Where was the hysteria? Then I realized people in Mumbai see me as one of them. Out there in the West it's once chance in a lifetime for them. 


Has your confidence in your stardom been boosted by the US tour? 

You know, after I made my entry on stage I had to just stand still for a few minutes. After AMALL & NTJNH I wasn't sure if the audiences' response would hold up during my silence. I wanted to chicken out of that quiet entry all alone on stage. What if I wound up standing like a fool with no applause? But my choreographer Ganesh Hegde was very confident. And he was right. The whole experience has made me so confident right now that covers like the ones declaring "Finished!" seem like a joke. These are all part of the stardom game. The important thing is not to lose focus and to keep doing what I have to do. 

Was everything smooth sailing with Kareena Kapoor? 

Very much so. In fact Suzanne and I returned to India chatting with Babita Aunty. We talked for four hours non-stop. I realized how much easier life is when you trust others. Babita Aunty never used to talk to me. During this trip I made it a point to say 'hi' to her. 

Why wouldn't she speak to you? 

I understand her reasons completely now. They were three women living alone in a man's world. They've conditioned themselves to stay insulated from the outside world unless an outsider makes an attempt to reach out. I did. Babita Aunty finally thawed and said a lot of wonderful things about me and Suzanne. I think we've won her over. We were all a team during the concerts. Even Arjun Rampal and Aftab Shivdasani were so wonderful. In fact they spent more time on stage than I did. I preferred to stay for less time on stage. How long could the audiences have gone on screaming? I got along with Arjun and Aftab like a house on fire. 

Although Aftab had tried to give you tips on professionalism before you left? 

I got all that out in the open. I joked about it and said, "How could you be like this, man?" I made sure we were all comfortable with each other. Arjun and his wife are a wonderful couple. And I miss thier little daughter like mad. She's such a sweetheart. My own baby? Ah, I've got a few more steps to go. 

Are you depressed by what the Mumbai press is writing about you? 

Not really, because I know where that's coming from. What upsets me is a write-up that says Washington Post wrote about my magic waning and about me dancing with hearts on my leather pants. I never wore leather pants at any show and I never had hearts on any of my clothes! And the Washington Post compared me to Tom Cruise and Elvis Presley. I've got the cuttings to prove it. This is complete nonsense. 


Your next release is Mujhse Dosti Karoge? Is it true that Aditya Chopra has ghost-directed the film? 

The film releases in August. The promos are looking nice. It has some very good songs. Adi was there at the script level. After that I can very confidently say the film was in director Kunal Kohli's hands. MDK is entirely Kunal's baby. This is as ridiculous as the rumour that my dad directed the climax of Arjun Sablok's NTJNH. 


Are you doing Farhan Akhtar's film? 

Yes, I am. It's a war film called Laksh and it's going to take up a large part of this year and the next. Farhan wants to shoot it at a stretch. I'm with Amitji and Preity Zinta. 


Does she play one of the soldiers? 

No, no. She's a journalist, I think. Since Preity and I are also doing my dad's film we'll be shooting together for quite a while. 

So now tongues will start wagging about you and Preity? 

What a scary thought! Please don't say such things. 


Isn't it ironical that for all your talent and charisma you and Kareena haven't made a successful pair? 

(Laughs) Very ironical. But I'm sure we'll all get our due in time.