At times I miss myself….

Published On: 2012-06-24

Author: unknown

Media Link:

"At times I miss myself..."- Hrithik Roshan

Source: G Magazine

Superstars faze me. Their megalomania, the shield of arrogance they protect themselves with, the aura that surrounds them make me desist with all my might from venturing into their hallowed zone. They live different lives, breathe rarefied air, feel and behave differently from mere mortals. The need to identify with the people I interview makes me want to relate to some sphere of their personae. But identifying with a superstar? No way! I wouldn’t want to venture there. 

Hrithik Roshan is perhaps the biggest superstar of the Y2K generation… All the more awe-inspiring because Generation X (or is it Y?) doesn’t bestow its favors too easily. Their breed is very hard to please. But in the autumn of 2000 came a young man with light eyes and a lithe body, who crossed every divide and became a rage from Rampur to Rawalpindi to the Riviera. 

Hrithik-mania struck the country like an all-encompassing cyclone, leaving a million casualties in its wake.
What would a man who’s seen success of this magnitude be like? Stories of his lost humility, his new-found arrogance, and the ‘A’ word – ‘attitude’ — have been doing the rounds for a while now. My inhibitions rose when two long evenings of waiting ended with a promise of accomplishing my mission the following day. ‘If tomorrow comes...’ I told myself, witnessing his whirlwind schedule, which left me wondering if he has time to breathe at all. And then the interview happens.

 The real Hrithik Roshan is someone only a privileged few know. I’m certainly not one of them. But the person I left behind after our meeting was as different from all those stories as desert winds are from arctic avalanches. The humility still exists. It’s just cloaked carefully to prevent people from brushing it off as ‘fake modesty’. 

The intensity is expected (though he swears it’s diminished), and finds expression in moments that even take him by surprise. And the most damning aspersion of them all... that his love for his wife is a smokescreen to prevent people from seeing his real philandering self. By sharp contrast, I see a man who lets his guard down, (perhaps it’s the moment, perhaps the relationship doesn’t deserve any less) and reveals a heart that beats for only one woman… 

Presenting: Hrithik the actor, the husband and the person. Yes, there are chinks in his armour (let only the pure cast the first stone), but here is a warrior anyone would want on his side. Not because he’ll win the game, but because he’ll fight from his heart…
Everyone who’s interested in reading/ knowing all about Hrithik Roshan (and I guess that would be any avid cine-watcher in the country and across, one might say) would know that the young actor has always dreamt about doing what he’s doing today. He’s been passionate about acting since childhood. What is it about acting that fascinates him the most – playing different characters, emoting different emotions, or is it a soul-searching experience for him… knowing himself better? 

“Acting,” he says spontaneously, without pause or deliberation, “is like a journey, a constant effort to try to be in complete control of my senses. There are rare moments when my concentration level is so high that I almost feel in complete control of my emotions in front of the camera. And this experience gives me a very powerful feeling. The entire experience of exploring something new about life everyday is so enriching and fulfilling. The struggle, the motivation, the search, the analysis, the whole gamut of emotions is very appealing to me,” he enthuses, exhilarated even whilst talking about this exhilaration. 

“I also feel that it all depends on the kind of person you basically are. Being an introvert all my life, I never really voiced my opinions. I’ve had a lot of thoughts in my head, a constant dialogue happening in my subconscious, a lot of unanswered questions…,” his hazel eyes turn introspective. “As a kid I would search for the answers outside. But as I gradually started looking deeper within myself, listening to my conscience, I realised that the answers are always within. Ever since, I’ve stopped searching for solutions outside me. In a certain way it could be very spiritual too, because the kind of concentration and focus that you have to be capable of achieving is very close to meditation. That’s why meditation helps in acting.” 

And the man sitting across me seems to have achieved this blissful nirvana. Endless demands on his time and space notwithstanding, the intense scrutiny on every action of his regardless, when in front of the camera, he’s utterly completely focussed. 
Having watched him over the couple of days when the interview seemed so-near-yet-so-far, and witnessing how every moment of his day seemingly belongs to someone else, one wonders whether he misses the moments of solitude he’d have had the leisure of when he wasn’t the most wanted star in India. Hrithik thinks for a moment and then smiles that slow-winding thoughtful smile of his and replies, “You know, I’ve been experiencing that loss a lot lately. I crazily miss times when I just want to rewind and relax. But I guess like that poem goes – ‘the woods are lonely, dark and deep…, I’ve miles to go before I sleep’. 

Being forever among people, does he get back home wanting to be left alone? And how does his wife, who’s perhaps been waiting all day to spend time with her man, take his need for being alone at times?

 “I need my breathing space very badly. And thankfully, Suzzane knows this side of me very well, so she lets me have my time with myself whenever I want to. If I want to be alone, she leaves me for an hour or so. I really need to be by myself sometimes. I am working amongst people all day, people and more people… I sit in my car and there are people. I can’t even take a drive on my own because I have guards. I have a gun with me all the time. Every place I go I am surrounded, except in the loo, I guess,” he laughs shortly. “So at times, I come home just wanting to be alone and Suzzane lets me have that. It could be at two o’ clock in the morning and I would say – ‘I just want to be alone right now’ and she’d just leave me alone. She understands and respects my need,” his eyes glow with the strange light of a man in love with a woman who understands him almost completely. “I think that’s a big step to a happily married life. That a couple understand each other completely,” he says, contently.
“But I look at it positively,” he says, analysing the need-for-time-on-my-own situation without bias. “I’ve lived that life with lots of time for myself in the past. Now I’m in a phase where I’m supposed to be going somewhere. Maybe this is a part of the journey, something I have to go through. I know the vacuum I’d like at times, those moments of solitude will be there for me to snatch. I guess they only vary in sizes as you experience life. I know after a while, when the pace will not be as fast, I’ll get my moments to myself back again. I’ve realised that when you’re in a ‘solitude’ phase, you start looking at life really very closely. I think, earlier, I was far more intense than I am now. Far more focussed. I know I’m all that even now. But the intensity, the focus is of a different form. But still I miss the earlier Hrithik sometimes. It sounds weird — but at times, I miss myself.” 

Objectivity and a dispassionate look at oneself must be near impossible when one is dealing with this kind of mega-star status. Is he able to get out of the star that the world sees and see himself for what he really is?

 “It’s always with a sense of guilt that I do that,” he replies with a wry look on his face. “It isn’t that I’m complaining about being a star. But sometimes for a brief moment, I don’t want to be a star. I want to go back to what I was. I guess it is only human. I think too much of anything is not too good. The law of gravity is bound to catch up, and then I’ll want to go back up again.” He laughs self-deprecatingly, “So it’s a vicious circle. That’s life I guess.” 
“I’ve striven so hard to reach a certain point in my career,” he continues, gesturing vaguely around, “and that is what makes it worthwhile — the struggle that I went through. And let me tell you that struggle needn’t necessarily mean going to production offices and asking for films. I had my own kind of struggle. I had to struggle against my own complexes. For me, so far it has made sense to call it a struggle. I hope that these years that I’m living now will someday make sense to me.” And there’s silence for a long minute as he contemplates whether it will all work out the way he hopes it will. 
“Apart from this, I’m very lucky in a way, because the image that people have created of me as a star is not drastically different from the person that I am in reality. I’m fortunate that they don’t think I’m something I’m absolutely not. Also, I have a lot of grounding factors to give me a reality check. My family and friends. There was a time in my life when certain gurus and saadhus used to come to me and treat me as some avatar or some kind of reincarnated soul. They said that they were waiting for this year when I’d come of age and heal the world. They never made any sense to me at all. I couldn’t even relate to what they were saying. They weren’t even sure whose soul I was… it was so weird,” his eyes take on a look of wonder, at some questions still unanswered. “All those words could’ve definitely gone to my head and I wouldn’t be able to laugh at it as I am doing today.” And he trails off, reminiscing in absent wonder of another time, seemingly another world. 
Intensity is a double-edged sword. While it helps you pierce straight to the soul of certain matters, it leaves you very vulnerable, very open to hurt. 

Has being intense helped him? 

“I guess so,” he replies, not really sure, but knowing the answer couldn’t be otherwise. “I saw life very closely at a certain phase in my life, but there was a certain perspective to it. I saw what my father went through and I think that, in a sense, made me the person I am today. I understand what life in films is all about. It’s not about money, it’s not about fame, the parties… it’s about something else altogether. It’s about something far deeper than all these frills. 
“I think because my dad has been a true and humble person all his life, someone who never ever cheated anybody, he’s got all that he’s got today,” his eyes shine with pride and some deeper intangible emotion as he talks of his father. “Fame, money are all transitory. The only thing that one can earn here is goodwill, and I know my dad has earned that in this industry. I remember after my grandfather, the famous music director Roshan expired, my dad experienced a very strange thing. He used to go to people’s offices to search for work in any capacity – even as a clapper boy. And whichever offices he would go to, from the top banners down, even though they didn’t offer him work or didn’t have a place for him, people stood up when he entered.” And as Hrithik narrates this incident, his eyes take on a different look, of earnestness and lessons learnt at a very young age, of pride in his heritage that might not be rich with moolah but is strong in values. 
“People stood up to greet him not because he was Rakesh Roshan, but because of the goodwill that his father had left behind in the industry. That’s why my dad always made sure that his family understood that what’s important is the goodwill you’ve left behind you. That’s your true earning. And that is what he wanted us, his children to have.”

But isn’t it difficult to please everybody? At the end of it all, you’re judged by people according to what they think you’ve done for them. You’ve labelled a bad person by those you cannot please, while you’re a great human being to the ones you do please. 

Hrithik mulls over the question and then answers, “Though this is such a personal industry in all its professional trappings, rights and wrongs become relative. I agree with you completely. You’re good if you can oblige, bad if you can’t. That’s why misunderstandings happen all the more. But the way I look at it – no matter how people look at me, something wrong said about me is okay with me. I don’t take anything personally. Besides, I DO NOT as a rule go by hearsay. It is a law in my mind that I’ll never do that. I try to keep my end up by following my set of values, my definitions of right and wrong.
“I do not indulge or speak about others’ lives. I ALWAYS give the benefit of doubt to each and every person I come across. So far, thankfully, I’ve not been hurt, and I haven’t consciously hurt anybody.” 
People close to Hrithik know that he idolises his dad, but is extremely close to his mom. “There are so many things about mom that amaze me. I remember this incident when I was in school— I was supposed to run an errand for her. When she asked me if I’d done it, I lied to her and said – yes, I had. And it was something very important. So she repeatedly asked me if I really had done it. But I kept lying. I think she sensed it. So she said – “If you didn’t do it and you’re lying to me, something bad will happen.” 
“Later, I forgot about it. That evening, I came back with a fractured thumb from school. And she was crying as she was stroking me to sleep that night. While leaving the room, all she said was, “You’d lied to me in the morning, hadn’t you?” At that point of time and almost all through my childhood, I thought she had some magical powers. I’ve always been honest to my parents…
“I think my parents have brought us up very normally. I don’t know how other parents bring up their children. In the growing years, I didn’t see them any different from anybody else. The good thing though was that my mom married very early. She was barely 18 when she got married. She was 21 when she had her first kid. So the age difference between us (my sister and me) and our mom being far less than the usual cases, must’ve made a difference. Mom’s always been more of a friend, more than anything else. I remember times when she used to sit me and my sister down and would casually, in the course of conversation mention that we could tell her anything. ‘I’m your friend. Whatever you want to know, if you want to ask me anything, whatever…’ She had left the door open for communication. And that’s quite a great thing for a child.” 

Has his relationship with his father changed after working together? 

“It is strangely the same, but on another level,” he answers slowly. “The respect factor for each other is at a different level. The discussions are at a different level. But the equation is the same. It is great working with him,” he enthuses, almost child-like in his ardour. “In fact, it is like I’m always working with dad. Even when he’s not actually present on the sets, even when I’m looking at my shots on the monitor, I have him in my mind, my conscience… I’m always asking him if he approves of a certain shot. He’s a part of my instinct, a part of my conscience…” he says, almost poetically eloquent about his bonding with his father. 
Rakesh Roshan will direct his son again in Koi Mil Gaya, the subject supposed to be loosely based on Forrest Gump and ET.

 In a place where family dramas and mind-boggling formulae still rule the roost, doesn’t he think it’ll be too risky a proposition? 

“Of course, it is very risky to do a film like Koi Mil Gaya,” he accedes immediately, “because it is so different. But then, everything has a risk factor involved in it. It was risky for me to become an actor. It was risky for my father to launch me in his film since I was a newcomer. It was risky for my father to become an actor, or a director, or a producer. But we all did it. And we’ve all made it. But that is what gives one sense of accomplishment. Dad and I are convinced about the subject. And that’s the point – to break new ground, to tread the unknown path. And that’s what we’re trying to do. I could never play another character which is so close to me. Rather, it is what I would want to be. The way I would want to lead my life. And I’m completely somebody else now from the outside. So for me it is a soul-searching experience to portray that character in Koi Mil Gaya.” 

By the time Fiza and Mission Kashmir released, he was already THE Hrithik Roshan, a superstar. Suddenly these two films were ‘Hrithik Roshan films’, when that wasn’t the case. Had he seen that coming, or did it come as a surprise? 

“I think the public will take a film as you present it. Somewhere these films (Mission Kashmir, Fiza) were projected as ‘my’ films. I guess everyone loves to cash in on a person’s success at a certain point. But at times, it is wrong because the consequences that follow are not the way it should’ve been. And that’s what happened.
Fiza was actually Karisma’s film. Mission Kashmir was always S. P. Khan’s film (Sanjay Dutt) in which I was also there. It is not that I’m complaining about being a part of these films today. No way! I loved doing them. If I had another chance, I’d still do them. I think what went wrong was in the way they were projected. They should’ve been marketed as what they were. Fiza as Karsima’s and Mission Kashmir as Sanjay Dutt’s, mine and more. 
“And Yaadein, of course, as a film was about Jackie Shroff and his daughters. All I did was sing-n-dance in the film, anyway,” he grins wryly.
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, on the other hand, was projected very real. It had all of us and it was presented that way. Though it involved big names, it was projected in the right way. There was no playing one up against the other, which was very nice. Karan, anyways, is a genius, so he couldn’t let that go wrong. 
“But I was a little disappointed about the way Fiza and Mission Kashmir were projected because my fans felt let down after watching the film. They came in to watch my film, but they were treated to something else. Honestly, I did control it as much as I could. I did put in my word and did whatever was there in my capacity. But then, the final say is of the ones who’ve put in the money. After all, I was just the actor,” he shrugs. 

What did he learn from Yaadein? 

The diplomat in Hrithik surfaces immediately. But on second thought, perhaps, he isn’t being diplomatic, just true to his thought of not thinking in the negative. “Yaadein has given me the chance to feel the kind of exhilaration that one feels after accomplishing something. The kind of thing that I felt after
Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai. After a low, when you feel a high, it is a great feeling. If you don’t have the lows, you won’t feel the highs. And that’s what I’m thankful about, if I have to look at the positive side of things.” 

He’s played the role of a terrorist in both Mission Kashmir and Fiza. Does he understand their psyche? 

“The people who do it – terrorists – have some kind of justification. If you ask them, I’m sure they’d retort in anger. They have been wronged somewhere. That’s why I say that I give people the benefit of doubt. I know they must’ve had immensely painful stories to narrate for the way their lives have gone wrong… stories you and I can’t even fathom, sitting in our cushioned houses. The kind of things they must’ve seen and what must’ve directed their minds to have developed in such a way that their hands don’t shake when they fire a shot at somebody… We cannot think like them because, comparatively, you and I have lived a very 
sheltered life. 
“I mean… they must’ve seen their sister being raped in front of them, their entire family being destroyed in front of their eyes… and then you just want to kill everybody around you. What is good and bad then? Why will you value even certain values of life when everything you cherished has ended for you? Everything loses meaning when something so devastating happens in your life.” The answer is surprisingly mature and non-judgmental, totally reflective of the kind of person Hrithik Roshan wants to be... and is.
Hrithik hasn’t escaped untainted by the brush of scandal. 

There have been reported link-ups with different co-stars all the while. As if people can’t believe that one can be happily married and committed to one person. As if happiness and contentment is a façade that one is putting up… “Why does a good happy marriage/ relationship have to be a façade, unreal? Marriage to me is just a formality,” says Hrithik. “I guess I’m just very lucky in love. People told me that love flies out the window once you get married. But that’s not the case at all. Maybe my love doesn’t have any windows at all,” he laughs. “It still very much exists.”
In an introspective vein, he continues, “People make mistakes. I think I was lucky because I got to get close to someone for six years. I think that is a great enough time to realise if you’re compatible or not.” Talking about love and his marriage unlocks a completely different Hrithik. One that’s very deep, very abstract in his demands from his partner, and one who almost fears the happiness that he’s stumbled upon, a utopia that he’d always wanted – perhaps because he doesn’t want it to be touched by the world. 


When was the last time he laughed till he cried? 

Suddenly intense, he replies, “That’s happened. That happens very often with me and Suzzane. When I’ve said something and she returns it with a certain gesture or statement, I laugh like crazy in the beginning, and then I realise ‘oh God it is such a beautiful moment’. And I have moist eyes. Very often. I think what gets to me is her innocence. It overwhelms me – the way she is. I can’t explain it...,” he says, his eyes clouding with the inexplicability of the overwhelming emotion called love. 

Does the relationship he shares with Suzzane make him find all those alleged link-ups even more frivolous?

“I honestly don’t know what to say to that,” he says, looking truly befuddled. “I can’t stop them from saying what they want to even if I say or explain how much I love Suzzane. People are still gonna write what they want to. But honestly, it really doesn’t bother me. As long as it doesn’t bother my family and Suzzane, it doesn’t matter. If anything even affected
Sussanne one bit, then I would’ve got very upset. But since it is not, I enjoy it. We have a good laugh at it. 
“I mean, they talk about Preity and me having a scene, and here Preity, Suzzane and me are sitting together, reading it and laughing at it. Say, if I’m shooting on an outdoor schedule with Preity in London and if I go and watch a film with her and fans see us together, obviously they think something’s on between the two of us. Actually, deep within, people understand that one can have a platonic relationship too, all have their share of it, but when a nobody sees two stars of the opposite sex, together and alone, he wants to make an impression with his friends by flaunting about it, mirch-masala laga ke. And that’s how the whole thing starts because that’s ‘hot news’ for them. Now what makes it even more enjoyable is when the news spreads like wildfire and it takes unimaginable proportions.” 

All this can be understood – pangs of jealousy, rivalry… but how does he describe something as outlandinsh as the Nepal and South Africa
controversies where people were killed because they were made to believe that Hrithik had supposedly stated that he didn’t like their countries?

 “The Nepal episode is still completely beyond me,” he says, extremely serious now. “Maybe somebody was paid to mess up the relationship India and Nepal share. And one of the things on their agenda was this. What other explanation can I give myself for something as absurd as this? I mean, why on earth were people burning up other people? …because Hrithik Roshan said in some interview that he didn’t like Nepalese people. And the best part of the whole thing is that – until then, I had done just two interviews – one was the ‘Rendezvous with Simi Garewal’ which had remotely nothing to do with Nepal. And the other one was ‘Face to Face’ with BBC which wasn’t even aired. It got aired in January. So don’t even ask me because I HAVE NO IDEA. IT MAKES NO SENSE TO ME AT ALL.” 

And the attack on his father’s life? 

“I was left dumbstruck when the whole shooting episode happened to dad. For a long time I stood out of the whole incident and tried to tell myself that some man came and removed a gun and actually shot a bullet at my dad. At a certain level it was so unrealistic that I almost thought it had happened to someone else,” he says, still shaken by the incident, still affected by it at some level that is buried deep within himself. 
Hrithik has always been an introvert and a very sensitive person according to people close to him. 

Doesn’t he fear being vulnerable?

 “I’m not scared of being vulnerable because I have the other side in me which is full of anger. And what angers me most is betrayal. It pains me the most. On a superficial level, stupidity irritates me the most. Two extremes of emotions,” he smiles ruefully. “I get angry with myself when I behave stupidly.” 

And what’s his definition of stupidity?

 “Suppose I’ve said something stupid in a conversation where I’m suppose to say something impressive… that angers me the most,” he replies, with an angry-young-man look. “I know it is very taxing for one to always be this ‘right’ thing. So now, I give myself space to be stupid also. Especially when I’m dancing in public, I’m always doing stupid steps. I just let myself go haywire,” he laughs rather self-consciously. 

Doesn’t he think he’s pressurizing himself needlessly to be this ‘perfect’ being all the time? 

“I keep thinking today that I used to be a perfectionist before, but now I’m not,” he says, contradicting the question. “Now, I’m trying to be the old me. At times, I do feel I’ve become mediocre now. I think I let a lot of things go by now, something that I wouldn’t do in the past. My drive, my motivation and my fear are not as high as they used to be at a certain point in time. Or probably, I’ve just become more confident now. Earlier, if something was even one per cent wrong, then I’d need to fix it. It couldn’t be left to remain wrong once I acknowledged it. Now somewhere I’ve made myself understand that a little bit here-n-there is okay. I don’t know if that is good or bad. I guess it is good because it is getting so difficult to be this all-perfect person all the while. I think I’ve learnt to chill out a little in life. And I think it’s okay,” he says, almost as if he’s reassuring himself.

And therein lies the essence of the mega-star, the aloof untouchable that many people feel success has turned Hrithik Roshan into... Here’s a man whose conscience-keeper, harshest judge, most caustic critic is within himself. He listens to and is led by an inner voice more strident and aspiringly noble than any of the rabble-rousers outside. I return, wondering at the man who’s dealing with complexes and circumstances that most of us will never fathom… because only a chosen few walk his path…