Son Et Lumiere

Published On: 2012-07-09

Author: Praveena Bharadwaj

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Source: FF


Rakesh Roshan is still celebrating the success of Koi… Mi Gaya, which continues to draw the crowds, and the accolades for his son, Hrithik. This father-son combination seems to have a magic all its own, which brings out the best in both. Rakesh Roshan explains how and why. 

Did you plan Koi… Mil Gaya only with Hrithik in mind? 

Absolutely. I worked the film around him. In our first film together, Kaho Naa… Pyar Hai, I’d shown him as an extrovert as well as an introvert, so I had to now cash in on his versatility. I know Hrithik has the capacity to play diverse characters. 

Yet an actor can’t do much if he doesn’t have the correct screenplay to back him. For instance, if I show the hero crying for his dead mother in the first scene, the audience won’t react. But if I bring in that scene after establishing the bond they shared, the audience will be moved. A perfect screenplay is a must. 

Hrithik started off very young--he was five years old when he made his debut in Bhagwan Dada. Did you groom him right from that age? 

Believe me, I did not want to make him act in Bhagwan Dada but my father-in-law Omji (J Om Prakash) was confident Hrithik was born to act. When Dugu had to give the first shot, I hid behind a tree, so that I wouldn’t make him nervous and also because I was very tense. But he stunned me with a perfect shot. For a moment I even forgot that he was my son. 

After that, it’s been his sincerity and dedication that have got him where he is now. When he started assisting me, for example, he would always be there on the sets bang on time even if I was not. Right from his childhood, he has always been very sincere about whatever he took on. Once he picks up something, he will see it through to completion. 

You’ve managed to bring out the best in him in the two films you’ve made together. Do you think other film-makers have failed to cash in on his talent? 

Every film-maker goes through ups and downs. Hrithik has worked with great film-makers who were going through a low phase. Also, none of the screenplays he worked with helped him as an actor. Even the best actors, like Amitabh Bachchan or Shah Rukh Khan, can be let down by the director or the screenplay sometimes. You can’t call them good actors in one film and bad in others. They’re the same guys with the same talent. 

After KNPH became a phenomenal hit, other film-makers expanded his roles to cash in on his success and in the bargain, their screenplays went for a toss. For example, Subhah Ghai’s Yaadein was the story of three girls. When he tried to increase Hrithik’s role the film went haywire. 

To avoid a repeat of this, he has been very cautious and signed only one film before the release of KMG--Lakshya. 

How would you rate him as an actor? 

I think he’s one of the finest actors in India, among the topliners. An actor has to be very honest and it’s there for all to see on Hrithik’s face. 

One of the criticisms against him is that he is too much of a perfectionist. Would you agree? 

Well, each actor has his unique style. There are actors who glance at the dialogue and say they’re ready for the shot, others memorise their dialogue, get ready to become the character and then come for the shot. Dugu belongs to the second category. That’s why he’s versatile. I don’t think there’s any other actor on the scene today who could have played Rohit to perfection in KMG the way Hrithik did. He walked a tightrope as a child trapped in a man’s body and he succeeded. And remember, he’s just three years old as an actor in the industry. 

So what do you consider his minus points? 

His insistence on perfection, perhaps. Because even if he gives a perfect first shot, he insists on a retake. I may indulge him but other film-makers may not be so tolerant. 

You are known to be a hard task-master on the sets. Are you a strict father too? 

Not at all. I’m a strict disciplinarian but I’m also a friend to my children. They have to keep me informed of their whereabouts if they’re delayed but I give them total freedom because I know they’re responsible adults. 

And Dugu is honest to a fault. For him, black is black and white is white. He won’t say something just to please someone nor will he ever hurt anyone. Once he makes a commitment, he will fulfil it even if that means going out of his way. Sometimes, in a bid not to hurt someone’s feelings, he tries to take the middle road. Perhaps experience will teach him diplomacy. But I’d like him to remain just the way he is. 

What kind of relationship do you share with him? Is he closer to his mother or to you? 

He’s close to both of us. The only difference is that with his mother, he can open up but with me, he will send a message. Earlier, his mother used to pass on his messages, now I get SMSes. 

Hrithik got married, soon after Kaho Na… Pyar Hai. Was there any pressure from your side for him to get married at that point? 

There was no zabardasti from our side. He had made a commitment to Suzzanne that they’d get married after the release of KNPH no matter what its fate at the box office. And as I told you earlier, he keeps his word. 

Do all the stories of his link-up with Kareena Kapoor worry you? 

Never. Because I know he’ll never do anything that might hurt his family.