Much Ado about Adonis

Published On: 2012-03-29

Author: Sona Bahadur

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Much Ado about Adonis


By: Sona Bahadur


Will Hrithik resurrect his crumbling career?

He’s experienced the agony and the ecstasy of being a one-hit wonder. And now with two make-or break films on the verge of release, Hrithik Roshan is again in a tizzy. Starring Hrithik Roshan, Kareena Kapoor and Abhishek Bachchan in the lead, Sooraj Barjatya’s, Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon (MPKDH) is being marketed as a ‘with the times’ Rajshri romance replete with ‘cool’ bungee jumping, scuba diving and skiing sequences. (Never mind Kareena’s red ghagra-choli number!) Sharply contrasting with the safe romantic triangle routine of Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon is papa Roshan’s home production Koi Mil Gaya, a maverick sci-fi saga replete with snazzy technical effects. The film, which features Hrithik in the role of an endearing Forrest Gump like imbecile, seems to be made with the urgent intention of showcasing the actor’s (oft-doubted) versatility. The rising fortune of films at the box-office after a seemingly endless bad spell is an encouraging sign for Hrithik. The actor, however, sported a prudent wait-and-watch attitude when I caught up with him for a Q-and-A session on the eve of the release of MPKDH. Snatches of our confab.

Wasn’t your home production Koi Mil Gaya to release before MPKDH. Being a Rajshri film, one expected the latter to have a Diwali release?

Yeah, both films were getting ready for an August release. It would not have been an intelligent thing to have two big films with the same actor (me) release on the same date. So dad and Mr Barjatya worked things out. Since Mr Barjatya’s work was over a bit earlier, he advanced the release of MPKDH. 

Are you playing safe by releasing the film with the more conventional subject first?

No, if it were up to me, I would have preferred Koi Mil Gaya to release first.

MPKDH has taken an unusually long time— four years—in the making. Why?

Given the scale of MPKDH, it needed to take this long. It warranted this much time. We had long shooting schedules on huge sets that took a long time to light. So a simple sequence took 40 days to shoot. Mr Barjatya is a perfectionist. Every frame had to look well lit. Plus, for the first time, a Rajshri film has shot a film outside India for the songs and a few scenes. We had long shooting stints in New Zealand and Mauritius where we were up to all kinds of challenging activities like jet boating and bungee jumping. Each of those scenes took a couple of days to can. We had to train before shooting for the underwater diving sequence. So it’s a film that deserved time. The end result is beautiful.

But don’t the parts that were shot earlier look dated? What about continuity jerks?

Not at all. One of my favourite scenes was shot right at the beginning of the film. And it still looks the freshest.

One of the most striking things about the film is the cast. Your appearance with Kareena Kapoor and Abhishek Bachchan in the same film is being seen as a casting coup of sorts.

All I can say is that I am very glad I got to work with two co-stars I am comfortable with. Abhishek, of course, I have worked with for the first time. But we go back a long way.

Interestingly, when Abhishek made his debut you were the benchmark of excellence. Everyone made comparisons between you both.

Maybe. But I meant that we went to school together during the 1st and 2nd standard. So we’ve known each other since then and kept in touch. MPKDH gave us a chance to work together. I felt a certain comfort level working with Abhishek. When I was with him, it set the right mood and tone for the scene. We got along really well. He is very helpful and according to me, one of the finest actors of my generation. The work he’s done in MPKDH is as subtle as it is strong. And that is a huge achievement. 

Apparently Kareena has the author-backed role in the film. After Madhuri Dixit in Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, will Kareena steal the show this time around?

If she does, it would be well deserved. It’s the first time Kareena gets an opportunity to display her talent in full glory. She progresses as fantastic in the film. No doubt, the film is about Sanjana, Kareena’s character. The film is chapters in Sanjana’s life. In fact, Abhishek and I have a joke going between us. We say we come after Kareena in the film. As the leading lady, she leads and we follow! That makes us the following actors. But seriously, don’t forget a movie is a team enterprise. So if one actor is complimented and the film does well, the entire cast benefits. 

But as artistes, isn’t there an element of one-upmanship? 

No, I don’t believe there should be competition between actors doing the same film. Of course, each must do his or her best and try to excel. In that sense the presence of talented co-stars pushes one to do one’s best. That’s only healthy. But if one gets appreciated more than the others, it’s good for everyone. For instance, the character of Bhiku Mhatre fetched much acclaim for Satya, which was a big hit. Everyone benefited eventually. It worked for the entire cast.

That’s not what Chakravarthy the ‘hero’ of Satya had to say!

Really. I don’t know then. But this is the way I see it. Kareena, Abhishek and I all are playing different parts and are committed to the film. We are fully aware of what we are doing in the film. So there is no reason for insecurity or a grievance or feeling let down. 

Your pairing with Kareena has been liked by the people but apart from K3G you haven’t scored a hit so far.

Well, we just did one film, Mujhse Dosti Karoge after K3G. I always tell people that a film’s success is not related to the actors or the pairing. It’s the film that works or does not work in totality. I am as comfortable working with Amisha as I am working with Kareena. If pairing is the criterion to judge the success of a film, then why did Aap Mujhe… fail while Kaho Naa… Pyar Hai was a blockbuster? Of course, it’s nice to work with an actor you get along with. It helps your work. That’s just about it. It doesn’t help the film.


The general trend in the industry in the last couple of years has been in favor of thrillers and supernaturals. Barring Devdas, romantic films have bombed at the box-office.

But as you pointed out, Devdas was among the biggest hits of last year. It ran because it was a good film. Others in the genre didn’t work because they were not up to the mark. One cannot generalize that romance will not work. We waste time in trend-watching. I don’t know why the media loves doing that so much.

Barjatya films are marked by an accent on traditional family values and love. Do we find anything new in MPKDH?

The sentiments are definitely the same. It’s the same wand creating the magic. But even in the promos of MPKDH, you will see a lot that’s new for a Sooraj Barjatya film. There has never been so much youthful energy in any of his previous films. The zest and passion of MPKDH is really in your face. From Hum Aapke Hain Kaun to MPKDH with its bungee jumps, shots of jets and underwater diving is a huge distance covered. Mr Barjatya has definitely broken away from the past and tried to be in with the times by making a more energetic film. Even the romance is not akin to HAHK. MPKDH is a much younger film.

A little more about your character. Is he an idealized character? 

My character is a very rare breed. I haven’t come across somebody as special as Prem. Yeah, he is idealized in most ways. In a strange way, he is a reflection of Mr Barjatya himself. The purity Prem exudes reminds one of Mr Barjatya. Along with being flamboyant and happy-go-lucky, Prem shoots from the mouth by saying whatever he feels. He is happy, he is pure and does not believe anyone is bad. That’s his premise in life—that everyone is good. He is so happy that he carries a bag that says “I am happy”. It’s a constant reminder that he wants to live his life happily. He is completely convinced about his way of life. That’s what makes him so special.

No other actor has swung the pendulum of stardom as wildly as you have in the course of your career. Your upbeat attitude is something you seem to share in common with Prem of MPKDH.

I do identify with Prem in some instances. I strive to be like him. Since I started working on the film, I have tried consciously to imbibe his qualities in me. But I don’t think one can live even an entire day being and behaving like Prem. He is too perfect. 

Idealized heroes don’t seem to be working these days. People seem to prefer more real characters.

Yeah. I am with you when you say Prem is an idealized character. He is definitely Mr Goody-Two-Shoes. I also agree I have played a lot of this type. But at the end of the day, a hero has to be good. What else makes a hero?

Your detractors have accused you of playing safe in your choice of roles.

But I played two negative roles immediately after KNPH in Fiza and Mission Kashmir. Is that playing safe?

But you followed that up with sugary romances again.

I don’t make films. As an actor I make the most of the offers I get. I can’t help it I am only offered good-boy roles. Having said that I feel that Prem is completely different from the roles I have done so far. His level of energy and flamboyance are something else. I have always played simple, subtle, silent good boy roles. Prem is in your face and out there. There is a marked difference in the way he carries himself.

What are your expectations from MPKDH Do you see this film as a turnaround film?

No. I don’t want to turn anything around really. I am quite happy as I am.

Well, you haven’t had much success at the box-office lately. Isn’t there a level of anxiety?

I am hopeful the film will do well. If it’s a hit, of course it will help my career. But I am not looking at it as a turnaround film. I don’t waste time doing that.

How do you react to the consistently negative reaction you have been getting for your recent performances?

I don’t believe in bad periods and good periods. I believe that good films do well while bad films don’t. When I sign a film I believe in it. I strive to do my best. But the audience is the final judge. If they say it’s bad, it’s bad. If my flops were a reflection of my talent, it would hurt. But I have been lucky. My work has been appreciated even in my worst flops. No one ever pointed a finger at me and said a film didn’t work because of me.

Do you agree that there is an element of repetitiveness in your acting and dancing? 

I agree with that. Absolutely. So much so that I have been pushed to the point of frustration by filmmakers who wanted me to repeat stuff that people liked in my previous films. You have to understand that eventually an actor is just a puppet in a director’s hands. 

But an actor also exercises active choices.

No, that’s the director’s role. It’s the directors who tell me repeatedly: “We want you to do that dance step because you do it well.” I can’t tell them I won’t do it because I did it in KNPH and don’t want to repeat myself. They might take my suggestion. But ultimately if they insist on it, I have to follow their instructions. Filmmaking is a director’s medium.

There has been a lot of media criticism. Does that stress you out a lot and make you feel disheartened?

No, it’s very strange, but such criticism entertains me at one level.


Last year one magazine put my face on the cover with a single word: “Finished!” That issue sold out so they again carried me on their next cover. That really entertained me. If I were truly finished, the magazine would not have given me such importance. I was chosen from the entire lot of movie stars to be put on the cover of that magazine. Since it was the bread and butter for the employees of that mag, I was happy enough. It’s such an irony really. You are saying I am finished but you put me on the cover repeatedly knowing that my face sells. Once you understand this paradox, it makes you laugh.


More about your home production, Koi Mil Gaya.

That’s a different ball game altogether. Dad is attempting something very path breaking with Koi Mil Gaya. I have attempted something unique but will discuss it closer to the film’s release.