10 crore b'day gift

Published On: 2013-01-03

Author: Deepa Karmalkar

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Hrithik Roshan : The Ten-Crore B'day gift



By: Deepa Karmalkar 



Hrithik Roshan and Ameesha Patel usher in a new era of cinema. The smart’n savvy debutant duo promises to redefine the work culture in films. Where there’s no room for starry tantrums and whims. Professionalism is the buzzword. Determined to play the game by their rules, these two reps of the generation next are all set to storm filmdom with Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai. Rakesh Roshan’s beta and politico Rajni Patel’s granddaughter chalk out their revolutionary plan of action for SCREEN... Hrithik dashes three flights up to meet us at his Juhu apartment. Catching up his breath, he gasps an apology and flashes his deadly smile. We forgive him the 60-minute delay as he explains, “I was working on the latest promo at the Film City and the projector failed, then my car broke down. I hopped into an auto and finally got here.” He must count his blessings that he didn’t get mobbed and smothered by his female fans enroute. He laughs aloud and says, “The auto-driver didn’t recognise me until some people wished me luck for my release at a signal. So much for mobbing,” he grins. The scion of the Roshan empire is as spunky and spirited as your younger brother. His easy-going manner puts you at ease instantaneously, “Kaho Naa...Pyaar Hai is dad’s ten crore b’day gift to me. The film is being released in my b’day week,” he grimaces. Ameesha, on the other hand, is a chattering chum reminiscent of your carefree college days - full of bravado and enthusiasm. Twinkling eyes, a tight-lipped smile - she resembles Neelam in some ways. But very soon, you realise that this US-trained, Economics gold-medalist is her very own person. Her swanky uptown Marine Drive apartment is a perfect setting for her personality. “I am a cleanliness freak. My room must always be in perfect order. I even index and label my garments and shoes,” she relates. Indeed her room looks like a picture from the catalogue of interiors. All the stuffed toys sit prettily on the window sills and every bot of nail lacquer is lined up neatly on the dresser. Ameesha is a self-proclaimed perfectionist. A chat fest with the Kaho Naa...Pyaar Hai kiddos. 





Ameesha: The meaning of the name is eternity. Ameesha is a combination of my parents’ name, mom’s Asha, dad’s Amit. Likewise my brother is called Ashmit. Hrithik: I have an unusual name, Hrithik refers to the purity of the soul that is attained by all those who perform havan. It has a spiritual connotation. 





Ameesha: Since the age of five, I have been a Bharat Natyam dancer and I was only six when I started giving stage performances. As a result I have never had any stage fright. Even in school I won prizes for acting, elocution and what have you. However, in my school essays, film acting never featured as my ambition. The accent was always on education. My brother and I were academically inclined. Sports and cultural activities were pursued as a hobby only. Hrithik: The best part about growing up was that ours wasn’t a filmy family at all and I felt as normal as any other child. The first time I went on the sets was when I was 14-15 years old. Dad was shooting for Kishen Kanhaiya. I just felt as normal as any other child. The first time I went on the sets during the shoot of Kishen Kanhaiya, it was Amrish Puri’s house and dad noticed some kachra there. He looked around and found a broom and started sweeping himself. I was shocked and embarrassed to see him do that - ‘Isn’t there anybody else to do that’ I was wondering and then it struck me that this is where all the luxuries I am enjoying are coming from. That was the first lesson I learnt - no work is small. 





Ameesha: Even I was studying in Boston, US, I choreographed dances and put up stage shows. When I came down for vacations I did some ads, viz. Bajaj Hair Oil, Fem Blue Bleach, Jai, Lux soaps and Cadbury’s 5-star campaigns. No one took that seriously for I never had a portfolio done. I never did the rounds of agencies. After my graduation, like a good girl, I even worked for dad in his office. I had several offers from big companies but my heart wasn’t in it. I started receiving offers from MTV and Channel V but it was films that fascinated me. I had to admit that to myself and then to my folks. There was World War III at my place. My parents didn’t want me to throw away my career in economics. They objected more since I was a girl. They never wanted me to enter the big, bad world of films. But they were convinced when they saw my performance in Tanveer Khan’s play Neelam. Then they realised I was on the right track. Their only condition was that I should get a very good break. Hrithik: Even as a kid I knew I would grow up to be an actor. But it wasn’t until the first year of college that I let my parents in on my plans. That’s when the protective concern of the parents took over. They were not OK with the idea of my becoming an actor. They knew how dad struggled - this is an unstable profession where your struggles are all your own. No matter who’s son you are and even if you are genuinely talented, luck plays a vital role in shaping the course of your career. It’s a very risky line and dad was really concerned for me. He advised me against joining this line. Then I considered going abroad for special effects training. But I abandoned the idea when I realised I was running away. Then I reasoned with dad that if I didn’t go through hard work and toil, how will I experience the kind of exhilaration and victory that he’s enjoying at the end of 20 years of struggle. I urged him to trust me. “I am your son, I won’t let you down,” I pleaded and he relented. 





Ameesha: It’s amazing how I landed Kaho Naa.... Rakesh Uncle is my dad’s schoolmate and before I left for US, he had seen me dance at a wedding. Then he had told my dad that he would launch me with Hrithik someday. Six years later he invited us over for lunch and plumped the big question if I would like to do his film. “But you already have Karisma Kapoor in it,” I stammered. When he asked me again, I just died in my shoes. This was the most perfect launch any newcomer can ask for. I was really - really happy and within two days I was doing dance rehearsals. Hrithik: I was going to be launched by Shekhar Kapur. He spotted me during the last schedule of Koyla. He wanted to cast me for his next film Ta Ra Rum Pum. I asked for four months’ time for preparation, during which I took acting classes, had photo sessions done. By the time I was ready, he got called for Elizabeth. I was left behind. I continued with my acting classes. Meanwhile dad sat on his new script to star Shah Rukh Khan or Salman Khan - he thought of a romantic thriller this time. I joined him in scripting and then presuming that it starred a Khan, I started objecting that the scenes were not working out right, they had an immature feel. That’s when he coolly tells me, “I am making it with you.” I excused myself and went to my room, he followed me and asked me, “Are you ready?” Again I asked for four months prep leave. By the time I got around, the script was also ready. 





Ameesha: My first scene was shot here in Mumbai on a set of the interior of a ship. It was a shot where I try making Hrithik jealous by flirting with another guy. Hrithik: It wasn’t as if I was euphoric with main to ban gaya hero sentiment on the first day. I was quite focussed and I wanted to get it right. Film acting is work, appreciation and stardom are merely its by-products. I was very nervous on the first day. I used music as my support, I had my walkman on with my favourite numbers, right from the room to the shot. Music has the ability to isolate you from the surroundings. It was a longish shot where I am strumming the guitar in my dreams and suddenly something goes wrong. There’s chaos all over and I realise the alarm has gone off - I grope around for it, find it, switch it off and then take the chaadar off my face. It had comedy and chaos and the shot was okayed in first take. 





Ameesha: The first of the film was shot on a cruise from Colombo to Bangkok and then songs are shot in the scorching heat of Krabi islands near Phuket. While the other half of the flm is shot in the biting cold of New Zealand. First we got sunburnt and then frost bitten. It was a great learning experience. My tan marks still haven’t gone. Hrithik: The most challenging shot is the underwater one in Krabi islands. I was forty feet down underwater without any oxygen tank or life support - sharing an oxygen mask with another diver. There was a storm and the current was very strong. I didn’t have any protective covering in that bone-chilling cold. The shot required of me to drown and play dead on the sea bed. I was under water for three long hours. For the right shot, I decided to hold my breath longer. In the process I lost my support. I was dying for air. I was kicking and screaming for air and the diver reached me just in time. Otherwise... 





Ameesha: I am apprehensive about how the public will respond to us as newcomers. Their initial reaction is simply astounding, hope we live upto their expectations. Rakesh uncle hasn’t left any stone unturned in terms of production value - he has the best technical team with cinematographer Kabir Lal, choreographer Farah Khan and music director Rajesh Roshan. The home banner flying high and taking it higher if possible. Pray luck is on our side. Hrithik: It’s a big responsibility - dad has worked very hard to earn name and respect that he has got, I don’t want to discredit that in any way. I want to keep the home banner flying high and taking it higher if possible. 





Ameesha: I have signed three films since. I have already shot for Zee Cinema’s Gadar co-starring Sunny Deol. It’s a period film set against the backdrop of partition. I play a Muslim girl while Sunny, a Sikh. It’s a performance-oriented film as my character remains covered head to toe through out. Mohan Kumar’s Armaan, being directed by Vikram Bhatt, will be my second film opposite Hrithik. Then there’s a Telugu film co-starring Pawan Kalyan, Chiranjeevi’s brother. Hrithik: I am not considering myself to fit into any image. I don’t want to project myself as a certain image. The audience will tell me in time to come as to how they like to see me. Look at Ajay Devgan. He came in as an action hero and now he’s a romantic star. What I look for is a great story, an honest person making it. Khalid’s story was great, I loved my part in it and that’s how I landed Fiza. I just want to enjoy my work. The other film I have shot for is Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Mission Kashmir in which I play a Kashmiri militant. It’s a challenging role and I get to learn more under an able director. Vikram Bhat’s Armaan, Raj Kanwar’s next and Rahul Rawail’s film are scheduled to go on the floors next. 





Ameesha: I can’t sign a big film just for money - it has to satisfy my creative urge. I am not running the rat race of how many films and how much money. I just want to do my folks proud by doing quality films. Hrithik: I have never been interested in; clothes, so I went co-ordinating my costumes. I don’t care what I wear - I can just walk out in chappals. I don’t care about my hair or looks. All that must change now - if I am to be seen in public. I have assisted dad on five of our films - Khel, Karobar, King Uncle, Karobar, Karan Arjun and Koyla. I have slept, eaten and worked with the crew, always travelled by train with them, never stayed in five-star hotels where the cast and dad stayed. That experience has taught me to value the contribution of each member of the unit. As an actor I don’t need any luxuries that are due to stars. I am embarrassed when somebody gives me a chair on the sets. I have been offering chairs to everybody for the past five years. My assistant instincts are so strong that while the shot is not on, I plonk myself on the floor and then realise that I may dirty my costume. “Come on stand up, you are the hero here, “I keep reminding myself before finding a clean spot to settle down.