I'm a star : Hrithik Roshan

Published On: 2013-07-04

Author: Subhash K. Jha

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'Aap Mujhe made me realise I'm a star'. Hrithik Roshan: defiant, upbeat, undaunted



Hrithik Roshan has seen the best of times. He is also seeing the worst of times. In spite of a series of recent debacles, he is upbeat and defiant. Far from being daunted, he is more determined to give all of himself to his forthcoming films. A sore back and twisted ankle are the least of Hrithik's current problems. "I am going to wrap my ankle in a bandage and dance away to glory," he tells Subhash K Jha on the eve of his world concerts called Heartthrobs Live in Concert:



Things haven’t been going well for you lately, have they?


Well, a true hero is one who has the capacity to rise after he falls. That is how I have always wanted to be. Life is wonderful. It always teaches you new things.



Are you looking forward to your first ever world concert?


I am performing with Lolo [Karisma Kapoor], Bebo [Kareena Kapoor], Arjun Rampal and Aftab Shivsadani. But I have never enjoyed shows.

I am an actor, not a stage entertainer. Compared to Western performers, we look ridiculous on stage, lip-syncing songs and dancing to beats. Even the money does not really motivate me to be enthusiastic about live performances. This is my first world tour and probably my last live show. It was the first show I agreed to do after the success of Kaho Naa…Pyar Hai. They wanted me to warm up on the Indian stage before facing crowds abroad. That is why I did my Kolkata and Delhi shows. But I realised I did not enjoy being on stage as much as facing the camera. But a commitment is a commitment, and I shall give it my best.



Are you upset with the gossip surrounding your personal life?


I don't really care about the gossip. I know audiences know me well enough to realise I am a happily married man. But the gossip [linking him with Kareena Kapoor] has gone too far. Someone had to tell them where to get off. I object to my professionalism being questioned. They said I cancelled the shooting of Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage because my wife [Suzanne Khan] had a headache and that I manipulated my concerts to get a particular actress into the troupe because I was interested in her. They said I delayed Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage because this actress did not like Amisha Patel and that Suzanne was pressurised into marrying me after she found out about my supposed affair. They even claim an eyewitness had seen me change in an actress' van. That eyewitness has now conveniently gone back to his village. Either people who write such things think I am stupid or think they are too smart. I even offered to pay to bring the supposed eyewitness back . There was no response. I plan to sue the magazine that reported this. I have no time to deal with such slander. I can imagine why Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan allowed these gossip magazines to get away with their lies --- they just didn't have the time or support system to deal with such a situation.



Has this upset you a great deal?


Of course it has. And I am not taking action for my sake alone, but on behalf of all my colleagues who have been subjected to dirty, slanderous lies. They have to issue an apology which is as strong as the concocted story. I made the mistake of not differentiating one magazine from another. I see every journalist as doing his or her job. I treat the entire media equally. I was wrong. People ask me whether I am upset about Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage flopping. This will shock you --- but I feel good about it. Initially I was disappointed. But it made me realise a lot of things. I used to think that if a film sinks, everyone connected with it sinks too. In spite of Aap Mujhe… not being appreciated, I have been liked in the film. All the papers and television programmes praised me. Karan Johar told me Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage made him realise I am a star. He said the only people who are praised in bad films are superstars like Amitabh Bachchan. That jolted me out of my anxiety. Sooraj Barjatya had not complimented me so much for Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, where he found me nice but not good enough. It takes a lot for an actor to be recognised beyond an unacceptable product. For the audience to still have faith in me is quite amazing.



So you do see a glimmer of hope?


Actually I don't look at it that way. Every major star has had a string of flops. That happens in every career. What is the fun of running without faltering? When you stumble, you enjoy the run more.



You didn't give up on Aap Mujhe, although you felt things weren't going right?


Not till the end, and except when I had to leave for the London schedule of Yaadein. I have always tried to be fair to everyone --- I rationed dates to Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage and Na Tum Jaano Na Hum equally. I didn't foresee that both films would be released at the same time. That was stupid. Actually Aap Mujhe… started right after the release of Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai without a bound script. At the time I was in no position to demand anything. But I trusted Vikram Bhatt. I enjoyed listening to him narrate the subject. The film went through many changes thereafter. I enjoyed working in the film. It isn't a bad film. The story was old and cliched. But then, so was Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai. I hoped Aap Mujhe… would rise above its plot in its treatment. That didn't happen.

But its look went against it. Everything about the film looked downmarket. There were no colours or striking locations. The look was very 1980s.

Aap Mujhe… would have been a big hit in the 1980s.



Most of your post-debut films have flopped. Do you think you need to rethink the way you choose films?


I wouldn't say that. A film with Subhash Ghai can never be a bad choice. He signed me two days after Kaho Naa…Pyar Hai was released. Only someone stupid would refuse an offer from Ghai at the threshold of his career. I went blindly into Yaadein. How could I, a newcomer, demand a script from Subhash Ghai? That would have been idiotic. Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Mission Kashmir had a fantastic subject. I got to act with a star like Sanjay Dutt before my first film's release. Karan Johar [Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham] wasn't a wrong choice. Vikram Bhatt's film [Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage] was a family matter [its producer Mohan Kumar is Hrithik's relative]. I chose films I thought I would be good in. And I was. Na Tum Na Jaano Na Hum is another film I believe in. No one can say I am bad in it. I know I have done my job well. All I have to do is work with people who are as hardworking and committed to their work as I am.



That would be hard to find all the time...


Not really. You just have to choose your team intelligently. I am only doing one film at a time and giving it my best shot. With Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage I felt like I was fighting a one-man battle. Somewhere, all of us failed. It is as much my failure as the producer's or director's. Sometimes it is best to leave yourself in the director's hand. Other times it could be lethal. A positive outcome of Aap Mujhe… is that it made me realise I am a star. I didn't realise I was so huge. I always thought I was just a small part of a film. I was proved wrong.



What do you feel about being called a one-film wonder?


A public opinion poll has rejected that theory. I have never been praised so much since Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai. That is really something. I worked as hard in Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage as in Kaho Naa. I did my best. But it wasn't enough.



What do you have to say about Na Tum Jaano Na Hum?


Arjun Sablok came to narrate the subject to me with a bound script. He had the dartboard in front of him. He knew where the bull's eye was. All he had to do was aim and shoot. He had every scene and dialogue ready beforehand. It is completely Arjun's film.

I chose the film wholeheartedly. I think it turned out just as well as it sounded on paper. If we fail this time I have to re-learn the rules of success.

Now I have a Yash Chopra production Mujhse Dosti Karoge, up for release. In March 2003, I have Sooraj Barjatya's film Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon, and then my Dad's film Koi Mil Gaya in August 2003.



Tell us a bit about Mujhse Dosti Karoge.


I am not supposed to say anything about the film. But I have been dubbing for it, and I must say it looks nice.



One criticism levelled at you is you dance too much in your films.


*laughs* That is completely ridiculous. Every film has the hero dancing in at least two-three songs. In Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai I danced in two songs.

Fiza didn't have any dance numbers. Aaja mahiya had only one dance step. In Mission Kashmir I danced in Bhumbroo and Rindh posh maal. Yes, Yaadein had a lot of dancing. Again in K3G, I had two songs. In Aap Mujhe…, I had four songs. So hello? Why is such a big deal being made about my dancing? Every hero does it. What is "too much" dancing? Do I dance out of the script? I don't go on my sets and announce, "Hey I want to dance again."

A director is bound to make a song more interesting with a dance. How can an actor refuse to do what he is asked to do? Is it my fault if my dances after Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai were not equally spectacular ? I am not a good dancer. My dances work only when I am presented well. Ask choreographer Farha Khan how long it took me master my dance steps in Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai. A trade analyst recently wrote [about my performance in Aap Mujhe] , "He dances too much and doesn't dance into the audiences' hearts." For this film he wrote I am ill-at-ease with comedy. What do I say to this?



How do such comments make you feel?


More than myself I feel sorry this is happening to Arjun Sablok. He really worked hard. Such filmmakers should not be demotivated, and that too for a stupid reason like running me down.



Do you feel the media is running you down?


Isn't that fun? To prop an underdog and run down someone who is doing well. People love that drama.



Had you begun to doubt your popularity?


As a matter of fact, I had begun to feel my popularity had begun to ebb. At the premiere show of Na Tum Jaano, people came out in large numbers with the same intensity and hysteria as for Kaho Naa.... That reassured me.