It's all in the chemistry for Hrithik and Ash

Published On: 2018-01-09

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It’s all in the chemistry for Hrithik and Ash



Source: Emirates 24/7 

Date: November 14, 2010 



Bollywood couple reveal 'loony' side even as they discuss tale of paraplegic requesting to die.Aishwarya plays caregiver to Hrithik, who plays a paraplegic in “Guzaarish”. 


Chemistry, they say, is a vital ingredient for any film to be convincing enough to pull in the audience in droves. But it’s not just the onscreen equation that holds mettle but rather what happens when the lights go off. For Bollywood’s golden couple, Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, their camaraderie goes beyond the obvious bonding that occurs between lead stars who’ve shared two hit films in the past (“Dhoom 2” and “Jodha Akbar”) and have connections deep into tinseltown through their respective families – albeit for the latter its courtesy her illustrious in-laws Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan. 


The duo, which was in Dubai last week to promote their November 18 Eid release, “Guzaarish” (Desire), shared a warmth and admiration for one another that one can only hope is carried forth onto the marquee with similar finesse, especially when the premise of the film is a sensitive tale of a paraplegic (played by Roshan) who finds love in his caregiver Sophie (Bachchan), only to request to be euthanised towards the finale. Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who is also co-producing the film with UTV Motion Pictures, Emirates 24|7 caught up with the starry couple in a freewheeling chat that looks beyond their glamourous lives to discover their human side. 



What was your first reaction when Sanjay narrated the script? 


Aishwarya: I had already said yes even before I heard the script. But that’s Sanjay and me. We have this incredible connect. He had said after “Devdas” that when we work together next, he hoped to present a different Aishwarya to the audience. Nandini (“Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam”) and Paro (“Devdas”) were hugely impactful. The next had to be different. But it was always a yes, because it was Sanjay and we are friends. Hrithik: I was fully prepared to say no. Because when Mr Bhansali said he had a role for me, I thought I was not capable to match up to the level of his vision. Internally, I was quite sure I had to get myself out of this because it was not the right time. I needed to evolve more and grow up more as an actor. But the interesting thing is, when he sat with me, within five minutes he took me through the concept note of the film and made me laugh and cry. And I heard myself saying, when do you want to start? It was so powerful. 



So is it true what they say that Sanjay is a hard taskmaster? 


H: I had heard a lot of how it would be and I was a little sceptical. But I realised after I worked with him that it is easy to misunderstand him because his level of passion and madness for his work is so high… A: That we are all on the same page (laughs). H: If you see it in the right perspective then we all share that same passion and madness. We get it just the way he sees it in his head. A layman may not get it, but fortunately for all of us involved, we were united with our goal for this film. A: But that’s the way we also are as actors. We are all slightly nuts, and very passionate. We felt totally home, and I know Hrithik so I can say this about him too. We are all manically passionate about what we do. We will all get up and walk with him into this room and do things that would make onlookers think we are very loony. H: Yes, loony is the right word… A: But we all get that about each other. We knew this is such a sensitive film; we needed to be at the right point emotionally. H: And it’s also infectious, the passion and the madness. On the set he’s going crazy and she’s imbibing something… A: You would get something, do it, then look at it again and say let’s try something again. You would hit that magical note – H: And it’s perfect – A: And then we would try something else because Sanjay wanted it. It was just another thought but both Hrithik and I would get it and we would say why not? Creatively, there was a lot of fun. 



Clearly, it’s not just the onscreen chemistry that is at play here. Don’t you agree? 


H: For sure. We need that. You have to like each other as human beings. You have to like each other as friends. If you don’t then it’s not possible to work together. A: It’s all about getting the energy right. But chemistry has to be good on paper too, because it’s also in the content of what you are trying to find. H-It’s on paper. You know where Ethan (Roshan’s character) and Sophia are coming from. And it’s important to reset yourself to zero when you are starting on such a journey. You have to wipe yourself completely, because you cannot carry the laurels of “Jodha Akbar” or “Dhoom 2”. You can’t take from there and carry yourself forward. You recreate something new. This has nothing to do with past chemistry. A new film could have a reverse effect if it’s not on paper. 



Such an intense film would have required an equal amount of research is it not? 


H: I had to. That’s what I get paid for. But it was incredible. I had the opportunity to talk to a quadriplegic, a 27-year-old boy who was paralysed neck down for the past seven years. And truth be told, before I entered the room I was a bit awkward and thoughtful as to what would I say and I may have to make him feel good. But I ended up sitting with him for six hours and during that time all he did was make me smile and laugh. And it was only once that I left that room that it occurred to me that he was a quadriplegic. That’s when I took it upon myself as a responsibility that this is what I had to portray, the dignity and the spirit with which these guys lead their lives. They’ve been through such deep trouble and darkness, but it has only brought them into the brightest place in life. That is an equation in life that can be reached through the struggles you experience. That is the gift I received. And I promise you, once you watch the film and come out of the theatre, no matter what the problems are, they will say, it’s okay, life is good. A: I lived this experience personally as someone in my family is quadriplegic. So for me, when Sanjay told me the idea, I ended up sharing a lot of details with him and Hrithik. I’ve experienced this since childhood. So for me there was no apprehension or discovery into the life of a quadriplegic. But I too met this very boy that Hrithik just mentioned, only because I looked upon this as an opportunity to share experiences because we are a team and the fact that I also wanted to spend time with this boy and his family. And he was so very cute, sharing information with me as he had already met Hrthik. Plus, his mom was a nurse for most of her life, and when they were confronted with this situation, she ended up being her son’s caregiver. So at one point I thought I could get inputs from her but in the end we ended up getting a doctor on set as and when it was necessary to portray the practicalities of being a caregiver and yet not turning the detailing into a documentary. 



Do you believe the mass cine going audience in India is mature enough to watch a film that does not portray its lead actor as a singing and dancing superhero? 


A: Why should we judge? H: It is speculation that it is mature kind of movie. It is a very real film and easily identifiable. It is a fun film because every day we laughed. A: It is about life. H: That is the gift I am talking about. 



At the centre of “Guzaarish” is the sensitive subject of mercy killing. How difficult is it as individuals to take a call on this? 


H: Mercy killing is a very difficult and sensitive issue to take a stand on, but I strongly believe it is a subject that requires a platform. Nobody wakes up one fine morning and requests to be allowed to die. But what compels that person to make such a choice should be respected and given a forum to be heard. A: Such a sensitive issue can never have a right or wrong answer, but that does not mean we dismiss the person completely. We should hear them and try to understand what has driven them to make such a choice in life. But ultimately, who are we to make a choice for the person in question any way?