I couldn't sleep

Published On: 2012-04-02

Author: Subhash K. Jha

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'I couldn't sleep before the first preview'


Source: Rediff
By: Subhash K Jha
Date: August 09, 2003


Hrithik Roshan's Koi... Mil Gaya has met with fabulous response. Both the critics and the audience have loved the film and his performance. 

The actor who has not recorded a solo hit since his debut in father Rakesh Roshan's Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai, is understandably nervous and excited. Subhash K Jha spoke to the actor:

Koi... Mil Gaya is said to be your second coming.

(nervously and excitedly) I don't know. But the response to the film is beyond anything Dad and I had hoped for. People are simply going crazy over my character Rohit. I have never seen anything like this in my life. 

At theatres, the audience was clapping and dancing with Rohit. When you have some of the greatest actors of Bollywood like Rishi Kapoor and Srideviji telling you they have never seen anything like my performance, it does feel good.

What exactly is your role in Koi... Mil Gaya?

Glad you asked me this. It is something I need to clear up. My character Rohit is not autistic. He is born with a deficient part in his brain. He is mentally ten years behind other people his age. Rohit isn't a loser. He's quite smart, actually. Just not adult smart. 

Unlike other actors playing mentally challenged characters, I had to make Rohit look smart. He's always playing pranks on supposedly normal guys twice his size. 

Dad is right when he says Koi... Mil Gaya is my chance to connect with my young fans.

How special is Koi... Mil Gaya?

No star in Bollywood has ever attempted this role. It was a big risk for me, my dad and the film industry.

My character had no reference points. There was no film or novel to be inspired by. Everything had to come from within me. I had to work on my body language, speech, everything. 

I've seen mentally challenged characters played in an extreme manner, like Sridevi in Sadma. She played a complete child, and did it brilliantly. I'd have loved to do that. 

But Dad had something tougher in mind. He didn't want me to regress to being a complete child nor did he want me to be autistic. He wanted me to play a normal 11 year old trying to behave like a grownup man. 

So, first, I had to become this 11 year old, and from there I had to look strong and capable. Do you know what I'm saying? I had to find that 11-year-old boy within me. And that was just the beginning of my problems. Then, I had to interact constantly with six other children on screen. So my performance couldn't be judged in isolation. I had to look like I belonged to that group. If I went wrong, I'd be found out in the first frame. 

All my buddies in Koi... Mil Gaya came up to my knees (laughs). That itself could have thrown me off course. That was scary. 

To add to my woes, this 11-year-old child I played had to undergo a transformation. I had to tear away bits of Rohit's childhood in every scene in a very subtle way. To keep Rohit's graph going through several intermittent schedules was amazing. 

Sounds excruciating.

I was also doing three other films -- Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon, Mujhse Dosti Karoge and Na Tum Jaano Na Hum -- at the same time. I was tearing my hair before every schedule of Koi... Mil Gaya. I made sure I had at least a day's break to get into character.

Your dad told me you would check into a hotel to prepare for your character.

Yes. I needed a secluded place where there would be no visitors or phones. I would just sit and go through the script. It used to overwhelm me each time. I'd be choked with emotion. I realised the essence of being a child was happiness. Kids always try to find reasons to get happy. I sat there in the hotel room trying to make myself happy. I binged on chocolates and cakes not caring about my weight. I watched all my favourite films when I was a kid, like Superman. It was the first film I saw.

How far have you grown as an actor since your last film with your dad?

I don't know. I think I was far more organised and prepared when I did Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai. During Koi... Mil Gaya, I didn't know what I was going to do until I actually gave a shot. I think I worked harder in Koi... Mil Gaya. 

I made sure I had enough time to prepare, though finally, I was on my own before the camera. 

Am I too corrupted as an actor to play a character as innocent as Rohit? (thinks). No, I think I am far more innocent now than I was when I did Kaho Na... Pyaar Hai. 

Koi... Mil Gaya has given me a chance to relive my childhood. 

Koi... Mil Gaya is also being compared to Steven Spielberg's E.T.

I guess every film about an alien landing on earth on a spaceship would be compared with E.T. Apart from that, there is no similarity between the two. We have only heard about one film that shows a bond developing between a human and an E.T. But there are scores of them. 

How the audience would react to this alien film is scary. But it is about time we gave the audience a new, intelligent movie experience instead of going by their expectations all the time. 

Having said that, I'll let you into a secret. Koi... Mil Gaya is TOTALLY Dad's film. A complete entertainer.

Films are doing well again. Does that add to your hope for Koi... Mil Gaya?

Good films do well all the time. Kids are going ballistic. Their expectations are making me more nervous. 

Before the film's first preview, I couldn't sleep. Now, with the positive reactions. I'm less anxious. I'm sleeping better.