All the light he can (not) see

Published On: 2020-05-09

Author: Sayoni Sinha

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All the light he can (not) see



Source: The Hindu 

By: Sayoni Sinha 



Hrithik Roshan on the challenges of playing a visually impaired man in Kaabil, the clash with Raees, and why he is finally at peace with himself Hrithik Roshan’s tastefully decorated sea-facing residence in Juhu is a good reflection of his current state of mind. Everything in his house is white and bright, mirroring his outlook towards life. “The rooms have their own compartmentalized spaces for things, and that’s how it’s in my head as well.” The walls are adorned with graffiti and quotes, family portraits and souvenirs Roshan picked up during his travels abroad. “Building this home was really about discovering myself. I have never been a decider in my life. There have always been people around me who would choose for me, so doing it myself was a leap of faith,” says the star as he readies for the release of Kaabil, a project that was equally challenging. 



Eyes wide open 


In Kaabil, the actor plays a blind man who is out to avenge his wife’s death. For Roshan who has earlier essayed the roles of persons with disabilities (Guzaarish, Koi Mil Gaya), playing a visually impaired man was more arduous. “The eyes are one of the most involuntary muscles in our body so if a light is flashed, they will automatically close. Not reacting to visual stimulii was a challenge, and it took some time to not react. While shooting dance or action sequences, I had to be more alert than I have ever been in my life,” he says, adding, “Shooting for Kaabil opened up my mind and has been a great learning experience.” 


While the film has consciously tried to stay away from stereotyping his and Yami Gautam’s characters, the star had initially prepared his role in a way that would draw sympathy from the audience. But his perception changed when he met a few visually impaired people while researching his character. “I realised that we have a conditioned mindset about what a blind person’s life is like,” he says, revealing how the team went back to the storyboard to rewrite the scenes realistically. “We have been very responsible in that respect and neither the film nor the actors radiate a sense of sympathy or neediness. Yes, both are visually impaired, but they have, very courageously, overcome it and are leading normal lives. That’s the truthful portrayal of the blind in our society.” He adds that playing such characters is “intensely fulfilling and satisfying.” 



The art of war 


This realistic portrayal came with its own set of challenges, especially while filming the action scenes. “It is difficult to perform stunts when your character can’t see.” While shooting, safety measures were taken and a lot of impetus was placed on timing the choreographed sequences. “You have to anticipate the blow and react in time or else the other person’s fist will hit you.” The most difficult scenes to shoot were the ones where he had to look ahead and predict the punch coming from different directions. “I really worked hard on the action scenes, which had to look real. If the punch didn’t fall right, I had to go in for a retake.” 


Much is being speculated about the film’s fate at the box office as it takes on Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Raees, which is releasing the same day. But Roshan is not losing sleep over it. “Worrying about something that isn’t under my control is a waste of time,” says the actor, whose last outing, Mohenjo Daro, didn’t fare well at the box-office. “When a film doesn’t do well, I see it positively. You are being shown the reality about the mistakes you have made.” While the actor is confident about his film and believes that “the audience may see both the films or neither of them”, the clash means both will eat into the other’s business. Despite that, he is positive about both the films’ fate. “While it is disheartening to see two potentially good films splitting the business, that’s how it is. I really hope that the best comes out and wish both films do well at the box office,” he says diplomatically. 


The actor admits that it has taken some time for him to reach this state of zen, where he tackles setbacks without losing himself. The last few years have been turbulent for the 43-year-old actor, who was in the news over his divorce with Sussanne Khan and his alleged relationship with Kangana Ranaut, which saw much mud-slinging and subsequent legal notices hogging the limelight. “You should learn from these impediments and move on,” he states matter-of-factly. He adds that he doesn’t react adversely to roadblocks anymore, and approaches them as a problem that needs to be solved. “Now, I get excited if there’s a problem to solve as they are like a workout for my mind.” 



Note to self 


Unlike most actors, Roshan doesn’t like to indulge in self-criticism once the film is out. Self-reflection? Definitely. “I might not like seeing myself on screen, but I have to do it. You must have the courage to face yourself and see how good or bad you are without being conscious about it. I have a fair view of the calibre of my skills and I am a pretty good judge of my worth. So, I see my work accordingly and if I feel I’ve reached my potential best, then I am happy.” 


And while he moves on from his films, some characters he’s portrayed on screen have stayed on with him. “I have revelled in the characters I have played onscreen, whether it is Rohit or Raj from Kaho Na Pyaar Hai or Rajveer from Bang Bang, who was almost an extension of Aryan from Dhoom 2. What stimulates me is becoming a person who is better and more courageous than what I am in real life. Even putting myself in my character’s shoes in Kaabil [who has to win a battle that seems impossible] gave me the strength to live my own life,” he says. “I learn from my characters.”