Wish upon a star

Published On: 2012-05-17

Author: unknown

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Wishing on a star


Two upcoming films could make or break Hrithik

The hysteria Hrithik Roshan generated through Kaho Na Pyar Hai would not have led anyone to imagine that three years down the line, in 2003, 'sinking career' or 'last-ditch effort' would be phrases linked to the actor. In 2000, his physique, his acting and dancing made women swoon and men envious. Even the fact that he had six fingers on his right hand probably took up more news space than was spent on the career graph of some actors.

A lot has changed since. His subsequent films prompted comparisons to Kumar Gourav, whose debut Love Story was the only hit the actor has to his credit. But the industry hopes that with Rajshri Production's Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon and father Rakesh Roshan's ambitious Koi... Mil Gaya set for release, Hrithik can regain lost ground. "My performance received critical acclaim in Kaho Na Pyar Hai, Fiza and Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham," says Hrithik. "Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage, Mujhse Dosti Karoge, Yaadein and Na Tum Jano Na Hum flopped, but I enjoyed doing them and my performance in these films too received praise. Had I been criticised, my confidence would have taken a beating."

After Kaho Na-barring Kabhi Khushi, in which he starred with Bollywood biggies Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan-Hrithik failed to ignite the box office. Mission Kashmir did not work, and candy floss romances such as Yaadein, Na Tum, Aap Mujhe and Mujhse Dosti Karoge just hastened the downward spiral.

The industry agrees that the fault did not lie with Hrithik. "While working on Fiza, he always came prepared," says film-maker and critic Khalid Mohammed. "He understood the finer nuances of the role and added much to the character. He is one of the best among the present generation of actors."

Trade analyst Amod Mehra agrees. "There is hardly any flaw in his performance," he says. "He did his best even in ordinary roles like in Kabhi Khushi. The expectations from Hrithik were too high after the success of his debut film, but his subsequent films were dull. It was the film-makers who had failed. There was no variety in his roles." Bollywood felt it was on to a good thing and in time-honoured tradition it went for the overkill. Hrithik got stereotyped-something that can prove fatal even for more established actors. "Commercial success is absolutely necessary, but it is important to find a balance between commercial success and artistic satisfaction," says Hrithik.

Main Prem promises to be the typical Rajshri fare with a love triangle, of Hrithik, Kareena Kapoor and Abhishek Bachchan. Industry insiders say that the film is bound to get a good opening. "One flaw, though, seems to be the music," says one insider. "Good music is a must for a love story and it has not been done too well in this."

Koi..., tentatively scheduled for an August 8 release and made on an estimated budget of Rs 30 crore, is being hyped as India's first science-fiction flick. Rakesh Roshan and Rekha play Hrithik's parents. Hrithik plays a mentally challenged man who befriends an alien. "Science-fiction has a very important part in the film, it is not the Star Wars kind of film," says film-maker Rakesh. He has roped in James Colmer of Australia-based Bimmini Special FX, and Hollywood technicians Mark Kolbe and Craig Mumma for the film's special effects.

Rakesh scoffs at the idea that his home production is a venture aimed at relaunching Hrithik. "Relaunch?" he asks. "He has never gone anywhere. The media says he is finished and we are relaunching him. But he has worked with all top banners in the industry because he is a disciplined actor. He is sincere and dedicated. There is no film-maker today who does not want to have Hrithik in his film." According to Hrithik, "It is an experimental film and it took me eight months to convince my father to make it. Had it been a relaunch vehicle for me, I would have been cast in a star mould, which is not the case."

Rakesh says they had not expected Kaho Na, which was made by him, to be the monster hit it was. "Film-makers (who had signed him on earlier) also did not expect Hrithik to become what he became," says Rakesh. "So they started altering subjects and somewhere things went wrong."

For his part, Hrithik is not taking any chances with run-of-the-mill projects. He has reportedly returned the signing amount of films to be made by big names such as Ramesh Sippy and Smita Thackeray because he did not like the story ideas. At the moment, he is only doing Farhan Akhtar's Army flick Lakshya. He is also rumoured to be in discussions with hit-maker Mani Ratnam. But his immediate lakshya (aim) is the commercial success of Main Prem and Koi...

I have paid back for my flops

By Srirekha Pillai

In three years, Hrithik Roshan has witnessed the ups and the downs a career in the film industry can bring. But the 29-year-old has kept his feet on the ground through the superstardom, 30,000 marriage proposals on Valentine's Day in 2000 and unsavoury political controversies, not of his making, in Nepal and South Africa.

Reason to smile? Hrithik with Preity Zinta in Koi...

Sitting in a plush suite in a five-star hotel in Mumbai, Hrithik is on a short break from Farhan Akhtar's Lakshya, being shot in Ladakh. He is wearing a cap, which hides his close-cut hair. "I was born with more hair than this," he says and sets the tone for the interview.

While shooting for Kaho Na Pyar Hai, it is said that you used to be up at 3 a.m. to get a scene right. Do you still do that?

I sleep only six hours nowadays. It's very hard to sleep sometimes because there is a sense of restlessness.

In the days after Kaho Na, you said, "I've worked for Rs 50 and I got Rs 100. I've kept that extra Rs 50. One day they might want it back." Have you paid it back?

(Thinks for a while.) I have finished paying them. I am quite hopeful about Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon and Koi... Mil Gaya. I am waiting to start on a clean slate.

None of your recent films has done well at the box office.

If a great film had failed, I would have been shocked and would have lost focus. But the films that didn't run deserved not to run. A good film runs, while a bad one doesn't.

How much does the failure of your films affect you?

If a film doesn't do well it affects my professional life. But it is no reflection on my talent. We need to make good films.

You've gone slow on signing films.

At present, I am doing Lakshya. I will also be doing a film with Raj Kumar Santoshi. I have seen a few other scripts, but they did not excite me. I have realised that I don't need to do films if I don't get a good script.

How much are you like the goody-goody characters that you play?

I try to imbibe the nice qualities of the characters I play. But, it's not so easy, especially in this industry.

You've worked with film-makers of repute. Who brings out the best in you?

My dad (Rakesh Roshan). No, Subhash Ghai. No, Sooraj Barjatya. All of them are big film-makers. You actually expect me to answer that? (Laughs.)

You've worked for the first time with Abhishek Bachchan in Barjatya's Main Prem. Was there competition on the sets?

No. We had a ball. Abhishek is one of the finest actors of my generation. I believe there should be no competition between actors. If you like Abhishek in the film, that is a compliment for me as well.

How is Koi..., your home production, shaping up?

It's a film which will drag you into the theatre. I play a man with the mind of a 10-year-old. The story is about how he changes. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

You've been married for two years. What does marriage mean to you?

It is my stress-buster. When I go home to Suzanne, everything else pales into insignificance.

Do you intend starting a family soon?

I need to grow up first and that's something which I don't want to do!