People will forget me

Published On: 2012-03-22

Author: unknown

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“Today people find me interesting…tomorrow they are going to get tired of ME”


Source: Young Times

YT”S Mumbai correspondent, VICKY INDANI met up with Hrithik Roshan on the sets of Karan Johar’s Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghum for an informal chat. The chat became the basis for this interview. 

I first met Hrithik on the sets of Kaho Na… Pyaar Hai. At that time he was an unknown entity, and I was an upstart lensboy, driven by ambition. I went to Madh Island to check out this newcomer, this son of Rakesh Roshan. Hrithik turned out to be a casual boy. As he waited for his shot (the one on the yacht, where he teaches the gorgeous amisha to cook omelette) we spoke about the tan makeup on his face, which he revealed was for the double role he was playing in the film. ”We are trying to make the characters look different and are distinguishing then through make-up, clothes and mannerisms”, he said. It was a sunny afternoon, and Hrithik was, as I said, casual and friendly. Cut to 2001 and I met Hrithik again, this time on the sets of Karan Johar’s Kabhi Khushi... He was a star now, but that hardly showed in the way he chatted with me. He was as adorable as ever…as casual, as friendly. Bring a photographer, I wanted a photo-shoot, but the occasion was not right. But chat we did. I hope you enjoy what I have here for you…

Young Times (YT): Did you always envision acting as your ultimate goal?

Hrithik Roshan: To be very honest, I always wanted to be an actor, ever since I remember. But I had to work around a lot of my own handicaps, for instance I had a speech impediment, which I had to work around, and then again there was that question of physique. I was a very weak child and so even as a teenager I was very underweight. So those were two departments I really needed to take care of it I wanted to come within any proximity of realizing my dream. As a child I remember every time I passed by a mirror I tended to look into it and mimic certain stars I knew. It was then that my mother noticed me and even secretly showed my dad what I was doing. Oblivious to me, it was, like, their private joke.

YT: Yet, you made your debut as a child artiste?

HR: That was by default. I remember dad had scripted Bhagwan Dada and the role of the child was central in the film, he did not have me on his mind even remotely. He had already cast another child artiste but when the first schedule was nearing and all things, including Sridevi’s and Rajnikant’s dates were worked out, the kid who supposed to play the part came down with jaundice. There was panic and they were not sure they would be able to find a child artiste at such a short notice. It was then that my grandfather suggested that my father cast me, but dad was unsure. I was very shy as a child, so dad wondered whether I could display that level of confidence on screen. He asked me whether I would be confident and I said. “YES. After that, there was not looking back- I could not let my dad down. Before Bhagwan Dada, I played a two-bit part as the younger version of dad in Aap Ke Deewane but that was a you-blink-and-you’ll-miss kind of a role. I got it because I used to dance unhibitedly at ever kiddy birthday part I attended.

YT: Obviously, Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai was your dad’s dream project envisioned for his son?

HR: Contrary to all beliefs, Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai was not meant to be my launching pad. Right from the beginning, dad has been a strict disciplinarian neither my sister nor me were pampered unnecessarily. When I was 18 I showed a certain amount of interest in filmmaking and dad said that I could join him as an assistant. Even at that time, my ambition was not to be a hero. I always wanted to be involved technically. I was interested in editing and other aspects of filmmaking.

My tenure as an assistant taught me dignity of labour. When I reported for work on the very first day I remember that I was surprised when my father, on seeing a speck of dust on the set, took a broom and began to clean it himself. That was an eye-opener. From there on, I began doing all the work myself.

I have always hero-worshipped dad and I do believe that I should follow whatever he does. When I had worked with dad all through Karan Arjun and Koyla dad asked me to go to the states and do a course in animation because I had shown a great deal of interest in that. So I gave my GRE and was all set to leave, but I was very restless. Simultaneously, dad has thought up the story of Kaho Naa… he initially wanted to cast an established star in the film. I remember during one of the meetings with the writers when someone suggested that the film would work better with a newcomer. That suggestion really appealed to dad. I happened to pass the room at that point in time and dad very casually said, “Would you act in my next film?” It was like a dream come true. I went totally blank for the next few minutes. Dad followed me and said, “ What is the matter?” I remember I had tears in my eyes. It was always made very clear to me that I was a part of the film because I suited the part. The film was never made to accommodate me.

YT: How did you overcome all your weak points?

HR: I really worked hard. I visited a speech therapist. I began taking classes in acting and diction and I asked dad to give me 3 months to work on my body. I tried to worn out on my own for the first month but I realized that there was hardly any improvement. Then I realized that time was passing by so I decided to take some expert advise on the art of bodybuilding. I decided to go to the best in the business, Salman Khan. I reminded him that I was Rakesh Roshan’s son but I don’t think he could place me. But to his credit, he took me in and treated me like his younger brother. He trained me in the art of fitness, as if you ask me he is one of the biggest contributors towards the person I am today.

YT: Once you were ready, the film began rolling, right?

HR: No, there was a lot more that went into it. There was a problem of the heroine. Kareena had been signed on at first but she had some problems, so we had to search for another girl. The girl’s character in the film is very important so we could not take any chances. Luckily, for us, amisha was dad’s friend’s daughter and she suited the role perfectly and our project began rolling. When I look back, I find myself most childish at times. I remember telling dad to give me more emotional scenes and I remember dad reminding me every time, “ I will do what is correct for my film.” Mom was like this buffer at home. Dad and I would always discuss the film at home after shooting. All through the making of the film I ate, drank and slept my character.

YT: With all the hard work, the runaway success must have been a vindication, right?

HR: I will be honest. I had expected the film to be successful but this degree of success was simply unpredictable. I was like a nervous student; I had expected passing marks. I had even braced myself whether the film was a hit or not I would be happy as long as they accepted me. I had the bare minimum expectations from the film. But what happened was just mind-blowing. It was like a wild dream come true. But barely had the feeling of being a hit sunk in when my father was shot at. And then the whole story just changed- happiness simply converted itself into sorrow and what remained was despondency and helplessness.

YT: How did you react to the news of the shootout?

HR: Dad has always been protective about us kids. But I was amazed at his bravery- even with the bullet he went to the police station, at first. And then, he was trying to keep me protected. He found out from mom where I was as asked me to stay put. Those were the most traumatic days I recall. I was very disillusioned. I almost gave up my career; I thought it was my success that almost caused my father to die. I had made up my mind that I would not sign any new films. But then, dad sat down and talked with me. He said that the cycle of life didn’t move that way, and that I would be giving a lot of people what they wanted if I turned my back now. Acting is my life but I was willing to give up my life. I had my priorities worked out.

YT: Of course, now you have the most plum banners in your kitty, is that the result of systematic career planning? It is believed that your father has a great say in the film you sign?

HR: I have never really had the time to plan things out. I hear a narration and if it appeals to me I go ahead and sign the film. There are times dad does not even know the subjects. As far as money matters are concerned, I am very bad at them. Since childhood, I have been an extremely content person, so I remember when I went to sign my first film I was most happy when they paid me 50,000 rupees. After that, dad decided to step in rightly so. Subash Ghai has this habit of seeing all my dad’s films just before they release. He had seen Kaho Naa… He had liked my performance and was keen on signing me. That is how Yaadein had worked out. Infact, he came to sign me for Yaadein on the night the film was released- that is how that worked out.

YT: Did you get affected by all the stardom?

HR: I would be lying if I said I did not. But thankfully, there is my family that keeps me grounded. I remember I had my first outing after the film was released. It was in Delhi. I just got carried away with all the adulation. There was this strange swagger in my walk and I really began behaving like a spoilt brat. Then I saw my mom looking as me quizzically from the corner of her eye and I felt so small. The way I behave reflects on the way they have bought me up and I don’t want them to feel let down in any way. Stardom is a state of mind- today, people find me interesting, and tomorrow they are going to get tired of me. I am prepared for that eventuality and that is what keeps my feet on the ground. I respect their feelings today; I will respect their feelings then.

YT: Your career has been shrouded in controversy. There was a Nepal imbroglio sometime ago. What was that about?

HR: That was the worst nightmare I have had. I did now know where that came from. I never said anything to that effect and before I knew what was happening there were riots ensuing. My only regret is that people lost their lives. It was a totally baseless issue.

YT: Marriage is a big step, more so if you are an actor who is the heartthrob of the female population of the nation?

HR: I knew I wanted to marry Suzanne. I have been mentally married to her since the time I have been seeing her. So the actual marriage was just a formality. It was amazing but when I saw Suzanne for the first time I felt she was someone special. I remember I saw her on the traffic light and I came back and told a friend of mine that I found her very attractive. My friends said that she was also enquiring about me…and after that we got introduced, and the rest is history. One thing I must mention here is that as soon as I knew my mind I told my mom about it and she, in turn, told dad and all went well. I have always maintained that marriage is a luxury one should be in a position to afford. I finally reached a stage when I thought I could afford to get married but then I did not have the time to take a few days off. So I had four days off and I could either do it into Subashji’s schedule or Karan Johar’s, and Karan was obliging enough to allow me to take a couple of days off for my honeymoon. As far as my fans are concerned I think they have always accepted Suzanne as an integral part of my life because a lot of fan mail I get does enquire about her too.

YT: How does it feel to get married?

HR: There is one person who is constantly looking into my needs and pampering me and who does not want to be pampered. It feels good.It has made me responsible but in a good sort of a way.

SNAP SHOT: VICKY IDNANI describes his impressions on Hrithik

The famous “ four free days” line reminds me of the time when he tried to make me feel good just by saying “ If I do not get married in those four days then I shall do a photo shoot with you.” The man continues to work hard today. He is shooting for Karan Johar’s Kabhi Khushi…

During my interview with him Hrithik spoke about his success and how it has a toll on him and his family…and about how people had misconceptions about star lives without really understanding the hardwork and pressure associated with them. Hrithik said he was not disturbed by the word ‘competition’. He said that he didn’t consider other newcomers as rivals. He very fondly spoke about his friend Uday Chopra in the film Mohobattein. He also had fond words about the film’s other star, Preethi Jhangiani.

After the interview I asked him for a photo shoot.

“How would you like to photograph me?” he asked me.

“Intense, passionate…perhaps a wee bit sad”, I replied.

“ Then I need to grow my hair,” he said. I was bowled over by the man’s eye for detail.