Cine Blitz ... May 2003

Published On: 2012-03-23

Author: unknown

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“I could have become a Monster after my Success!”


Source: Cine Blitz (June 2003)


Heartfelt with Hrithik! 

The media mania is missing this time around, but in our opinion, Hrithik Roshan still ROCKS. Why? Because, you see, he is still on top of it all. Because, despite the flops, the low phase and everyone questioning his credibility, this boy has displayed admirable spirit. And most importantly he has learnt from his mistakes. He hasn’t gone down under, he’s fighting back with all that he has and believe you us, his unquestionable talent will see him rise and rise again. Don’t we all love a winner? You bet we do, especially when it’s a good fella like Hrithik! 

Hrithik has escaped the spotlight and is currently doing what he does best – making movies. We pinned him down for a tete-a-tete on the eve of the release of his film, 
Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon and had him talk to us about life the and now…

It’s 9:30 in the morning and the Roshan residence is a beehive of activity. There is a steady stream of cleaners and house-helps as they go about polishing the silver and setting trays of steaming hot cups of coffee and tea for the as-yet-to-rise household. Hrithik is being bludgeoned by his mother to wake up and entertain his guest. He is still fast asleep after a late night from the day before. She despairs of rousing him, but we assure her that Pearl his cat, is entertaining company and will do until the time his master wakes up. Pearl has decided that we make for a comfortable cushion and has plonked himself, without so much as a by-your-leave, in our lap and is nosing our aromatic coffee, which we desperately try to keep out of his way. 

When our quarry arrives, we almost choke on our coffee. He has put on weight and is sporting a spiffy hairdo! Well, well, wonders will never cease! He says he was required to put on weight for Farhan’s film and he has been hiding the hairdo from prying eyes, under a cap! Fitted out in a Giorgio Armani tee and lounge pants, Hrithik’s looking fabber than fab and utterly fresh! He tells us that it will be one man’s conviction – Sooraj Barjatya’s – which will make Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon work at the box office. “He has worked so, so hard on this film that I know he has to get the returns of his labour,” he says. 

He has been keeping a pretty low profile, he admits. Work has kept him busy and he enjoys his private moments, something he didn’t have during the two years following the release of Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai. “I don’t instinctively enjoy a lot of attention. I have learnt to enjoy it because I have accepted it as a part of what I do,” he explains. “Otherwise, I would much rather be on my own. I don’t like courting the spotlight!” 

He has been remarkably tolerant with it, though. Does he feel used by people? When he was successful, everyone constantly demanded his time and attention. Now that things are a little different, he has been heartlessly done away with. He laughs at the dramatic comment. “I wouldn’t say that I have been ‘done away with’. The only difference I see in the number of magazine covers I get these days! Otherwise, the fans, the people I work with, all treat me just the same. And I don’t think people were using me. Everybody was doing their job. I have always seen myself as a product, a product that was in demand. And by that logic, everyone wanted a part of me. That’s okay, it’s bound to happen, right? Only thing is, I would feel constantly exhausted by the demands on my time and privacy. That would get to me a lot. But I never felt that I was being taken advantage of”! 

Did he, at any point during the period we call The Madness, allow himself to get used to the pampering, the star treatment, the circus? “Not at all,” he retorts. “It makes me very uncomfortable, in fact I can’t deliver if I am treated like that. I lose my stability completely. I get unnerved by it all. It’s very important for me to be real, to be grounded. Y’know, when I returned from my world tour and my show in South Africa, I came back saying that what I had seen and experienced there was unreal. It was an illusion. I realized then, why people get carried away. The reaction to stars is staggering. But I knew that it wasn’t real. They (the fans) react to a part of your talent, which has been built up to a fantastic level by a team of men. When you are on stage, the awesome lighting makes you look like a Greek God, and there are 50,000 gizmos highlighting you. Everything builds up that one part of your talent to an unrealistic level and this is what people respond to. If you take all that back home and kid yourself saying ‘that was all me’, you’re in serious trouble. At the end of the day, you are singing somebody else’s song, you are dancing somebody else’s steps, you are playing someone else who is not you! 

“So, no, I never allowed myself to be swayed by stardom. I was very careful to look at everything happening around me and to me, objectively. It kept me grounded. In fact, at the peak of all that hype, certain directors I was working with made me very uncomfortable because they were so awestruck by me. I found that they were not even willing to tell me that my shot was bad! I would have to sit with them and explain to them that they had to treat me like a newcomer and not a star. That I was ready to give 30 re-takes if they didn’t find me up to the mark. That is why I say my best work will always be with my father. He never treats me like a star but yet respects me as an actor! That is perfect for me.” 

Like Hrithik has said time and time again, the period post Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai was one of great soul searching for him. Especially after his father was attacked. The insecurities, the pressures, the uncertain future, Hrithik frankly admits to his inability to deal with it. Today, looking back he reasons, “Anyone would react like that. It had become too big. Bigger than what I could understand, even though I had been brought up in this industry and knew how it akk operated. I thought it was unfair to me and to the other actors that I was being made out to be this untouchable God. Everyone was reading so much into that one hit of mine. I received invitations from Prince Charles, Madonna, Nelson Mandela. No one was willing to look at the reality. No one was being honest. And at that time I was hoping and wishing that someone would see things as they were and not jump onto the bandwagon everyone else was a part of. That never happened and it disappointed me. I am not saying that I didn’t like the hysteria. Of course, I enjoyed it, who wouldn’t? but in my honest moments, I knew that it was make-believe. I have grown up here. I know what a truly great star is all about. When Lata Mangeshkar walks into a room, people quietly get up. Now she is a true star. There is no frenzy or craze about her. A great actor’s life is about years and years of consistent good work. It’s not about tamasha. The silent respect is what eventually matters.” 

Did he pay too high a price for fame? The attack on his father, the flops, people questioning his credibility….

He thinks that over for a long time and then replies, “There is no question of paying a high price. Isn’t this what life is about? I never questioned my success so why would I begin questioning what came after it? I learnt that whatever happens, happens for the best. My present phase is not a result of my stupendous hit. It’s because I did bad films. Now I am more careful because I have learnt that there is no need to do three or four films. People would scare me saying that I should have three or four releases a year because what happens if I do only one film a year and that fails? But I know now that that’s not how things work. I have hit stable ground and I can afford to do things my way. At the moment the only film I am shooting for is Lakshya.” 

Typically, Hrithik has taken a positive approach to the bumps on the road. Perhaps, it has something to do with the fact that his talent was never in question. “If that had happened, it would have shattered me. I probably would have lost all my fans. And people would have made fun of me. That hasn’t happened. So I have been reassured.” He reveals that some of the finest directors of the industry called him and encouraged him after some of his films flopped. “They told me that they had seen a true star in these bad films. They told me that I stood out, even amidst all the filth that was happening around me, in these films. They told me that they felt bad that while I seemed to be giving so much to the film, everything else had failed me. Tell me, who wouldn’t be motivated to do better after hearing all this? Not that I am absolving myself of any blame. It was my decision to do these films, after all!” 

Industry insiders insist that Hrithik is under tremendous pressure from his father to sign the kind of films that he feels are right for him. But how wise is that, considering Hrithik would be in a better position to judge what is right or not right for him? 

Grimacing he states, “This is an allegation so preposterous that I don’t even want to answer it. It’s ridiculous. Our family is an extremely democratic one. No one has ever forced anyone in my family to do anything. Dad and I are like friends and I have always sought his advice but the decision is ultimately mine. In fact, my father had told me not to do some of the films that I eventually did, but I was the one who decided to go ahead and do them. I have learnt from these mistakes. My father has always allowed me to do anything that I have wanted to do. There is no question of him forcing his views upon me!” 

Isn’t it true that he got an offer from Hollywood to play Spartacus and he turned it down?

Laughing he replies, “That’s because I am not ready to wear a skirt right now. I am very happy in my jeans and tees! No, but seriously, I am not ready for Hollywood right now. I am happy doing my running around trees bit!” 

So it really isn’t true that he is under a lot of strain because he is unable to take his own decisions regarding his career? 

“No, it isn’t true. Nobody has a say in what I do. My only problem is that I can’t deal with displeasing anybody. It makes me uncomfortable and sad if I feel that I have hurt or wronged someone. This can really play on my mind and reflect on my performance. Even on the sets, I need to have positivity all around me. Any kind of negative emotion disconcerts me. I hate that and react very badly to it. In very many ways, I am not that strong. I have realized that. Earlier I would have said that it doesn’t matter how people are to me because my work is more important. Not anymore. I am too sensitive to people, especially those I am working with. I have to be okay with everyone or I can’t operate.” 

Is that why one senses a certain aloofness to him? Is he protecting himself from hurt? 

“No, not at all. I am not an aloof kind of person. I like being with people but I also need to balance it out with periods of solitude. I need my space. I can’t handle being with people all the time.”

One question that has been at the back of our mind is why Hrithik Roshan, after showing so much promise, suddenly stopped growing as an actor. The reason he had created a storm in the nation was because he was such a breath of fresh air? Was insecurity the motivating factor? Hrithik rules out our reasons. His explanation is that he accepted the kind of films he did because he had no choice. People who had seen him in Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai, wanted to cash in and do the same thing with slight variations. “It’s a tendency in the industry to make what has been successful, to re-work what works. They all want to play safe. They want to be secure. They like to know that they have the security of a formula, a tried and tested one. Whatever I did, I was being re-sold as the Hrithik Roshan of Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai. 

“The only person who will show me in a different light is my father again with Koi Mil Gaya. This is the only film after Kaho Naa…in which I feel I have grown as an actor. My father has been able to tap a different side of me. You know why? Because this man has the guts and the strength to try something new, something different. Nobody else has been able to do that with me. I got sick of saying in my interviews that I am playing this character who is pure, clean, of good conscience. I got sick of doing the same thing over and over again! I know that I didn’t need to do it. But at that point, as a newcomer, I was given no choice. My attitude was different at that point of time. Banners mattered more than scripts. I realize how stupid I have been. I have seen my oown father, who is such a good filmmaker, fail so many times in life. It is human to fail. My approach to films is very, very different now.”


Everything that has happened to him, has happened so intensely. Has he ever wished that he had seen success in a milder, more gradual way? Would it have been easier for him to handle?

“Not really. This was the hand that was dealt out to me for two years and I liked it the way I got it. I like intensity. I am an extremist myself. I believe in blacks and whites. If you tell me something is ‘nice’, it becomes bad for me. The kind of success I saw was just what should have happened with someone like me. It was right. I don’t think anyone else would have been able to handle it. Think about any other person getting the kind of success I saw… I was made into a God. Just imagine what would have happened if that person began to believe all that was happening to him. He could have become a monster just like I too could have. 

“I could have had my way with everything and anything possible. I could have done anything that came to my mind. I could have said anything and gotten away with it. The kind of power people gave me was dangerous. An entire city (Kathmandu) almost got burnt down because I was supposed to have made inflammatory comments about Nepal. It’s not just power. It’s dangerous power. I could well have misused this kind of power. I don’t think any one human being should be given this kind of limitless power or importance. It’s wrong. If it comes into the hands of the wrong person, there can be mayhem. And this is why I feel that it had to happen to me: nobody else could have remained as unaffected by it all!”

Yes, Hrithik could easily have morphed into a monster. A lesser mortal would have. Instead he has evolved into an even stronger, self assured human being, whose current capacity for plain speak just takes your breath away! More power to him!