You once said that Karan Shergill of
Lakshyaemerged from your own confusion when you were standing on the crossroad of life. Did you feel a similar bond with either of the two Karthiks?
No, I didn’t and perhaps that’s what made the role so emotionally exhausting for me. Both the Karthiks were far removed from my personality. So it was a stretch reaching out to them. Even the story is unlike anything you’ve seen in Hindi films before.
Fleshing out the characters called for long conversations with the director (Vijay Lalwani), figuring out the smallest detail, right down to Karthik’s normal expressions. We debated on whether he should wear a smile, a frown or just a blank look.
It was a challenge pulling off the drastic personality change one of the Karthiks goes through. I also had to play both in a way that they seemed almost like an extension of the same person. It was tough!
Being a director, did you find yourself offering suggestions on the sets?
I did have inputs as an actor, questioning, analysing and even criticising is part of what I do. Even when I’m calling the shots, I expect my actors to come up with feedback on their characters. But my inputs were limited to my performance. It did not extend to discussing a scene with a DOP or cueing Deepika (Padukone) on her role.
Talking about Deepika, she admitted recently that when working on the film, she was very conscious of Farhan Akhtar, the director and hoped to make a favourable impression on you, so that you’d cast her in your next film.
(Laughs) Really? She never mentioned that to me. Well, I was impressed with her as an actress. And there’s an absolute possibility that I will direct her some day.
There’s a scene in the movie in which Deepika has to use all her persuasive charm and Bollywood moves to get you to join her on the dance floor. Was this scene straight out of real life?
(Laughs) You’re wondering if my wife had to ever pull me onto the dance floor, right? Never. Both Adhuna and I love dancing. Even in this scene, I had to literally force my feet to stay still.
That’s what I mean when I say that Karthik was nothing like me and called for a lot of preparation going into the shoot.
Yeah, we’ve heard that you actually cut yourself away from friends and all that was familiar to flesh out this introvert. Did the film take you away from your wife and children too?
I couldn’t bring myself to cut off from Adhuna, Shakiya and Akira. My children are still very young and they wouldn’t understand that the job demanded that I go away.
But yes, I’d did stop meeting friends, answering the phone and even exercising. The character I was to play was lonely and feeling sorry for himself. I ended up feeling depressed too.
Akira. Did the name come from the
Seven Samuraidirector, Akira Kurosawa?
Yes, I am a fan of his.
So which of your films is a favourite with Akira and Shakya?
It’s a kid friendly film.
Luck By Chance
Your sister Zoya is ready to go on the floors with her next film. It was to star Ranbir Kapoor and Imran Khan but now features Hrithik Roshan, Abhay Deol and you. Did the change in cast necessitate changes in the characterisation too?
Yes, some of the characters changed but the story is the same and very exciting. I’m looking forward to working with Hrithik and Abhay. I respect them hugely as actors.
You are just a day older than Hrithik. Are the two of you alike?
I don’t believe in the notion that people can be broken into 12 groups according to the signs of the Zodiac. I believe that you are a product of your environment and Hrithik’s upbringing has made him a good, large-hearted person.
The role Abhay played in
Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltdwas originally written for you. While watching the film did you imagine yourself as Persi?
I was more than happy to just produce the film. There are no regrets about not acting in it because all the actors who were in it were so apt for their parts.
Ever imagined yourself as a rock star?
Never! In fact, till the music of
released and people responded to it so overwhelmingly. I was really nervous about my songs working. I have to thank composers Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy and also director Abhishek Kapoor for believing in me as an actor and singer.
I’m also really proud of Arjun (Rampal). I’ve seen him really work for the part of Joe and he made it so believable. It’s great that his efforts were recognised and he bagged the prestigious National Award.
Weren’t you supposed to sing for
Bluetoo? Which song?
I don’t know. Tony (D’Souza) wanted me to sing one of the songs but I was really busy.
When you start working on Zoya’s film, will you be content to remain just the actor and producer or will you be a co-director too?
I’ll never be her co-director but yes, if I have inputs as a director, I’ll give them.
How different are the two of you as directors?
(After a thoughtful pause) That’s difficult to say. I guess the difference lies in our choice of material. That apart, we are both are very focused on our prep (pre-production) work and performances.
You started out with the slightly off-beat,
Dil Chahta Haiand
Lakshya, then veered towards more commercial cinema with
Don. Would you advise Zoya to do the same, given that as a producer you need to keep a project’s viability in mind?
I’d never advise Zoya on such matters unless I think there’s something drastically wrong with her script, which in this case, is perfect.
Even then it would be more in the capacity of a brother and friend rather than a producer. She’s free to follow her own path.
You start shooting the
Donsequel this year with Shah Rukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra. Will it be a bigger challenge than the previous film?
Maybe, given that unlike the previous film,
The Chase Begins
, this time I won’t have a blueprint to follow when I take the story forward. But that also makes it more exciting. We start shooting in October.
Dil Chahta Haisequel?
We plan to make that one too.
Rock On!!also have a Part 2?
As of now, there are no plans but if Abhishek comes up with an idea, I won’t stop him.