The sun's merciless at 2 p m. In his Bermudas in a becurtained room, he waxes modesty.
I have to use a stepney to yank out the fact that from July 27- 29, the Masala! Mehndi! Masti! Festival in Toronto will unspool his wildly diverse films including English August, Thakshak, Split Wide Open, Mr and Mrs Iyer, Kaalpurush and Pyaar ke Side Effects.
Meanwhile, Whisperers, the two handler with Manoj Bajpai, which he also wrote the screeenplay for, snagged the Best Editing and the Best Thriller awards at the Houston film festival.
And at the neighbourhood multiplexes, he will be seen shortly in the children's film Chain Kuli ki Main Kuli. Later this year, there will be Aparna Sen's The Japanese Wife.
Expectedly, after the success of Pyaar ke Side-Effects last year, he matters on the masala meter too. "I'm quite happy to have been on different points of the compass," he says, with his flair for instant imagery. Ergo, the inquiry:
So towards which point of the compass do you travel now?
Ha! My north will always be art house world cinema..that will always be my kababs and parathas, my favourite food. (Chuckles) Of course, I always want to break that with Chinese food, sushi and French.
To be honest, at this point I would really like to do a film on the lines of
. I could be an older suicidal cop with a younger bushy-tailed guy.
How old are you?
Thirty-nine. Just the right time to fly through the air with guns blazing..no one's ever asked me to do that even if I've been playing rugby for 25 years and played cricket in school. When I was 12, Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi would coach me at the Bombay gym.
How come you're never invited to the IIFA and GIFA?
(Wryly) Because I never win awards in my own country. I've only won international awards - the Best Actor award at the Singapore festival in 2000 and the Best Debut Director at Palm Springs in 2003.
You've never been considered for an award at home?
I keep hearing how close I was to winning. But I'm not going to take names of the awards or the films.
<b1>Were you expecting to win for
Mr and Mrs Iyerat the National Awards?
Aah, Aparna and Konkona (SenSharma) won the awards desdervedly..they could hardly give it to three people for the same film. Khaliddddd, I'm not getting into this! (Sips
juice) This is refreshing.
Don't be evasive. Every actor loves winning awards.
Theek hai. As a first-time director, I won over 53 others at Palm Springs. So go figure.
How come you're still not in the mainstream movie world so to speak?
Because I don't exercise power. And this is not a case of sour grapes..I don't believe in this kind of power. I would never make it to the Top 100 Bollywood Power list.
The politics of power means you can determine and direct people's lives..you're riding on top of a tiger. You can't jump off even if you want to. I'd rather ride on a BEST bus.
Bus..have you been on one of late?
No, not in 20 years. I meant that figuratively.
Which car do you ride in?
That's what my niece Aliya says too, "Not bad." You're sounding like her.
Whom would you rate as the powerful people of Indian cinema?
Frankly, only those who realised the dreams for which they entered the industry - with the minimum number of compromises. Their voices will be heard..they have been artists and they have been authentic..
One, Dilip Kumar. Two Aparna Sen. And three, Manmohan Desai whose movies may have had men in red suits zooming all over the stratosphere on mobikes..but he had a clarity of thought and vision which he never compromised.
How come Mira Nair and Deepa Mehta have never cast you..although you seem to be their kind of actor?
They are extremely empowered human beings, they have created wonderful moments of cinema. Your question is unfair to an actor.
How can I counter that?
By saying that I have worked with other wonderful directors? I would unreservedly work with Mira and Deepa. I've heard from others that for an actor they..and Shekhar Kapur..are very special directors.
<b3>Do you feel underused?
No, I feel incredibly fulfilled. For every English August, I have a Jhankar Beats.. and for every Split Wide Open I have a Silsilaay. This ecleticism hasn't been done consciously..I have an appetite for everything..maybe to find out what gives me indigestion.
You walked the ramp at a glitzy fashion show.Are you trying to be fashion icon?
What! I just did that for Rajesh Pratap Singh..he's amazingly creative. As for that icon thing, you can say I laughed uncontrollaby, broke into high-pitched giggles and had to be carried off to the asylum.
Seriously, my wardrobe is below average in quantity. In terms of quality, I do take care to pick out my suits.. all Indian.
Do you ever regret doing movies like
I regret Bombay Boys because I acted so badly in it...the graveyard scene especially haunts me! And I could have been better in
... but otherwise I'm proud of my work.
Why haven't you directed a film in over six years?
Because I've been getting good acting work. But I'm on the fourth draft of my script, I should be directing again in October 2008.
What would you say is the difference between Mallika Sherawat and Konkona Sen-Sharma?
(Grins) They are the same persons with different names. Seriously, Mallika and I come from such polarised worlds that I was afraid that we wouldn't like each other. Purely by chance we did and do. Konkona and I come from the same world..the table cloths in her house could have been my mum's choice.
From which table has this movie
Chain Kuli..suddenly materialised?
I beg your pardon. It's a real contemporary children's film which respects children. Today's kids are are believed to be cynical, impatient and record-breaking quick on the uptake.
So, you need to give them a film that satsifies these three criteria and also appeal to the part they're trying to hide..the child in them. Ken Ghosh, the driving force of the film, has a 10-year-old son ... Ken's got his finger bang on the button.
<b5>Guess what I'm about to ask next.
It's been six-and-ahalf years since I split...
Does that mean you've become a saint after Koel Purie?
I'll tell you what. I'll auction my chastity. But really, love comes from everywhere. All that's left is sex and that… uh you know umm…I'll tell you..(counts on his fingers urgently ) and.. and.. let me see. Got it. After a break of 2280 days, it could be just around the corner.