Seeing you after a long time… you’re hardly in Mumbai these days.
I don’t fit here anymore; the city has become so crowded… no trees, only buildings, and people all running after money.
Post-Krantiveer you were the highest paid actor in Bollywood.
‘Beech mein paisa kamani thi’ (I was in a hurry to earn money)...s I wanted to buy a house. Now money is no longer important. How much you charge depends on how saleable you are. A talented actor always gets less than a commercially viable star.
You could have cashed in on the Nana wave too, had you not chosen to go away. Any regrets?
I’ve never regretted any decision I’ve taken and this one gave me a lot of happiness. There are so many other things you can do in life, besides acting. I read, I farm, I have fun. If you can afford to be choosy, why not? ‘Iss bhed chaal mein kya karna?’ (Why be one in a crowd?). You know what our biggest problem is?
Population. Everyone wants more FSI because his or her families are growing bigger. Like China, we should also implement the one-child rule and give people an incentive to follow it.
May be we should start teaching family planning in school?
Why not? I don’t understand our present education system. It doesn’t focus on your child’s talent but only whips up the competitive spirit. What’s the use of learning science, history and geography if you’re not going to put it to practical use?
And what’s your take on the campaign to save Irani cafés and heritage buildings? Isn’t that what Tum Milo Toh Sahi is all about?
Yes, the Irani café that Dimple (Kapadia) runs in the film is threatened and we rally around her to save it because it’s a symbol of our culture. (Sighs) I’ve been to many such cafés not only for the ‘bun-maska’ that they served, but because these Iranis were part of my extended family.
Well, today, the city is supposedly only for amchi Mumbaikars.
‘Yeh kiska Mumbai hai, mera to nahin’ (Who’s Mumbai is this? Not mine). As I said, I no longer feel at home here.
How do you feel about its divisive regional politics?
When Shastriji (Lal Bahadur Shastri) was the Prime Minister, our heads would naturally bend before him. Not anymore. Politics today is so ugly; it’s not for me.
But you’re doing a film called Rajneeti?
That’s for Prakash (Jha). ‘Achcha film hai’ (It’s a good film). He understands politics, he stood for elections too. We had a great time during the outdoor shoot in Bhopal. Rampal (Arjun Rampal), Ranbir (Kapoor), Manoj (Bajpai) and Katrina (Kaif) were all there. I was there for a month and cooked for the unit at least 15 days.