Where have you disappeared suddenly?
I've been here.. just shooting and chilling out. If you mean I've cut down on work, you're wrong. I'm doing things at my own pace. I'm in the midst of completing Summer of 2007, Hamilton Palace and there's Dhokha.
Does it bother you that your recent batch of films hasn't fared well?
It doesn't. Hopefully, the audience and the media understand that. I've always been loved...even in a flop film, I've been noticed. Not all films work.. sometimes, the tide is against you.. Jhoom Barabar Jhoom is a case in point.
Why didn't Shabham Mausi work?
For various reasons.. it was a project close to my heart. I wanted it to work.
<b1>Is there an audience for serious cinema?
Yes, there is. But the quality of filmmaking has deteriorated. They don't make films like Saaransh and Arth any more. But the growth of multiplex culture has given a shot in the arm to the so-called intelligent cinema. That's heartening. But the only triumph of multiplexes is the comfort level they've brought into movie viewing. Today, watching a film is an enjoyable experience.
It's not the pull of the movie alone that brings in the audience.. it's also the lure of shopping and eating out in the same multiplex.
Why do you always get attracted to negative roles?
(Laughs) Out of the 30 films that I must have acted in so far, only two characters.. in Dushman and Sangharsh.. were negative.
You think you need a change of image?
Absolutely not. I'm happy with whatever I have achieved. The fact that I've been accepted in the showbiz fold.. that I still get wonderful roles.. is more than enough.
You once attempted to break into the hero mould with Pardesi Re and Chot. Do you still harbour ‘lead actor' ambitions? I'm not averse to the idea. Actors like Amitji (Amitabh Bachchan) and Anil Kapoor once played smaller parts.. today, they sell movies on their own. For me, it's always been about a strong role. I could have act ed in 100 films in these 13 years.. I chose to do only 30 films.
If you do fewer films, isn't there a possibility of fading out of public memory?
No, I don't believe in that. Prithviraj Kapoor saab never did fancy films.. he acted in few movies.. but he's remembered. I don't think it's important to be all over the place.. to lap up every project offered.
I have never acted for money yes, I feel secure at .. the end of the day to have money but I don't run after .. it.
Do you think you've got the recognition you deserve?
If that were the case, I wouldn't be talking to such esteemed newspaper as yours. Film critics have been kind to me.. they have liked my work. There's a sudden rush of actors from small towns. What's wrong in that? I'm from a village. Dhirubhai Ambani was from Chorwad, Amitabh Bachchan from Allahabad.. they made it so big.
Do you think your wife, Renuka Shahane should do more work?
She's a super actress.. but not a superwoman. In 2001, we got married.. a year later, we had our first child.. and in 2004, we had another baby.. lately, she's been writing scripts for Marathi films.
You started off with the TV show Swabhimaan. Would you do a serial today?
I'm an actor.. not bound by any medium. I can do all kinds of roles.. in theatre, films or TV.
How about saas-bahu sagas?
Oh, I wouldn't mind doing one if I'm offered.. provided it's a lead role, and not a sidekick.. pushed-to-the background kind.