Twenty-nine going on 29, he’s Hrithik Roshan’s closest chum, lives in star-sprinkled Juhu and made his first major splash on an ad campaign for cigarettes. Unbeknownst to many, M F Husain altered the script of Meenakshi when he felt the newcomer couldn’t quite deliver the heavy duty Urdu dialogue..but today the vulpine actor’s life and career are waltzing.
The apartment is extra neat..but his room is in a mega-mess. Yeah, he’s been on the move..plus he was feeling a bit under the weather..now he’s okay.. but hello, he isn’t at home. No worries.
Five minutes later, he bustles in and speed-talks, “It’s 10, let’s have dinner..no? ..how come? ..aren’t you hungry?.. okay I’ll get you some tea.. if you don’t mind I’ll attack my khaana.”
A pure vegetarian, he went meaty for nearly a month, didn’t think it was all that big a deal, and has returned to daals, carrots and beets. He tucks in, fast motion.. I ask:
Do you know a section of women consider you a sex symbol?
(Deadpan) Yeh sab rumour hai, yaar. You wouldn’t like such a tag? No, no..I’d be thrilled. If I’m being called a sex symbol, I’m sure I am one. And if they aren’t calling me that, then let me tell you that I can be a sex symbol (chuckle chuckle).
Have you ever come across any whacky female fan?
They’ve all been sweet, so far. Frankly, all this affection is not for Kunal Kapoor..they adore Aslam, the guy I played in Rang De Basanti.
Now, can you tell me all about the women in your life?
Are you asking me or threatening me?
Asking of course.
(Smiles) What? What?
Aren’t you dating Dia Mirza?
That’s a part of my private life. There are two ways of dealing with any talk about link-ups — shout from the rooftops that you’re NOT seeing the girl..or don’t say a word. I’ve chosen silence.
But in print she has said that Kunal Kapoor is very cute.
I’ve no idea about this. Has she? But if you ask me if I were to pay a compliment, I would call up that person and say that she’s cute.
Are you saying that you’re single?
I can be single..double or even triple. I have multiple personalities. So even while being single I can be with another person.
Now, that’s a headbanger. Chalo, I’ll change the subject..
Evidently, life is hectic.
Not hectic, super hectic. After Rang De Basanti, I didn’t shoot for eight months. I wasn’t exactly sitting idle, I was into loads of endorsements. Milan (Luthria) offered me Hattrick, I loved the concept.
Of late I’ve been going through several scripts, shooting around the clock..and loving every minute of it. After all, no actor would like to just sit idle at home. In all probability, I’ll have four releases this year which will be too much of Kunal Kapoor to tolerate (laughs).
What would you say of the attitude of filmmakers towards you today?
Once your film clicks, attitudes are bound to change. That’s absolutely natural... you wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the success of Rang De Basanti.
See, it’s plain economics. A producer will hire you for the returns he can get in the market. Earlier, there would be some offers, today there are more.
Have you changed?
(Smiles) Me and change? No yaar, I’m the same. But I’m not a stone who’ll remain unchanged for centuries. I would say, I’ve gained confidence now.
Working in the Yashraj camp – with Madhuri Dixit in Aaja Nachle — must be quite a high for you.
I guess I lucked out. It all happened so fast..suddenly I’m in a Yashraj movie where every actor wants to be..and makes it a point to say in their interviews, “Oh, I’d love to be in a Yashraj film.”
You didn’t make a pitch to get into Yashraj?
Pitch? You can never pitch for Yashraj Films. Adi (Aditya Chopra) called me. I met him.. he offered me two films, I grabbed the opportunity.
You didn’t ask for the scripts?
Adi did give me a narration when I met him for the first time. I loved what was narrated and I signed up.
Is it more exciting for you to work with Yashraj or Madhuri Dixit?
Have you been paired with her..or is she opposite Akshaye Khanna?
I’m not telling you anything about the film. You know everything has to be under wraps. I can’t tell you, I just can’t. If I open my mouth, I’ll be thrown out of Yashraj.
Okay…so what’re you doing in Laaga Chunari Mein Daag directed by Pradeep Sarkar? Or shouldn’t I ask?
Yes, you shouldn’t ask. I loved his Parineeta..but then again let me just say, these opportunities make me feel that I’m blessed, that I’m lucky.
What’s luck got to do with it?
Life’s not fair always. It’s all about being at the right place at the right time. I can never take credit for whatever little I have achieved. It’s an amalgamation of so many factors, including luck.
It seems Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra can’t find a leading man for Delhi 6. Why haven’t you been considered at all?
That’s Rakeysh’s call entirely. As far I’m concerned, I want to be associated with every film he does..in any capacity. I assisted him during Aks. Even then I would often find myself in front of the camera. Rakeysh would make me do that to check the shot.
Why don’t you tell him you want to be in Delhi 6?
Don’t worry, he’ll come to know that I want to be on the project after reading this interview. (Laughs) Maybe he’ll appoint me EP (executive producer) to take care of the production stuff. I’d do whatever he asks me to.
Finally, where do you see yourself five years from now?
I don’t even know what’ll happen next week or tomorrow. Maybe five years from now, it will still be very hectic..and I’ll be eating my dinner and giving an interview.