Unlike his 'cooler' younger brother, Ronit Roy with his salt and pepper hail: is the more serious kind. In fact, both brothers are very different. Their lives, attitudes and personalities are as unlike as chalk and cheese. Also, unlike his younger brother, Ronit had a tough ride up.
Ronit wanted to enter the world of acting because he just couldn't see himself sitting in an office doing a 9-5 job. "I was a drifter, a nomad," he says, adding that acting was a good bet. At the time, he envisioned being a hero. <b1>
"Mujhe hero banna tha. I went into films for just that; the money, glamour and star status." But destiny had other plans for him. Though Ronit debuted in a film Jaan Tere Naam that did well at the box office, it did not make Ronit the star he aspired to be. And that was just the beginning of a struggle that lasted years.
"I had no work for almost seven years. My films had flopped and though some TV happened, nothing really worked. It was a bad phase. I had nothing to do, nowhere to go, but somehow didn't lose heart," he says.
Ironically, hit badly by his initial failure as an actor, he went towards what he had tried to escape from in the first place: a job.
"Money became a problem. Dad had passed away and sometimes even managing two square meals was difficult," says Ronit. After dabbling in the stock market and doing bit roles in TV serials, he formed a security agency Ace Security and Protection - that became his mainstay.
He started by giving protection to film stars and now his agency safeguards some of the biggest stars and production houses in the industry.
A star at last
It was during this period that a television acquaintance asked him to audition for a role in Balaji production Kamal. He got the part but nothing happened for 18 months till Balaji chief Ektaa Kapoor called him and asked him to play Rishab Bajaj in Kasauti Zindagi Ki.
That was his big break. The serial became very popular as did Ronit's character. "We didn't expect Rishab Bajaj to become so big. Especially since all serials were and remain women centric. No one expected a male character to become so popular," he says.
But it did. And from a struggling film actor, Ronit Roy became one of the biggest stars television has seen. Ask him how he feels about his success after all those years of failure, and his answer stuns you.
"It doesn't make too much of a difference. I am not philosophising. It's just that I don't take life too seriously. Success and failure do not matter much to me. But yes, my lifestyle has changed. I drive a bigger car, have a better house and am earning well, but that's it."
Brother 'O' brother
But television hasn't given him just success. It has also thrown him in direct competition with his actor brother Rohit. But Ronit claims he has never seen his brother as a threat.
"Why should there be a threat?" he laughs. "We have never had any competition. We aren't fighting each other. He is my younger brother. He's been like my son. And you aren't jealous of your son's success, you are just proud of it." And is Rohit a perfect son?
"Well, he has his faults. He is stubborn and very rigid, especially when it comes to his family. But he is a good boy and I am proud of his achievements," smiles big brother.
The Rishab Factor
The name Rishab, feel both brothers, has brought them a lot of luck. The name Rishab has worked like a miracle for them. Rohit started with a bang as Rishab Malhotra in Swabhimaan, and Rishab Bajaj in Kasautii Zindagi Ki gave a new lease of life to Ronit.
"Yes, the name Rishab has spelt success for us. Whoever said, 'what's in a name', stands corrected today. At least in our case," laughs Rohit.
I am a star. Girls find me hot and also cool and I know it," says the dude of Indian television, Rohit Roy. Arrogance, huh? "Call it that, but I feel it's just self-confidence" says the actor not very modestly.
Arrogance or attitude
But he doesn't deny he is arrogant either. "I am arrogant because I know I am good. I know what I want and I understand how to do things," he says. <b2>
"And I have no inhibitions in admitting I don't know something and then learning it," he adds. So, is this the attitude that has made him say "no" to some big banners in the film industry?
"Absolutely. Look, I may sound standoffish but the truth is I have a certain picture of myself. I know what I am capable of and get livid when people undermine that. I respect work but I'm choosy." And does he get irritated when he is offered small roles in big films? "You are putting it mildly," he laughs.
"I get mad... mad and angry. I simply say 'no', however big the banner may be." But isn't that a big risk, considering that many actors would do anything to be offered a role by a big name? Rohit doesn't think so.
"It is not as if I am asking only for 'hero' roles. I am ready to play characters; but only those that have something to them. In Ek Hasina Thi, I had a 20-minute role but I was on the screen for the entire duration. Even the role of Fattu in Shootout at Lokhandwala, wasn't of the main character. He was part of a gang but had his own identity. These are the kind of roles I wish to do. Is that asking for too much?"
A story to tell
Given his unbending attitude and the fact that he became an actor by 'accident', he has done quite well for himself. In fact, he even made its directorial debut recently. Rohit has directed one of the films in Sanjay Gupta's Dus Kahaniyaan.
"I really feel strange. I always wanted to direct but always thought that you could become a director only after you had seen life. I didn't believe I would get that chance so early in my career," he says.
He was nervous in the beginning. After all, he was directing Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi, two of the best actors in the industry.
"But they showed so much confidence in me, I was reassured," he smiles. Now, Rohit is hoping for the best. "Given that I have proved my acting abilities, I'm sure I'll be a good director too," he says with his characteristic confidence. <b3>
Ironically, Rohit entered the acting world by 'accident.' He was set to go to university in the US but was refused a visa. That was when he realised he had no "fall back plan". He started attending older brother Ronit's shoots and working with Kunal Kapoor's ad agency.
"I started getting modelling offers and began earning good money. So I just carried on," he says. He got his first TV serial Swabhimaan by sheer luck.
"I was called in for a screen test but was rejected at all stages. Somehow, director Mahesh Bhatt spotted me while going through the reject tapes. I don't know what he saw, but he felt I suited the role. I think it was his conviction about me that convinced all the others including Shobhaa De who thought I had very yuppie looks. And suddenly I was Rishab Malhotra."
That role made him a familiar face in TV households. And suddenly, Rohit was the hottest dude in the soap circuit.
Big bro pangs
With both brothers acting in the relatively small world of television, isn't there any sibling rivalry? None whatsoever, asserts Rohit.
"We fight all the time. Ronit has to comment on everything I do. Whether I buy a car, or even a spoon, he has to find a problem with it. But that's all at home. We have no professional rivalry. Ronit has been like a father figure to me. I can't compete with him. I remember going to temples with ma to pray for him when he wasn't getting work. So how can I get jealous of his success now?" Ironically Ronit never wanted Rohit to take up acting.
"I was good at academics. Ronit thought I would become an IAS or IPS officen He was disappointed when I started acting," he laughs.