Posted by Fenil Seta
Upala KBR (DNA; January 20, 2017)
He’s been through a lot these past couple of years. And you’d expect Hrithik Roshan to be quiet, reclusive, haggard or listless after the toll his divorce from Sussanne Khan and the Kangana Ranaut controversy must’ve taken. But when we meet, it’s easy to see he’s anything but that. He is actually buzzing with energy and positivity. He doesn’t meander while talking (like he used to). He is crisp, clear and to-the-point with his answers. Here, we talk about his labour of love, the passionately made Kaabil and how the clash with Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees won’t change a thing between them. For this and more, read on...
You never see a top actor taking on roles with disabilities. And yet, you did this thrice (Koi Mil Gaya, Guzaarish and now, Kaabil). What drives you to accept these roles?
I don’t know. I think I get very drawn to them because something about these characters resonates with me. I understand the pain, their frustration and probably that’s why I get drawn to such characters. Also, the fact that it’s not just the character, these were scripts that I really enjoyed and therefore, the films, too. It’s not just the fact that the character is handicapped.
How do you manage such intense, challenging roles?
I don’t know any other way to do it. If I don’t immerse myself completely into my character, I don’t think I will be able to do it well or even say the dialogues. I will be worse than a non-actor, so, the difference will be that much. I have to immerse myself in that character to that extent, so I can live it.
Isn’t it draining to play such characters, film after film?
On the contrary, it’s intensely fulfilling and satisfying. It’s not the act of emptying so much as venting what is inside you. And when you do that, you feel satisfaction, satiated and experience a sense of fulfillment. You feel peaceful. So, it’s cathartic in many ways.
Was it more difficult playing the visually impaired character in Kaabil than let’s say, the character from Koi Mil Gaya?
Yes, because your entire world IS what you see. My brain has to dissociate from what is happening in front of me, even though I’m not blind and to pretend that I am not being stimulated by light or not reacting to something that’s moving really quickly right across my face or a fly that is lurking right in front of my face. To not react to these things are spaces where you need to develop your skill to overpower your instincts. Your instinct will be to flinch and react to a bright light, to not frown when you are shooting in a really hot, bright, afternoon. You will squint. All these were the challenges of playing a blind guy. I got a lot of help from Sudeep, the cameraman and we managed. But yes, this was definitely tougher.
What was the most difficult thing about Kaabil?
Nothing was ‘most difficult’. Everything was difficult and everything was so easy. The difficult part was the blind parts — doing action scenes and dancing as a blind person. We prepped for it beforehand and that was so enjoyable! There was so much passion for this film, to build this film and make it. Working with Yami Gautam was so wonderfully bright and invigorating! That all came from the script and everybody was so passionate about doing something very special. So everything just worked out and the most difficult thing became very easy.
Did SRK’s announcement that he’d be releasing Raees the same day as Kaabil shock or hurt you, since the two of you are close friends?
No. I was not shocked. I thought that any good businessman would do the same thing. They are allowed to do that. I am not in their shoes. First of all, we would not have announced on someone else’s date, but that’s the way it is. They may have been in a genuine problem. I have the understanding as a human being and as a businessman that what they are doing is the best that they could have done for their film. Friendship is in one place and business is at another. You have to understand that this is an industry and money matters.
Did you call SRK to try and sort it out?
Yes, yes, even Shah Rukh has tried to not clash. He spoke to my dad. I sat and spoke with him about this and I guess he put his best effort out there and it was not possible… It won’t affect our friendship. On the contrary, this will lead to a better understanding of each other, which will lead to a better friendship, also.
You always seem so gracious and positive…
There is no other better way to see it. What’s the other choice? I cannot be upset! They have a film on release and they have to do the best that they can, so once you empathise, you understand.
Have you signed any new films post Kaabil, including Karan Malhotra’s next with Sara Ali Khan?
No. Those are just rumours. There have just been talks, but I haven’t signed anything yet. I am looking for work (laughs)!
Do you see yourself directing in the future?
No. Never. I don’t think I can. I don’t know why… I don’t have the calling to direct. I don’t write scripts. I can think, but I know that the internal calling is not there so till that is not there, I can’t do it. I enjoy every aspect of filmmaking — including post production from editing, sound, design, visuals, VFX and dubbing, I don’t just enjoy acting but the entire film as a whole. I cannot just do my scenes and say goodbye.