Neha Maheshwri (BOMBAY TIMES; April 3, 2017)

He is the quintessential Sooraj Barjatya's Prem on TV, but in films, Gurmeet Choudhary has always played a casanova. This time, though, he is doing a family entertainer - Laali Ki Shaadi Mein Laaddoo Deewana - purely for his fans. Ahead of the film's release, BT catches up with the actor for a candid chat about breaking away from the erotic hero image in Bollywood, working with star kids and fatherhood. Excerpts...

Are you looking at Laali Ki Shaadi... as an opportunity to break away from the image created by your previous erotic thrillers?
On television, people pictured me as Prem, which Salman Khan has been known as. Whenever people met me, they'd say that they wanted a husband like me for their daughter. But in movies, you don't have a choice. Wajah Tum Ho and Khamoshiyan weren't the kind of films my fans would have liked to see me in. Many said that they couldn't watch those films with their families. They wanted to see me romancing and dancing. So, when I heard Laali Ki Shaadi's script, I knew it's a character my fans would love and it is impactful as well.

You said your fans couldn't watch your previous films with their families. Given a choice, would you have chosen your career differently?
Not at all. Where I am today is a dream for so many people. When you don't have a filmy background, you can't be choosy. But yes, in the process, I declined some movies, too. I believe that you get work because of your previous projects. If I sit back and think that I want to do only a big-banner film, I would just be waiting.

How comfortable were you working alongside star kids in the film?
I have done too much work on TV and have also done a couple of films to be intimidated by star kids. I am a silent person on the set; I am respectful of other actors, but am not inhibited by them. Akshara (Haasan) and Vivaan (Shah) are simple and good actors. They were very grounded and we had fun on the sets. I used to tell Akshara that I have been a great fan of Kamal Haasan ever since I watched Chachi 420. Similarly, I would talk about Naseeruddin Shah with Vivaan.

In recent days, we have seen nepotism in Bollywood being a topic of discussion. What's your take on it?
The industry is ready to help if you are talented and hard-working. I agree that it's easier for a star kid to enter Bollywood, but that brings along with it a huge responsibility. They have to meet the standards set by their family. As an outsider, I don't have to face that pressure.

You recently adopted two girls - Pooja and Lata - from your hometown...
I am a big fan of Superman; he has the power to do nice things for human beings. We can also do the same using our power as a celebrity. Debina and I were thinking of adopting a kid since a long time. It finally happened last year after we discussed it with our parents. We have planned everything for them very carefully. I think it's just a start because people keep talking about women empowerment, but nobody takes any steps. I think I have done the right thing and hope people will follow it.

When are you bringing them to Mumbai?
That will need planning as such decisions can't be taken overnight. The girls come from a rural background, so bringing them here immediately will be a cultural shock for them. We are focussing on their education right now. We will do everything according to their comfort. We have not set a specific time frame because that will be put pressure on them. Similarly, there is no pressure on them to take my surname either. They call us Gurmeet and Debina, so we are friends. In today's time, the relationship between parents and kids should be that of friends. So, I don't mind them addressing me by my name. Debina and I talk to them every day. My life has changed after adopting them. I have the responsibility of looking after them.

Do you plan to have a biological kid anytime soon?
We haven't thought about it because we are busy in our careers. We haven't done any family planning and will take the step when we are ready.