Who works through dengue?
When I felt a fever coming in Durgapur during ‘Gundays shooting,I got it checked but it didn’t show up in the reports. I wasn’t given the option to not shoot. Nobody told me that if you are not feeling good,take some time off,but I was told that “Buddy,we know you are not feeling good so how do we make you feel better so that you can shoot.” So I finished my shooting,came back to Mumbai and straight away went to the hospital.
You’ve had quite a few health scares. As a hyper energetic guy,how are you coping?
I’ve noticed that whenever my shirtless picture appears in the newspapers,something happens to me. The first time it happened I had my back injury during ‘Lootera,’ then shards of glass pierced my foot and now before ‘Ram Leela,’ I got dengue. I’ve been told to rest and sleep till my energy levels come back but I’m getting stressed. I feel as if time is running out. I’m not getting any younger. There are so many films that I want to do.
Did working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali in Ram Leela make you discover something new about yourself?
I like to believe I’m the ultimate Bhansali hero. Apart from the looks I need to be taller,fairer and better looking but in terms of the personality,I have it down pat with the craziness,the madness and volatility. Bhansali and I come from the same school of melodrama we both love it so when we work together,we combust.
Did Bhansali live up to his reputation of being difficult and demanding?
Sanjay doesn’t like script readings which was very different from my experience with YRF and Vikramaditya Motwane,who believe in extensive readings and finding the pitch during workshops. Bhansali is itching to get on the set. He makes his film on the sets. He keeps improvising and thats why hes a demanding director.
He expects his actors to be on their toes and be ready to deliver whatever he asks for. He might take four hours to light a frame with the intention of shooting a two-page talkie with perfect dialogues but at the last moment he might turn the scene into a silent one.
I did over 50 hours of readings for ‘Band Baaja Baaraat’ and got in the the habit of over preparing and here comes this man (Bhansali) who gives you two pages of monologues 10 minutes before roll time and you are supposed to deliver. And hell be relentless. He wont give up. Hell go all night if required. He throws you the challenge but he will also support you. Hes like a mother to a child.
If you have a breakdown scene and you dont feel like crying then hell say well do it tomorrow. He fiercely protects his actors moods and spirit. He understands that in cinematic storytelling,the magic comes from the soul of the actor. He knows the audience connects with the emotion so he always gives his actor that respect. People say that his films are not doing well nowadays so I always tell them that form is temporary but class is permanent.
So what sort of lovers are Ram and Leela in the film?
They are hardcore lovers. The premise is that it begins with physical attraction. You lay your eyes on the person and you feel you want to do that person. Ram and Leela are absolutely lattu (crazy about) over each other. They are all over each other. The messed up part is that as strongly attracted they are to each other,they are from warring clans. They have the kind of chemistry where they want to rip each other apart. They have a burning desire to be with each other.
Have you ever experienced this personally?
Yeah man,Im very susceptible to this feeling. It has happened to me quite a few times. Its not surprising,since in my line of work we encounter a lot of attractive people all the time.
So how do you deal with it?
I just go for it,yaar. I go with what my instinct tells me. Ive always believed in being upfront about my feelings. I go in with my heard first. I dont play games. I just dive in. Its damn difficult because when you go all out,you leave yourself vulnerable.
How do you deal with heartbreaks then?
There is a thrill in that also. Im an emotional masochist. I go in with the right intention. I believe that if someone breaks your heart then they are the losers.
Tell me about Deepika Padukone. What is that one trait you want to steal from her and that one trait of yours that you want to give her?
I want to steal her composure. In the one year Ive known her,shes faced many stressful situations but shes lost her composure only once,that too not in public. She maintains the perfect mental and emotional equilibrium. As to what I want to give her,its really nothing. I wouldve thought my shamelessness and uninhibitedness,but shes so uninhibited in ‘Cocktail,Chennai Express’ and ‘Ram Leela’ that she doesnt need anything from me.
Lets talk about your cinema choices. Till now youve played different versions of a loverboy. Do you want to veer towards masala movies?
Ill kill them,buddy. Lets face it at some level,these films are brainless,they lack a certain amount of credibility but I love those films. Im your typical first day night show at Chandan (a single screen theatre in Mumbai) audience. If theres anything Im born to do,its films such as ‘Dabangg,Tezaab’ and ‘Rowdy Rathore’.
So whats next?
After ‘Ram Leela’ there will be ”Gunday’ and ‘Kill Dil’. Personally,Im ready to get inked. Its like getting married. You are ready when you are ready. I know what I want to get done on my body. I know what it needs to represent but I dont know how to express it yet. Ill have to create it.