Three of your recent films — ‘Happy New Year’, ‘Dhoom 3’ and ‘Bol Bachchan’ — have been multi-starrers. Does it ever bother you that a bigger star may steal the show?
I don’t have that kind of ego. And it’s not just because I have worked with senior actors such as Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Ajay Devgn. If you look at my career, I have acted in many ensemble cast films with my contemporaries such as Hrithik Roshan and John Abraham.
What impressed you about ‘Happy New Year’?
The story. Nandu (my character) is the most outrageous I have ever played. I like to take on work that pushes me as an actor. We had to create the character from scratch. Farah Khan (director) and I spent a good one year on it before filming. People who generally don’t perceive comic roles as hard work, don’t know anything about filmmaking.
Have you changed the way you choose films?
No. My decision to sign a film has always been simple — whether I want to watch that film. It has to be an emotional decision, never a strategic one.
You’d said in a recent interview that in retrospect you realised you should have been in better shape for
Dhoom 2 but couldn’t because you had to gain weight for ‘Guru’. Have lessons like that taught you to do lesser films now?
I don’t do one film a year, but I try to do a film at one go now because that makes more sense. It helps that the industry is a lot more streamlined. So it is possible to do one film at a time or owning two sporting teams while pursuing an acting career.
Your Kabaddi team Jaipur Pink Panthers just won the Pro-Kabaddi League and Chennaiyin FC is about to start its campaign in the ISL. How important has sports been in your life?
It has been a great teacher for character-building, self-belief and team work. I have been into sports ever since I went to boarding school in Class IX. I was the captain of the basketball and athletics team. Sports equips you to deal with life better, which influences your approach towards acting.
How self-critical are you as an actor? Which films would you rate as your best and worst performances?
I am very self-critical. I don’t like any of my performances from the past, and it’s good that way because you can always do so much better. My worst performance was Refugee (2000), I couldn’t do justice to what JP Dutta had envisioned of me. I was too young and inexperienced.
Tell us about your upcoming films.
There is Umesh Shukla’s ‘All is Well’, where I go back to doing a family drama after ‘Om Jai Jagdish’. But the best part about Umesh’s film is that although it talks about serious things, it handles them light-heartedly, just the way he did it in his previous film ‘OMG-Oh My God!’. It’s about a dysfunctional family where Chintu uncle (Rishi Kapoor) and I play father and son. And then there’s ‘Housefull 3’.