You are regarded as the go-to guy for urban love stories,such as Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na!,I Hate Luv Storys and Break Ke Baad. Now youre coming up with a rather old-fashioned love triangle in Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai Dobaara!.
Once Upon…Dobaara! is the kind of film weve stopped making; it will make you laugh and also cry. The new generation of filmmakers have Hollywood as their reference point and theyre scared of overdoing emotions or melodrama. But Im of old-fashioned sensibilities too. I like to be swept away by a film,cheer and clap while watching it,root for the hero. This film fits that category; it entertains.
Its a two-hero film with Akshay as the other leading man. Were you comfortable with the idea?
I wasnt sure at all if I wanted to do this film. I met Milan Luthria (director) because Ekta Kapoor was the producer and she is fabulous. Milan gave me the script for Once Upon…Dobaara!,which sat in my room for weeks while I was shooting for Matru Ki Bijli Ka Mandola with little intention on my part of reading it. During a break in the shoot schedule one day,I picked it up and couldnt stop reading. I called Milan immediately. I signed the film soon after,without a narration.
But arent narrations the norm of the industry?
I find narrations monotonous and start to zone out after a while. Ive not had once since after Jaane Tu days. Its a myth that narrations give you a better idea of how the film will turn out. Once a director gave me a fabulous narration,playing out all characters,but when I asked for the script,it was a four-page document with almost no details that he had so passionately spoken of.
And are you flexible if changes are made to scripts after youve signed on?
Ive burnt my fingers before and learned my lesson. Not a word in Jaane Tu differed from what I had read in the script,whereas what people saw of Kidnap was completely different from what I had signed on in the first place. Now,I do films only if I get a bound script,at least I can hold someone accountable in that case. What if I decide to change my character while shooting for a film? Will that be acceptable? Why have different rules for writers/directors and actors?
Youve played the confused young romantic hero in most of your films. But in Matru Ki Bijli Ka Mandola,where you played a mature man,it didnt quite work. What category does your latest character Aslam belong to?
Matru was a risk from the beginning; we always knew that. It was a film on the Naxal movement but we didnt want to play up that angle before the films release because we anticipated trouble. But I am happy with the feedback that the film and I got. I pulled off something I wasnt sure I could because Vishal Bhardwaj (director) saw in me something I had not. With Aslam,you will see a character growth where he turns into a man from a young lad. He earlier views things in black and white and blindly trusts Shoaib Bhais (Akshay Kumars character) judgment. But gradually he matures and starts to view things differently.
Did you sign Once Upon…Dobaara! to make up for Matru at the box office?
One cannot consider box office because one can never tell what will work. So one dismisses that criterion first when signing a movie. And anyone who is trying to sell you a script based on box office is lying. What works at the box office and why can only be viewed in retrospect. I sign on a film based on only one factor: will I want to watch it?
When you made your debut,only Ranbir Kapoor and you were the contenders in the young stars category. Today,the industry is nurturing several newcomers. Where do you find yourself in this scenario?
The industry has changed tremendously in the last five years. The audience exposure to cinema has changed and so have their expectations. While there is audience for Once Upon…Dobaara!,people are also watching Ship of Theseus. Today,there is no template for a hero and one sees talented actors such as Ayushmann Khurrana and Arjun Kapoor in the industry too. In all of this,I want to create a niche for myself. Id call myself an acquired taste. Im not an easy guy to like in real life as Im not as warm and chatty as many others. But I like that because it offers a challenge to people to understand me. Some take it,some dont.
Your career graph is always compared with that of Ranbir Kapoors.
But why compare? We are not mobile phones; we are two very different people and actors.