You remarked earlier that this is a landmark role in your career. Why?
It’s because of what the film Why Cheat India sets out to do. It exposes the defunct education system in our country. This is a film about how outdated our education system is and the malpractices that dwell in it. A lot of people will relate to it — students, parents, faculty and even the cheating mafia.
What was the research and preparation you did for the film?
A fair chunk of what I have experienced through education helped me a lot during the film. I have gone through my own school and college days mugging up and hence, I know how ineffective it is. We wanted to create the character of Rakesh (played by Hashmi) as a nice guy with a devious mind. I am not very proud of it but I have cheated in my economics paper in Class XII boards because the supervisor allowed it, even though I never associated with the cheating mafia.
Your film Tiger was recently launched on Zee 5. Were you disappointed that it could not be released in theaters?
It was a big disappointment. I really wanted people to go to theaters and see it. However, it was a very controversial film with a lot of names being taken and hence, studios did not wish to touch it. I think the online streaming platform, these days, is as effective as the cinema hall and I am glad that people can finally watch it.
The director of Why Cheat India, Shoumik Sen, was earlier accused of sexual harassment in the #MeToo movement.
When this came out, we checked if women on our sets had been through any kind of sexual harassment but there were no such complaints against Shoumik. I am not saying he did it, nor am I denying it. However, when you have a situation where stories are told on Twitter, it becomes trial by social media; one must go through the judicial system or the police. Very often, it could be as simple as settling scores. That being said, I am glad that the #MeToo movement is happening but currently, it is a very grey zone.
Your son Ayaan was diagnosed with cancer in 2014. How tough was that phase for you and your family?
Ayaan is doing great now. He has recently been declared as cancer-free, so it is a big landmark. It was a very difficult time for us as a family and me personally to balance work with so much happening. He was being treated in Canada and I had to shoot back home. More than me, though, the boy was strong through it all. That’s when I realised that kids are way more resilient than adults.