Q. 1 Tell us about your role in the forthcoming edition of The Fast and The Furious which will release in 2015.
I have been dying to talk about my role but everyone associated with the film has been keeping it under wraps post Paul Walker’s death. But what I can tell you is that I shot for the film last year with the entire team in Abu Dhabi and Atlanta. It is a very different genre of film that the audiences will get to see. Interestingly, I am not playing an Indian in the film but it is a very pivotal role. I have a strong accent and the get-up is very different from what the audience is used to seeing of me.
Q. 2 How was it shooting with Paul Walker?
I cannot stress enough on how much I enjoyed working with Paul Walker. He was a complete professional. I was supposed to shoot with him in January, but the accident happened, leading to his unfortunate death. In fact, when I was leaving for India, he was the last person I met since we were all put up at the same hotel during the shoot. He told me to “keep it real”. I was looking forward to working with him but fate had different plans.
Q. 3 How did you bag the role in The Fast and The Furious?
I was taking a break from my shooting schedules and trekking with a couple of friends in the mountains when I got a call from my agent. I was asked to send in a sample of my work which I did immediately. As luck would have it, I was in Atlanta within a week!
Q. 4 What was the reason behind you saying no to the American television project Homeland?
I didn’t really want to turn down the role in Homeland. The makers asked me for my dates and I had already committed to the Bhatts for their film Khamoshiyan. Bobby Jasoos was releasing and Rohan Sippy’s Sonali Cable is also releasing in October. So may be some other time, I would definitely take it up. (laughs)
Q. 5 What are some of your favourite American TV shows?
I was hooked on to Breaking Bad. I think it is one the finest pieces of writing I have ever come across in my life. My all-time favourite has been Friends and I think that’s the case with everyone. I have grown up watching that. Then there’s Modern Family and Game of Thrones that I am addicted to. Incidentally, I also had the opportunity to work with Natalie Dormer who plays Margaery Tyrell in Game of Thrones.
Q. 6 What are some of your dream Hollywood roles?
I am a big fan of Al Pacino and his role in The Godfather is epic. At the risk of sounding cliched, The Godfather is the role of a lifetime. Even in our country we have the mafia hierarchies, but the subtlety with which he played the role is remarkable. Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull is an another dream role for me.
Q. 7 Do you see yourself as a crossover actor?
I think crossover actors are ceasing to exist. It’s not about crossover actors any more in my opinion. It is world cinema and if I can bridge that gap then I am ready to do such roles. I think India is reaching international levels, we are all over international film festivals. I believe in spontaneity and that’s how I have been working so far.
Q. 8 Have you been offered any other Hollywood projects?
I have finished a feature film titled For Here Or To Go? which has been shot in California. It is a true story about an engineer in the Silicon Valley. A studio film, it doesn’t have any A-list actor but stars Omi Vaidya, Samrat Chakrabarti, Amitosh Nagpal also in the star cast along with me.
Q. 9 There is a craze in Bollywood about doing Hollywood films. What do you feel about that?
The craze is about working with firangi people (laughs). It’s like the kid within us who is curious. They bring some interesting stuff to the table, their work ethic is different, of course. We might have equally good projects but it’s curiosity that drives us. I just worked with James Warne who has directed The Conjuring and Insidious prior to The Fast and The Furious, and what lured me was his style of working and cars in the film.
Q. 10 Is Hollywood difficult for Indian actors?
Hollywood isn’t difficult for Indian actors, it’s the other way round. It would be difficult for Tom Cruise to do a Dabangg! Honestly it is about being more global and understanding the way they work. Their perception may be different but essentially it’s the same thing. We are all making cinema. Having said that, I don’t think I can make a living off Hollywood though it is nice.