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"Money has to bow before art"

Hrithik Roshan speaks

Let’s start with the obvious. Are you disheartened with the fate of Guzaarish at the box office?

(Takes a long pause) You know, it’s exactly the opposite. Today, I wake up with so much gratitude to God and for all that I have in my life because during the ten years of this journey, I have not experienced what I am going through right now. This is beyond any other form of accomplishment.

To date, I have seen people dancing in the auditorium, throwing coins. I have seen them shout but the feeling of people sitting in silence after they watch the film or come up to me and just hold me for 60 seconds or more without saying even a word… I wish I could explain it in words.

The film communicates at a spiritual level. That’s the kind of love and feedback I am receiving for Ethan. I have to be very careful to take only as much praise as I need from all this. I have to pass on the rest to God and to Mr Bhansali.

Please continue…

Ethan was definitely not the work of a good actor. I was simply blessed to be chosen as a medium to pass on all the thoughts and lessons from the various Ethans I met through this journey.

Any sensitive or honest actor would have done an equal or better job, having spent all that time with all those paralysed people who have gone through this tragedy and evolved so much in their lives.

A superhero in Krrish and an emperor in Jodhaa Akbar. Do you think the audience didn’t expect to see you as a helpless person?

Probably. The main core of the audience leads a very stressful life. Maybe that deters them from exploring films like Guzaarish. But the best moments are those when people have confessed that they did not feel like watching a film like Guzaarish because it was depressing, and then saying the film made them feel as it their problems had vanished! I felt like passing on this reaction to other people who decided to stay away from a film like this because they think it will make them sad.

You mean it’s a matter of how one looks at the film… perceptions, right?

Guzaarish is not a sad film. In a very joyous and bright way, it shows you how your own life is beautiful in spite of all the troubles you have. That’s the journey I went through. Whether it’s painting or poetry, everything comes from a past chapter of misery or struggle or pain. That’s the equation that became very clear to me when I met these paralysed patients. They were the ones making me laugh and then they took me with them into the dark space of their intense suffering.

I realised that by going through that journey, instead of moving into a darker space, I landed up in a beautiful and bright place. It is only after going through those alleys and dark places that you understand what life really is.

And it has changed you…

(Cuts in) Today, I have more gratitude. I don’t complain, bicker or get irritated. It’s natural to feel that way due to the monotony of our lives, our daily stresses and ego problems about someone saying something and you lashing back. All these things have gone from my life. Ethan has changed my life completely. I have learned to forget and forgive. (smiles)

It is said that the budgeting went wrong. Comment.

At times, money has to bow before art. If it were all about the selling price and profits, nothing beautiful or artistic would exist in this world. Things like poetry, painting, architecture, anything that is beautiful and artistic, needs to exist for the sheer fact that it should exist. Guzaarish is one such piece of art.

When Guzaarish was being made, did you think the budget could dampen the film’s prospects?

There are things you learn at every step of your life. The economics of films has been a learning experience through this phase. So far, I have been a slave to my vision. I have never had to make a choice about whether to do a film or not. My choice is already made depending on how excited I am with every cell of my body, right after I have read the script.

So far, I have gone purely by instinct because I’ve wanted to know where my heart would take me as an artist, and my potential as an actor. But I have now reached a place where I am a little more evolved and I am a little more comfortable with my art. I don’t like too many mental gymnastics but perhaps I can now apply my mind to a point where I can reach a balance between my heart and my head. I think that would be a more intelligent approach.

And Kites…

Well, Kites was entirely my failure. I thought it was time to break the language barrier. And that’s what made Kites fail. Kites was a beautiful film and I received a lot of praise and accolades for the film and my work. It would have worked if the hero was a Hindustani guy, ladki ko patata and he would pass some witty remarks. What went wrong was that he was completely unidentifiable to the Indian masses.

India is a land of heroes. They need to see a hero. That’s what they did not get. Kites was the story of a loser. He married for money, he ran away, left that sweet girl behind, he couldn’t save the girl he loved, the girl died, he couldn’t take revenge and then he died. Usne kiya kya picture mein…

Does this mean our audience is not ready for such experiments? And…

(Cuts in) But that doesn’t mean that we don’t keep trying. As I always say, everything is not about the box office. I am sure even Ronnie Screwvala did not take on Guzaarish because they thought they would make pots of money. It was for the sheer love of cinema.

Maybe this was not your year but next year you will be back with what the audience loves to watch in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (an urban, youth film) and the Agneepath remake (a hardcore action film).

(Smiles) There’s nothing like “this was not mine or that will be mine”. I refuse to believe that this wasn’t my year. I lived two beautiful characters in Kites and Guzaarish.

Coming to your question, I love bouncing off from one film to another. I am an extremist. If I want to do something, I do it completely. I would like to get to the other side of the spectrum. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is the complete opposite of Guzaarish, and Agneepath is a complete opposite world to Zindagi. And Krrissh is a completely different from Agneepath.

How do you see yourself as Vijay Deenanath Chouhan?

It’s a very interesting script. I am a slave to my vision, and if I react to something, even I can’t stop myself from being a part of it. Like it happened with Akbar (in Jodhaa Akbar)… People said, “How can you measure up to Prithviraj Kapoor?” And I said I was not trying to be Prithviraj sir. It would be foolish to try to compete with the original. I would not do Agneepath if I were trying to compete with the Vijay Deenanath Chouhan of that film. It’s a completely different take and about a young boy. There is no bass voice and he has not got the swagger. He is a boy. Baccha hai woh…he is angry.

How are you preparing yourself for this role?

I don’t know how I will prepare for it. I simply react to a script, come home and then wonder why I signed the film because I don’t know how to do it. I go through that for a week. Then I feel, “Abhi toh phans gaya hoon… so I have to go ahead with this.” This is an inevitable process I go through. So before I start a film, I sit and complain and crib about why I signed the film and then slowly I become OK. (Smiles)

It’s been a while since you did a multi-starrer like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.

This film will completely breaks the star image. I am not the star of that film. I am just a boy. It’s completely different from what I have done before. Not even like Dhoom, which was also a multi-starrer. It’s just the opposite. Main hoon frame mein and you might not even see me. It’s like that. It’s not that I am the star of the film and Abhay and Farhan are also there. We all share equal weightage, footage and importance.

Are you doing Paani?

I have such deep respect for Mr Shekhar Kapur. He has spoken to me about the film and if it materialises, I will be very lucky and excited.

And finally, Krrish.

Well, I think we’re done with the interview so now I will go and sit with my dad. He’s sitting in the next room. (Smiles)

Can you tell us how many times the script has been revised?

Krrish has gone through three to four years of servicing, surfacing and submerging. We get excited and it does not work, then we rework. I think in the past three to four years, it has risen like a phoenix and shelved again, like, 20 times. But now finally Dad has got a vision which blew my mind.

Will we see two Hrithik Roshans or just one?

(Laughs) Two or three or four, keep waiting.

What about Jadoo?  

(Laughs again) Jadoo ke liye bhi you will have to wait.

Finally, this time will you meet aliens?

(Laughs loudly) Since you’re asking so much, let me tell you… This one will be the bigger or biggest of the Krrish series.

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