It’s a lazy Sunday morning. Dad Rakesh Roshan has just finished a late breakfast, mum Pinky is lingering over coffee.
The minute Hrithik Roshan hops in youthfully, robust in a body fitting tee, an amulet of coloured stones over his biceps and a cap perched on his head, it’s strictly time for business.
Business, after a long spell since Dhoom: 2 was his last celluloid outing. All through 2007, Hrithik Roshan was lapata (missing from action). Jodhaa Akbar is scheduled for a February 2008 release.
So, how does it feel to be finally entering the theatres?
Hrithik has this way of looking straight at you with those clear green eyes when he speaks, perhaps little aware of the effect it has on the other person.
You return the look (with dull black-brown eyes) and lock in for answers.
“Mum, I’ve been in the 16 th century, now I’m back!” he happily announces. “It has been more than a year since had a film in the theatres. But that just happened. I would not have planned my career with such a long gap. But you can do the things that you can control and you accept the things that you cannot control.
“I expected the film to come in 2007 for sure,” he admits. But the delay is understandable because of the kind of scale the film has and the attention to detail that I was observing. Ashutosh would take great pains to fix every single thing that would look even slightly wrong in the scenario. The effort was all going in the fight direction, so there was no need to ring the alarm bells because the final goal is to make a good film. The deadline is not as important. As long was we’re all happy with the final product it doesn’t matter if it comes after a year’s gap.
You’ve had a gap like this earlier too?
Yes, after Lakshya I had a gap of two years and that turned out pretty well with Krrish and Dhoom: 2, so, I’m hoping this gap also proves beneficial.
After a variety of roles, how was you first historical film?
It was a historical experience! My primary motivation in doing Jodhaa Akbar was to work with Ashutosh, especially after Swades. There are certain aspects of the human personality that he has such a deep understanding of that I knew working with him would help me traverse new areas of the psyche. Sure enough that happened. He’s the ideal combination of intelligent preparation and spontaneity. He is prepared, everything is in order, the scene is at the right pitch and it starts the right way. But just as you start getting stirred as an actor, he will throw a thought in you mind and it will bring out something that’s completely out of the box. It just takes the scene to another level. It’s done so spontaneously that as decision to work with him because what I wanted came true.
Was it tough on you physically?
Not really, given the kind of films I’ve done. In Krrish the costume was nothing less than Akbar’s as far as body heat was concerned, or in the number of layers. My knee was strapped up, my back was strapped up, I was on cable all the time. There was a huge long leather cape worn in 40 degrees of the Singapore heat. Lakshya was in a place that was minus three degrees with machine guns, firing and climbing mountains. Dhoom was equally tiring with months and months of training on the roller blades and the snowboarding. So for me, doing a historical was no different from doing the modern day conventional hero.
The only thing that was new to handle in Jodhaa Akbar was the turban, but I can equate that with the mask in Krrish and say that I’ve done that too. The mask was also glued on, that was as much trouble as a 16 th century costume! So no, I wasn’t really hit by something that was devastatingly uncomfortable because I have been devastatingly uncomfortable in all the films I’ve done so far. Thank God actually, that I was used to it by the time Jodhaa Akbar started.
Akbar’s costume was heavy. I’ve never worn those materials in my life. They look outstanding, but I don’t think I’ll ever wear them again (laughs). I’m not much of a jewellery person, I like to be plain, I just don’t like to wear anything except of course this (amulet) treatment. It’s a therapy. There’s this doctor who goes around town and cures a lot of people. And he’s a hundred percent sure about what he does. I’m wearing it for my knees.
I have injured my knees, my cartilages have been torn and worn out and they don’t heal very well. The kind of wear and tear they’ve gone through!
To return to the costume, the entire department’s attention to detail was just so amazing. All the assistants and the entire crew, were so motivated. I wish all film crews could get inspired by this way of working. It all trickles down to the fact that Ashutosh was at the head of it. That’s a talent which is fascinating, the way he’d motivate everybody. Working in Karjat, to and fro, the travel, the costumes and the heat, in the midst of all that to be bothered about what the 30 th junior artiste in the 50 th row of the crowd is wearing and that the helmet or the turban is a little askew they would pay attention to that, correct it, cut the shot for that, stuff like that. It’s a given that you do need to take care of every detail of the main artiste but when I saw it happened to each and every single person who was a part of that frame, I was absolutely amazed. Nothing bothered the crew, nothing deterred them, they were just charging ahead.
Was it difficult, sword fighting, riding elephants?
It’s such a rhetorical question in my life, because everything I’ve done in my career has been difficult (laughs). Nothing easy, but that’s the fun of it.
You go for subjects like that?
I guess I do (still grinning), but unfortunately that’s what excites me. Things that get very difficult to do physically, that’s a challenge I enjoy. When I began Jodhaa Akbar, ha ha I had the wrong impression that this would probably be one film where I will get to rest my physical self and concentrate more on the dialogues, the scenes and the romance. Little did I know that the way Ashutosh had imagined the war scenes and the bits of action, it would be ten times more difficult because of various things like the locations where we were shooting, the timings, the fact that I had a 14 kilo armour on me with a sword and a helmet. It’s very strange but I sort of don’t understand why people wore armour because it’s so hard to move in it. How do you win a war without being comfortable in the way you move? And once you fall with it, it’s just so difficult to get up. It’s like, if you fall you die. So it was one helluva challenge to do the action sequence with that armour because it weighed so much and every time you fell with it, it stuck into your ribs or your collar bone. And oh yeah, I did fall a few times.
My injuries are a consequence of overloading my body with the kind of physical stuff I have done in my films over the past three four years. Somewhere we actors lose sight of the real and start pretending to be the heroes we’re playing!
Is the knee injury a result of all that action?
No, my injuries are a consequence of overloading my knees with the kind of physical stuff I have done in my films over the past three four years and no giving my body enough rest. Somewhere we actors lose sight or the real and start pretending to be the heroes we’re playing, we keep going at it even with the pain. I’ve been doing that in the past few years, especially during Dhoom. I used to strap my knees up and continue in spite of the pain. That is the one thing that doctors now tell me was very stupid to do. I’ve been pretty stupid, so I’m the one to blame. The knees are a consequence of Krrish and Dhoom, which flared up while shooting Akbar.
During the filming of Jodhaa Akbar, you also hired a chopper to ferry you back from work. Did that make you feel like rock star?
That was fun! The first time I had this huge grin on my face which I couldn’t hide. I wanted to hide it, I didn’t want people to notice how excited I was. I wanted to be very composed about it but I just couldn’t when I was landing and saw my car parked on the tarmac and I was landing in a helicopter, back from work and going home, I felt like a star. And that really throws me off. Whenever I’m on a platform where I’m this huge star, it surprises me. I had this huge grin and I told myself, no, if I’m a star I can’t have this excited face, it should look like a part of me. But I kept grinning. I got off the helicopter with a big smile on my face, looked at my car, looked back at the chopper and said, wow, man, dude, this is too cool!
This idea to use a chopper came about because I was doing rehearsals (in Mumbai) for an awards function and I was doing sword fighting sequences in Karjat. After an entire day of tiring myself physically with the action, traveling six hours to and fro by car, then rehearsing for the performance for three hours till twelve at night and then sleeping, I was tearing myself a part, my body was just giving up on me. That’s when Aqeel (DJ Aqeel, sister in law Farrah Husband) looked at me, swore at me and asked, when you can afford it, why can’t you make life more comfortable for yourself? That’s when I decided to hire a chopper. It certainly made life more comfortable for me because it took me 15 minutes to get back. I was saving five hours of my time which I could put into my work and make it better.
If you can afford it and it’s helping your work then it’s absolutely worth it.
How come you didn’t offer your costar, Ashwarya Rai a lift?
What do I say about that? Of course I did.
And Ash wasn’t interested?
He shrugs, I mean Susanne also wouldn’t travel in a chopper, it looks a little scary.
Talking of Susanne, another baby on the way?
Yes, in May
You seem to specialize in delivering a film and a baby at the same time. (Hrehaan and Krrish happened simultaneously)?
Ha, yes, but I assure you, one’s got nothing to do with the other! It’s nice, I will be having two releases this year.
Coming to your dad’s new production, are you doing a guest appearance in Krazzy 4?
Not a guest appearance. I’m doing a promotional song.
Will it be in the film?
Your dad says your next film will be from your personal stable but directed by Anurag Basu?
Anurag Basu is definitely on because I’ve very excited about working with him, I think he’s a fantastic director. I’ve loved all his films. I’ve seen Gangster and Metro, I haven’t seen Murder. But I loved Gangster and Metro was outstanding.
A film not directed by your dad?
That’s dad’s call. He knows best.
Would you make up to your long absence by doing more films this year?
I would do ten films. But the ten should excite me enough for me to want to do them. Maybe people have this preconceived nation that I only do these big budge, high scale dramas, larger than life roles. But that’s not true. I wouldn’t mind doing a bit part in a fantastic small film. But I don’t get approached for such subjects. Like the way I did Fiza, I’m very game for such roles. I might not even be the main leading man to the film but if I like the role I would do it. But I don’t get approached for them. And I can’t do more than one Krrish or one Dhoom in a year because these films take a lot of time.
Believe you’ve signed an Eros-Carving Dreams project without a script? That’s a new one for you
There are ideas floating. There was a sense of urgency in announcing it and they’re very good friends of mine. Carving Dreams (Bunty and Afzal) are my managers as well, I’ve known them well for the last two years. They’re close to me and I’ve grown to like them a lot. So I have signed a film with them. But the script will be mutually agreed upon. Once there is a script, we will roll.
As I said, I want to do ten films this year. This will be one of those ten!
While filming Jodhaa Akbar was there embarrassment at not being invited to your costar Aishwarya’s wedding?
No not at all. It is their prerogative. You have to respect their need for privacy or to just call the ones they’re really comfortable with. When I got married in Bangalore, we only called a hundred close family friends. I don’t think we should blame them or feel bad for something like that. It would be cheap of me, it would make me a lesser man if I had been affected by it.
But you’re not doing their stage shows?
I wanted to. But unfortunately because my knees I couldn’t do it in 2007. They’ve shifted it to 2008 but I’ve got Anurag Basu’s film already planned and Krrish again. Hopefully, I’ll be healthy and busy this year.
Hrithik was the one who kickstarted the multi film-multicrore arrangement which other actors are now signing. The cross being bandied around suddenly makes his 30 crore for three films deal seem puny today!
How strange is that! He remarks with a glint in his eye. I remember saying last year that five years from now the amount (30 crore) might look measly. It’s been just a year and it’s already looking so much less than what it seemed at that time!
Yes, I’m the one who set the ball rolling. And now I’m chasing the ball!
The deal by the way, has been officially called off. Hrithik’s worth has shot up like sensex!