I’VE NEVER WANTED TO BE AN ACTOR’
‘Idon’t think you will see too much of Rohit Roy as an actor now.’ Rohit Bose Roy is thrilled with his international debut in Sam Bhattacharjee’s Indo-British sci-fi film IRaH.
Not only is it his first international production, it is also his first lead role in almost 10 years. “People have asked me throughout my career, ‘Why aren’t we seeing more of Rohit Roy?’ In my last film Forensic, which also had Vikrant Massey and Radhika Apte, 90 percent of the reviewers said they wanted to see more of Rohit Roy in the film,” Rohit tells Rediff.com Contributor Mohnish Singh.
What is IRaH about?
It is my first international production.
I have never been part of an international film before so that in itself, was exciting.
Secondly, it deals with artificial intelligence. There are very few films made in India about artificial intelligence, so that was again a first for me.
And the third most interesting thing was that I played the central lead.
If you have followed my career, then you would know that for the last 10 odd years, I have not been offered a central role in Hindi movies.
So it was exciting to be offered this part.
Why do you think you weren’t being offered the central part in Hindi films?
Quite honestly, there is a difference between the way the West works and the way we work.
We are bound by the star system.
I am not commenting on whether it’s good or bad because it helped when I was a star on television and in films.
So whether it worked or not, I got enough work.
In India, we follow a phase, so I had a good run for 20 years.
Then I started playing the antagonist and strong character roles, whether it was in Kaabil or Shootout at Lokhandwala or even Mumbai Saga.
But in the West, they cast according to the character.
Of course, there is also a star system. The film that Tom Cruise can do, I obviously won’t be able to do.
But in a film that requires a character, like Hari Singh, which I play in IRaH, you need an Indian.
They could have gone to anyone; it’s not that I was the only one who could have played it.
They could have gone to several other actors in India. I would say it’s a little bit of luck that they reached out to me and I was very happy to grab the opportunity.
You have reduced work on television. Is that a conscious decision?
The kind of roles I want to do have to be challenging.
I cannot do a family drama where one is doing things that I have done 20 years ago.
Even if you go to Swabhimaan, I was playing the central character.
Even then in 1995, we showed relationships that were very, very progressive.
I want to play roles that challenge me and get me out of my bed every morning.
I did one in 2019 called Sanjivani on Star Plus. It was a completely different character that I had never played on TV before. So I was happy to play that.
It’s not like I am shying away from TV, but I will only do something that pushes me as an actor, and we all know that television doesn;t afford too many characters like that.
You mentioned playing strong characters in films like Shootout At Lokhandwala and Kaabil. Did the success of these films help you the way you thought they would?
None of the films I thought will help me in my career have ever helped me.
Right from the time I was launched, none of the films really helped me further my career.
People have asked me throughout my career, ‘Why aren’t we seeing more of Rohit Roy?’
In my last film Forensic, which was released on ZEE5 and also had Vikrant Massey and Radhika Apte, 90 percent of the reviewers said they wanted to see more of Rohit Roy in the film.
Now, what do I do? I mean I don’t know how to change that, how to answer that.
Kaabil was a hit.
Shootout At Lokhandwala was a huge success.
In Mumbai Saga, I was playing a fantastic role opposite John Abraham, but none of these films transformed or translated into more work for me. Ever.
And I am fed up with answering this.
Other than my destiny, I can’t hold anybody else responsible because people have called me a good actor, people enjoy working with me, people who have worked with me are my friends and in spite of that... there is no particular reason that it has not translated into more work.
So you believe in destiny?
Yes. My destiny made me an actor.
I was to go to America to do my MBA, but I didn’t get my visa. That’s why I became an actor.
Now, I believe that my destiny is taking me towards where I always wanted to go.
I have always wanted to be a director; I have never wanted to be an actor.
I am an actor by accident.
I got Swabhimaan because I was sitting in the same room as my girlfriend, who is now my wife (Manasi Joshi Roy), and they had offered her the role of Channa Ruparel. She didn’t want to do it and I took the number from her and called them and said, ‘Listen, I am interested.’
That’s how I got Swabhimaan.
Even though my brother (Ronit Roy) was a star at that time, I never wanted to be an actor.
Then I got this opportunity and Swabhimaan became what it became and for the last 25 years, I have been acting.
But now, I think, I have reached a stage where if there is an absolutely fabulous show or film, it doesn’t make any difference to me unless it is a fabulous role.
I don’t think you will see too much of Rohit Roy as an actor now.
My script is ready and I am going to start pitching it to producers that I really want to make a film with, and you will see director Rohit Roy soon.
You directed a short film named Rice Plate, which was a part of Sanjay Gupta’s 2007 anthology film Dus Kahaniyaan. What took you so long to plan your next directorial?
What happened after Rice Plate was that everybody said, ‘Wow, this guy is a fantastic director.’
All the reviews were about Rice Plate.
What happens is you have to run your kitchen fires, right?
And that time, I was on a high as an actor.
Shootout At Lokhandwala had just been released. People were giving me roles and offering me work on television and in films.
In fact, Sanjay Gupta had told me when he saw the film, ‘Stop everything that you are doing and become a director.’
I didn’t know how to become a director.
I didn’t know how to stop acting because I had to run to my house.
Now that I am fairly secure, this is the right time for me to make that decision.
I have to stop focusing on two things, and instead focus on one.
So this is what I am going to be focusing on.
Hopefully, in 2023, my film will be on the floor.
You said you had no interest in acting despite the fact that your brother was a star. So what convinced you to take that route?
It’s not that I didn’t want to be a part of the industry.
Like I told you, I believe in destiny.
Had I not been sitting with Manasi that afternoon, had I not overheard her conversation about this show being directed by Mahesh Bhatt and written by Shobha De, who were two absolute stars, had I not called them to find out if I could be a part of that, it would not have happened.
I didn’t call them to find out if I could star in it.
I just said if there was something that I could do I would be happy.
I didn’t know till the first day of shooting that I was playing Rishabh Malhotra.
I just signed the contract thinking that I was going to be playing one of the characters in Swabhimaan, that’s all.
And I was totally new.
You don’t go to Mahesh Bhatt and ask, ‘What role am I doing?’
On the first day of shooting, I still remember the entire cast was sitting outside the set and they came and gave us our sheets and announced, ‘Rohit, you are going to be playing the character of Rishabh.’
There was another actor that I won’t name. He was a very popular model at that time. He was shocked because he thought that he was going to be playing the hero.
I was not even looking at playing the hero. I would have been happy to play anything.
That’s how I got Swabhimaan, and that’s why I am saying it is destiny.
How did being Ronit Roy’s younger brother help your career? Did it help you at all?
It didn’t help me at all.
In fact, Ronit was against my becoming an actor.
He had seen the struggles and in spite of giving a silver jubilee as his first film Jaan Tere Naam, he really had to struggle for the next 10 odd years till he signed Kasautii Zindagii Kay.
So he had seen the struggle, he had seen the failure, he had seen flops and he didn’t want his younger brother to go through the same.
By the time I came in, his films had already started bombing. So he was already trying to look after himself and his career.
I don’t know how it would have made a difference.
Initially, people can help you. but eventually, you have to do what you have to do.
Fortunately for me, my very first outing worked well and after Swabhimaan, there was no looking back.
I needed support from the industry which I never got.
I constantly remained an outsider in spite of successes. Being Ronit’s brother got me into offices and got recognition, but it didn’t help me in my career.