“I Have Over-Estimated Myself As An Actor”
I Have Always Believed An Actor Is Like A Thumbprint, Each One Is Unique And Different.”
Sometimes, being born in a desired era is inevitable, you know you have missed out on fabulous talent in the industry. I was totally taken aback by this man’s performance in Unfaithfully Yours, his spontaneity as an actor is brilliant. But I didn’t know this persona had such a strong hold in Bollywood too. Apart from his appearances in the daily soaps that my mother loved, this man stepped into the Bollywood scene well before my existence, and now, has re-invented himself as an actor. Rinaldo D’souza Court Martials ROHIT ROY, who is gracious even under fire, and is as articulate a talker as he is versatile as an actor. After seeing you play the boy-next-door for years on Television, films and even theatre, you are going to be seen for the very first time as a villain in Kaabil. What made you decide to turn that corner? Well, when Sanjay Gupta first narrated the script to me, I was blown away by the script and my character. But believe it or not, I refused the film. I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off. Amit Shellar is out-and-out bad boy who has zero guilt or remorse. Coincidentally, that same day, I bumped into my dear friend Sanjay Suri at the salon, and when I told him I refused the film, he almost gagged and told me to call Sanjay Gupta right away and tell him yes. He said ‘ Agar koshish nahi karega, toh pata kaise chalega. You can or you can’t.’ Now I’m glad I did, because bad boys certainly have more fun.
Kaabil will feature the Roy brothers together, another first! What’s the edge you have given your character? The interest generated right from the time the film was announced has been phenomenal. Ronit plays my protective older brother which he is in real life as well. I have just played my role as directed by Sanjay Gupta, the edge is already there in the writing. All I’ve done is be true to the written word. I am more improved (improvised) as an actor, not so much a studied one. But I must admit, this time round, I worked a little harder before I went on the set. Hopefully, the audience will appreciate the effort.
Are you ready for comparisons? So far you’ll have maintained different profiles as actors. Oh, there is no question of a comparison between me and Ronit. He is outstanding as a villain and he takes it up a notch with every outing. And in Kaabil, he has hit it out of the park. In fact, while dubbing, I messaged him from the studio to tell him that. For me, I feel like this is my debut. Felt like a newcomer when I walked on to the set for my first shot. But yes, Ronit has some serious competition coming up (laughs).
In today’s highly competitive film space where even lead actors are playing gray roles, what is Rohit Roy’s USP? I think my USP is that I’m a malleable actor. I don’t have a set image and I like it that way. I have attempted comedy, romance, and action with some degree of success on TV and in films. When I did Shootout At Lokhandwala, I had never played a bhai, but it turned out pretty well, and my character of Fattu was appreciated so much, that at signals, the local boys still call me Fattu bhai (laughs). Now, it’s time to see if I can achieve the desired result as a villain.
I was blown away by the script (of Kaabil) and my character, but believe it or not, I refused the film.”
Considering Ronit has been in the industry longer than you have, do you’ll swap notes, or do you keep your work separate? Yes, of course, we do discuss our work. But we do not advise each other on how to do it. I am a reticent speaker and don’t really like to talk about my work, especially while I’m at home with family. But on occasion, we do talk about what we are up to. For instance, we have never discussed each other’s roles or preparation, even for Kaabil. I have always believed an actor is like a thumbprint, each one is unique and different.
What is the kind of role you’d really like to sink your teeth into, across genres? Like I said, any character is good for me as long as the character drives the film. I made the mistake earlier in my career, of just playing hero in my friends’ films because I didn’t want to upset them. Not anymore. As long as my character impacts the story, I don’t care which genre the film or character is. But I do want to tackle the role of a mentally retarded person. That would be a challenge. And of course, a double role is any actor’s dream.
Sanjay Gupta and you have worked together before, to brilliant effect. But that was a decade ago. Today, what is the difference in your coming together in this film? Sanjay Gupta and I are amazingly similar and yet, totally different. We continuously feed off each other. He is a treasure trove of film information. I can be totally honest with him and vice-versa. In fact, when he gave me a film to direct in Dus Kahaniyan, I was stumped as to how he even knew I wanted to direct. He said, your questions to me on set are never those of an actor, they are always of a filmmaker’s. I hope I have kept his faith in Kaabil and delivered what was expected of me and more.
You lost weight and reinvented your body structure for Kaabil. I believe you lost around 10 kilos or so, how did you do it? Well, this answer is in two parts really. One, when I was offered Kaabil, I was 86 kgs, almost 8 kgs overweight. I thought since I was reinventing myself as an actor, I should reinvent my body and look as well. I mean, who wants to see a rotund villain. I wanted people to say, wow, this bad boy is really sexy. So I lost 10 odd kgs and now am in the best shape of my life. The second part is, the credit goes to Salman for giving me a solid kick on my rear when we met at a CCL game in Ahmedabad. He couldn’t believe what I had become. He’s always called me a young Rock Hudson, and would tell me to even dress like the Hollywood heroes of the 60’s. Guess he will be happy now.
Apart from physically honing oneself for a role, what is your mental preparation? Do you like getting deep into the headspace of your characters, even if it is dark? You know, after I heard the preparation Heath Ledger did for Joker in Batman, I was intrigued and hopefully, sometime soon, I will get a role which I can dig my teeth into, and come up with a character which becomes an unforgettable part of movie history, Inshallah.
What according to you is better, television or films? Both the mediums have their own charm and their own audience’s. I enjoy both equally. TV has its challenges, but to me, it comes
There is no question of a comparison between me and Ronit. He is outstanding as a villain and he takes it up a notch with every outing.”
naturally, as I am a product of television…films naturally are larger than life and one has a lot of time to create a character and enjoy the process. But honestly, theatre is the best as far as an actor is concerned. I just love the stage. The live audience is the biggest high and the challenge is the most. No retakes there.
Yes, you are killing it in UnfaithfullyYours, for such a long while, and over innumerable shows. Your play with Mona Singh was a superb, romantically brilliant play. Could that not possibly be made into a film with you? Ever thought of producing that as a film? Firstly, thank you. Yes, I will accept this one compliment with a warm smile because I really enjoy performing this play. Strange you should ask me about making it into a film, because a dear friend Anand Pandit, who is also a producer, recently watched it and absolutely loved the play and wants to make a film of it. If everything goes well, I will probably direct the film. As far as acting in it is concerned, honestly, I’d like to see a Ranbir Kapoor in it, not me! It is such a beautiful tale and although it deals with an extra-marital affair, after each show, people have come up to us and said we so wish you guys end up together. I guess it’s the quintessential tale of liking the forbidden fruit.
You’ve had a long run, but your films with meaty roles are few and far between. Choice or circumstance? Circumstance, pure circumstance. A lot of people ask me why I don’t do more films and TV and I have to tell them the truth, but they don’t believe me. They think I’m joking when I say I don’t have a job. Seriously, I have had such a strange and chequered career in spite of winning umpteen awards, that I have no answer to the question why I don’t get the kind of work I deserve. But the positive side is I still play hero on TV after 22 years and have survived this long (laughs). I am just glad and thankful that I’m still relevant. Imagine making a debut as a villain after being an actor for two decades. One day, I will definitely write a book on my life and career as a case study.
What was your transition from Television to films like? Easy or rough? Films take time breaking into, especially with no Godfather, like your case. Oh, it’s rough, and tough alright. Very few like Shah Rukh Khan, and now Sushant Singh Rajput have made a smooth transition, and
I have a little one growing up and I want her to be proud of her father’s work. I would hate to leave behind a legacy which wasn’t noteworthy.”
that too without Godfathers. It’s commendable. Shah Rukh Khan is an inspiration to me and I always take a leaf out of his book. Never say never. At times, I have been at a loose end, but I never give up. I always believe the next turn is going to be better. I am ready for the rough and tumble.
What kind of role is an absolute no-no? Any such that have come to you that you’ve rejected? Countless roles, in TV and films. I used to be a brash kid. I would turn up my nose if I even mildly disliked a character I was offered in the earlier days. I can’t even remember how many roles I have rejected. I wouldn’t say any particular genre is a no-no, but like I said earlier, if it doesn’t drive the film forward, I’m not doing it. Whether I am jobless or not.
Is being in the negative role space a conscious move? Are negative roles more attractive? Now I can safely say that negative roles are definitely more attractive, especially if they are the kind I have in Kaabil. Bad boys certainly have more fun. I won’t divulge much, but I think it’s an interesting space to be in, and I’m just relieved to be working on a superb film with a great cast and an awesome coactor like Hrithik. He was the first to compliment me on my work.
What is your perception of Bollywood dynamics, and what are changes you’ve witnessed over the years, that have affected you? Well, I mustn’t say much because I might end up sounding condescending or holier-thanthou. All I’ll say is that there are no permanent friends or enemies in the film industry. Unfortunately, people react to ‘what’ you are, not ‘who’ you are, and that makes you a commodity, not a human being. And I believe in being human. Enough said. Do you think star kids have an upper hand in Bollywood? Most certainly they do, and why not? It’s only natural. I don’t understand the big hue and cry people make of it. Actor ke bachchon ko aasani toh hogi hi. But having said that, being an actor’s son doesn’t guarantee you continued success. You might get more chances to succeed, but eventually, you have to do the hard work yourself to get anywhere in this industry, or anywhere really.
If not acting, what would Rohit Roy be up to? I would probably be a teacher. Don’t know of what speciality, but a teacher for sure.
What is your take on the recent influx of content-driven films, that are deservedly doing well and getting their due? Do you consider them niche? Would you do smaller films with larger roles or are you more comfortable working with known directors and banners? I am open to good cinema, big or small. Every director of today was a debutant at some point. As long as the film makes sense to me and the character appeals to me, I’m on. I am currently shooting for a shoestring-budget film called Jihad, because the story is fab, relevant, and my role is kick-ass. Simple. Content-driven films are the future of Bollywood.
Which director has managed to bring out the best of your skills and talent? I think J P Dutta. Even though there were so many actors is LOC Kargil, he really etched my character out superbly. In fact, after he saw my first shot, he said you are going to be a J.P Dutta discovery. That’s tall praise coming from someone like JP Sir. Even though we shot under really exacting conditions in Leh, Ladakh, the journey was immensely satisfying for me as an actor. I can’t wait to be directed by him again. Sanjay Gupta would be a close second, merely because he trusts my instincts as an actor, because of our proximity as brothers.
Don’t you think content-heavy films could let you have the space you deserve? Yes, I totally agree with you. Content-driven films usually have driven characters as well. And it would be amazing to continuously discover oneself as an actor. Honestly, I do think I deserve a little more than I have received till now and I’m glad you agree.
Have you ever underestimated yourself as an actor? bitten off more than you can chew in any role? I wouldn’t say I have bitten off more than I can chew, but I would say I have overestimated myself as an actor!!! I am actually a pretty mediocre actor and I have no qualms in admitting it. I really don’t understand when people have called me a good actor and believe me, this is no effort to sound humble. I truly believe I am mediocre.
Are you still as eager and driven today as the early years? Today, so many different factors dominate and drive a film. So how easy or difficult is it to find the ideal conditions when you take on a film? Oh, I am more driven now than I was earlier. I have to prove myself worthy of being here and part of this great industry. Also, I have a little one growing up and I want her to be proud of her father’s work. I would hate to leave behind a legacy which wasn’t noteworthy.
I Am Actually A Pretty Mediocre Actor And Have No Qualms In Admitting It.”