“I Have Over-Es­ti­mated My­self As An Ac­tor”

Stardust (English) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.”


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