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August 20, 1998


Clinic All Clear-Rahul Dravid

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He's a looker

Sharmila Taliculam

Hritik Roshan. Click for bigger pic!
Some boys know exactly what they want. And Hritik Roshan is one of them -- he wants his face up on every marquee in the country. And he has no illusions that father Rakesh Roshan can haul him up the stairs of Fame.

Hritik is good-looking and ambitious, and very, very careful.

Looking at the dictaphone warily, he announces, "I hate those things." Actually he hates the way his voice sounds in them, which puts a different perspective on things altogether.

You notice he looks a lot different from his photographs. In fact he looks better in two dimensions. The only similarity is the five o' clock beard and the intense, piercing eyes. Showing a rare humility, he refuses to sit on his father's chair in the office for the interview.

Kaho Na Pyar Hai was launched with great fanfare. Hritik was cast opposite Kareena Kapoor, sister of Karisma, daughter of Randhir and Babita... It made news. It made bigger news when Kareena walked out, apparently because Babita and director Rakesh Roshan couldn't see eye to eye.

"Babita and dad had some misunderstanding; it wouldn't be professional on my part to talk about it... Also, it's out of respect for the Kapoors."

Two schedules later, the film is going very well with a new girl, Anisha Patel, also of impressive pedigree, being the grand-daughter of Rajni Patel, the late criminal lawyer and Bombay's Congress boss in the seventies.

"She has been a blessing in disguise. She is very talented too," says Hritik.

Being Rakesh Roshan's son prepared Hritik for the glamour. He admits that was initially why he wanted to be an actor. He also hero-worshipped his father, an actor then. But when he began assisting Roshan senior, he fell in love with the technical side of film-making. He assisted his father during Kishen Kanhaiya and Koyla.

Click for bigger pic!
"There was no particular moment that I decided I wanted to become an actor. I just knew I had to do it." But the draw of direction is still irresistible, he says. "The amount of work and intelligence that goes into making a film is incredible," he tells you.

Then why didn't he become a director instead? His father was already one, and as precedent, there were the examples of Sooraj Barjatya and Aditya Chopra... Hritik thinks direction's the final step in cinema.

"I have a passion for acting and I have a bigger passion for direction. Probably one day, if things go all right, I will be able to direct. It's the toughest job on earth."

Hritik learnt acting in a school while assisting his father. Now he believes a good director must be a good actor first. Which, he says, is why he wants to master acting first. "From the script to the performance, the director is the captain of the ship. He can't go wrong with anything and that includes the actors."

He does not think he's very good-looking; he actually fears he might not appeal to the audience. So he prefers to wait and gain assurance before going ahead with his plans.

"I am not sure how I might look on screen. I have to see myself in a film, and not just a shot.... Every actor and director thinks he himself is amazing. I think I know my job but I would rather wait and find out if the people think so too."

Perhaps he aspires to go farther than his father did...

Hritik promptly agrees, adding that he hopes he is sufficiently critical of himself to mould himself into an actor better than many in the industry. But already his fetish for perfection is getting to be annoying. "It drives people insane," he admits.

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Kaho Na Pyar Hai is a love story. But given Rakesh Roshan's penchant for lacing everything with violence, it's unlikely he'll keep out the ketchup and artillery, as did his last "love story", Koyla.

Hritik loyally describes that as a dash of thrill and action.

"My father has not lost that touch yet, and the film will have some thrills too. There is not even a punch thrown, but your heart will race towards the young couple in love," he promises.

This film was a spur-of-the-moment decision, happening when Rakesh Roshan was directing another film with Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan, a film that appeared to be going nowhere.

Hritik again was assisting his father and once, while having a talk, Roshan suddenly decided he would make a love story with his son in the lead. Hritik was caught so badly off-guard that he went off to his room to absorb the news.

When he came down to earth, he was told to learn to prepare for his role.

Hritik decided it wasn't so difficult -- his stint as an assistant had helped him there.

"It's not necessary that to be a great actor, you have to be an assistant first, but it does help. Acting involves getting into the character. It's a very internal thing. But knowing how the film works, what camera angles look best, how the director conceives the scene or a shot, certainly helps externally.

"He is the director and I do exactly as he wants. He has never seen me acting before. He has the confidence that I would do it". Hritik did suggest shooting a scene with the heroine before finalising the film. But Roshan didn't think it was necessary. "He is happy as of now and so am I."

Hritik, though, is not sure whether he is really being launched by his father and by not some other film-maker. "It's difficult for a father to picture his son as a sexy Romeo," he says.

Click for bigger pic!
But whatever the pressures of work, it does not overflow into their home, he says. In fact, when the day's shooting is over, Hritik is not encouraged to discuss the film at all. All doubts are cleared on the set itself.

Hritik feels his career isn't fully dependent on how his film does. He cites the case of Akshaye Khanna, who was accepted despite how his film did. "I should get my due, if I am good enough." Also, Hritik has two other competitors, Feroz Khan's son Fardeen and Amitabh Bachchan's son Abhishek. And all three are expected to hit the screen about the same time. And all three are friends, having grown up together.

"Abhishek is a good friend, as is Fardeen. In fact, I feel proud when people compare me with Fardeen. He is the best-looking guy today in the industry. I see them as positive competition. I am sure we will push ourselves to excel. I hope we all three do well in our own ways and continue to have a good relationship."

Hritik wants to act till he has either had his fill of it or till he is convinced that he will make a good director. He wants to gain enough experience before he ventures into something he describes as mature work.

"It's necessary to see the good things in life. Everybody has joys and sorrows. I prefer dwelling on the joys. I realise that when you are in front of the camera, nothing matters. Your father or mother may have been in films, but when you face the camera all that takes a back seat. You are by yourself then, no matter whose son you are. That's the true test."

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