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November 26, 1999


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I couldn't have made Karan Arjun or Koyla with newcomers'

Rakesh Roshan Tall, bald and still charming -- actor-turned-director Rakesh Roshan fits this description to a T. With several mega films behind him (Khoon Bhari Maang, Karan Arjun, Koyla), Roshan is now busy with Kaho Na...Pyaar Hai which marks the debut of his son, Hrithik.

Even as the promos for the film are on air, Roshan is busy putting the finishing touches to the film which is slated for a January 13 release. Mrudula Rajadhyaksha met him while he was working on the background score of the film at a suburban studio in Bombay.

What is Kaho Na... all about, besides being the launch pad for your son?

It's a romantic film with a suspense element. It is not a love story where the families are involved -- they come in much later. This romantic thriller has been shot on a virgin location. I went location hunting to Greece, Italy, the Fiji Islands and other places before finally settling down for Crabi in Thailand. We shot for 30 days there.

As for Hrithik, this film is not designed to launch him. I thought of the subject first and then of him. The primary focus here is the story, and not Hrithik. Actually, after Koyla, I was working on a script again with Shahrukh in mind. The script was almost ready, but I was not convinced with the last part of the story and so, finally gave up the subject.

Then I had this thin storyline which I narrated to my writers and they all thought that this subject needed newcomers. It was only after consulting everyone that I seriously considered taking Hrithik. I asked him if he would do the film. He, of course, was extremely excited about it.

So you insist this is not a launch pad for your son...

Kaho Na...Pyar Hai He is in the film, so in a way, it's his film. But I am very clear about what I am making. My subject comes first, then the girl and the boy. I am not making Hrithik do stunts like fall off horses or jump from the 13th floor and so on, to give him a certain image. He does everything that the story demands. In fact, it's a heroine-oriented film -- the girl has an equally strong role, may be a little stronger than the hero. If Hrithik has, say 80 scenes in the film, Amisha (Patel) has 85. So I wouldn't say that I am presenting him as the complete hero. He has rather been shown as a simple guy.

Does that mean that you never thought of launching your son like most star-fathers?

No, it's not that. But I did not think I would do it so soon. I wanted him to be at least 24-25. I think 21-22 is too young an age to become a hero. I started at that age, but it is of no use in the long run. You look good in your first film because you are fresh. But then you end up playing silly roles in the next few films till some meaningful film comes your way. Better to start little late.

Did Hrithik always want to become a hero?

Yes, he told me so later, but he was never sure about me launching him! So when I told him the first time he was really excited and surprised. Though acting looks easy and glamorous, it involves a lot of hard work and training. Youngsters from all over the country come to Bombay to become heroes, not realising how tough it really is. I am glad Hrithik has prepared himself well.

How did you select Amisha?

She is my friend's daughter. Her father and I have studied in the same boarding school. I have known her since she was a kid. Once I saw her dancing at a party and told her father to let me know if she was interested in films. He called me up after a year, saying that she is back from the US and that she would be interested in films. But by then I had already finalised my heroine. Then there was a problem and had to replace my heroine. That was how I got Amisha in the film.

How does it feel to work with newcomers considering that you have always worked with big stars?

Rakesh Roshan I have worked with stars because my subjects were such. I couldn't have made Karan Arjun or Koyla with newcomers. They couldn't have carried the burden of such subjects. Kaho Na... needed fresh faces, it is the story of a young couple who gets lost while going on a cruise to Singapore. The treatment of this subject is stylish and young, it's quite different from my previous films.

As for working with newcomers, honestly I did not feel they were newcomers. Amisha is a good dancer, she was confident from day one itself. She is also very talented. The whole unit was wondering how could she perform so well without any formal training or background.

The same goes for Hrithik. He is good in the action scenes and he too, dances well. Besides, he is a good actor too. He has undergone acting courses and taken Urdu tuitions. He has assisted me for the last five years and knows exactly what I want. Even in this film, he has been involved in other departments -- story sessions, screenplay,costumes. At this point, he is even ready to become a director -- he is capable of handling a film on his own.

Does today's generation has an advantage over yours, courtesy acting schools?

Acting schools cannot teach you to act. See, we all act at some point in real lives without realising it. But acting in films is all about emoting at the required moment before the camera. Acting schools help you shed the inhibitions. When we joined the industry, nobody really knew the importance of these schools. We were absolutely raw and learnt slowly. Today's lot already has the knowledge that we gained by experience, so they are better prepared than us to face the camera.

Why didn't you continue acting after turning to direction?

Rakesh Roshan with Rekha in Mother Nobody takes me (laughs)! They don't offer me roles since they know I am busy with my own projects. The time when I was free I did Sawan Kumar's Mother (right). But that was just for fun, nothing more.We had a nice 30-day outdoor schedule in Mauritius, and Dabbu (Randhir Kapoor) and I really enjoyed it.

Has any of your directors influenced you?

As an actor, I never used to leave the sets once my scenes got over. I used to look into the technical aspects -- the lighting, camera angles, scripts. I observed a lot which has stood me in good stead. I knew that I would have my own production company one day. I have been greatly influenced by Raj Kapoor, Ramesh Sippy as well as K Vishwanath who directed my Kaamchor and Jag Utha Insaan.

How about experimenting with music directors, other than Rajesh Roshan?

I am satisfied with the quality my brother (Rajesh Roshan) gives me. So tell me, where is the need to go and look outside? I think he is a very talented music director.

But he is not exactly among the top today, right?

That's his bad luck. Look at it this way. When a person can give quality to one maker, he can give it to others. It only shows that he has the talent. It is for the filmmakers to tap it.

Do you have musical talent as well, like your father and brother?

I have an ear for music, but I cannot compose it. That is god's gift. You will find many musicians who can play excellent music, but they won't be able to compose. I too can play any tune on any instrument.

Finally, why do you think Koyla flopped despite a big star cast?

Koyla I think there is a certain chemistry, a certain mood of the audience at the time of a film's release. It doesn't always gel with the mood of the film. If it does, then the audience picks up the film, but nobody can predict it. I don't know why Karan Arjun was such a big hit, I don't know why Kishen Kanhaiya, Khoon Bhari Maang did well.

Similarly, I don't know why Koyla didn't do well. At the time of its release, the audience was perhaps drifting away from violent, action films and turning to romantic ones. Who knows -- when Kaho Na... releases, the audience could be fed up with romantic films and wouldn't be interested in watching another! Or may be, they will enjoy a fresh romance. As I said, no filmmaker can predict this chemistry.

Amisha Patel. A star is born
He's a looker

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