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The Rediff Interview / Hrithik Roshan
'I am so glad Farhan is a day older than me!'
June 17, 2004
Hrithik Roshan has a deceptively casual air about him.
But anyone who has interviewed actors and directors can see in him a maturity that belies his age. And that is not really surprising if one remembers that Hrithik, who shot into the limelight in 2000 with his debut film, Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai as leading man, has been in the movies for nearly 24 years.
Hrithik had an uncredited appearance in the 1980 hit Aasha, directed by his maternal grandfather J Om Prakash. You can catch a glimpse of him in the song, Jaane Hum Sadak Ke.
His grandfather would direct him again in Bhagwan Dada in 1986.
But it was in 2000 Hrithik became a star sensation with Kaho Naa... under the direction of his father, Rakesh Roshan.
Hrithik spent about a month in America and Canada recently appearing in live concerts in nearly a dozen cities. He took some time to chat about Lakshya which he described as 'one of the most challenging films' of his young career.
The film is being released on June 18, and many trade experts in North America expect it to be a solid hit. Some experts even think it has a realistic chance of beating the $3.6 million that Shah Rukh Khan's Main Hoon Na has grossed in North America and United Kingdom.
Senior Associate Editor Archana Masih spoke to the actor about Lakshya before he left for his recent Heartthrobs Concert tour.
What are your thoughts about Lakshya at this moment?
Sometimes, it is a relief that he is at least a day older than me [Hrithik was born January 10, 1974; Farhan, January 9, 1974]. Because if he were any younger, I would feel really embarrassed because he is far more matured than anyone I have met who is my age. Just the way he handles his actors was absolutely a revelation. I have never been handled like this. It was absolutely phenomenal.
You must have spent time with Indian soldiers. How special was that?
I think we all should be ashamed of how ignorant we are about our armed forces. I am because I found out how much they do for us and for what little they are doing it for. It just completely blew my mind. By the end of it, I ended up wanting to be that man. That soldier.
That man is the perfect man. He is strong. He is humble. He is polite. He is well mannered. He is strong. He is educated. He is intelligent. He is everything. And we know so little about this man who gives up his life, who risks his life to protect his country.
I am completely in awe of these people [the armed forces]. By the end of my schedule, a few of them had sent their autograph books to me and, for the first time, I felt something was not right here. These were people that I wanted autographs of and they were taking mine. I was almost embarrassed writing my name. That's the magic of the movies I guess.
Senior Editor Arthur J Pais continued the conversation with Hrithik in New York:
There is often a fear about a second film by anyone who made a big name with the first film. Did you think of the expectations people have for Lakshya, and that it may live up to those expectations?
[chuckles] I know people talk about the law of averages -- that one out of every three films could be a flop, or the first hit is followed by a failure. But when one has full faith in a director and the material, you take the plunge. And don't forget my second film [Koi... Mil Gaya] for my dad [Rakesh Roshan] was a bigger a hit than my first film for him [Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai].
How did this part come to you?
Farhan approached me, but ever since I saw his Dil Chahta Hai, I had been wondering why I wasn't in that film [chuckles].
What impressed you most about that film?
It was a sensitively made film that took Hindi cinema to a new level. It was not a hit outside the big cities, but there was no denying that it showed great promise for its young writer and director.
I could not have refused Lakshya at any cost. Being in this film also gave me an opportunity to be with some of our finest actors, including Amitabh Bachchan and Om Puri.
What did you like most about your role in Lakshya?
It is about inner growth, about finding the means to mature, to find one's soul. It is entertaining, too.
What is your ideal film?
I like films with glorious endings, films which also say something about the human condition.
What was it like working with Farhan Akhtar?
I wanted to quit the film the first day [laughs heartily]. It was like being in the army. There was a strict regimen. I have never worked under such disciplined conditions.
Not even in your father's films?
Dad is quite disciplined and a task master but Farhan was quite something else. The kind of intensity I underwent for his film, I never had to take it from my Dad. It took me quite a few days to get used to Farhan's protocol. I could feel day after day that not only was I growing as an actor but also as a person with discipline.
Is he the youngest director you have worked with?
I think so. We are almost the same age [Farhan is a day older than Hrithik]. He is very focused. So am I.
What are some of the most important things you have taken from Farhan Akhtar?
To play up my comedic talent.
But you have done comedic parts before Lakshya came about, isn't it?
Yes, but there was a big difference here. In other films, I was conscious of what I was doing. But Farhan has this excellent gift of bringing out the emotions in his artistes in a very natural way.
When I saw the completed film, I wondered how I had managed to be so natural.