'I have never thought of Hrithik as an actor'
Rakesh Roshan on his superstar son
I had never thought of Hrithik as an actor. In fact, I would've liked him to be in a more secure profession, but he was destined to be here, it seems.
As a child, he loved to dance and regale guests at parties. He was quite a dancer as a kid. Everybody used to make him perform and he did so with aplomb.
Subsequently, my father-in-law (J Om Prakash) once cast him in a film Bhagwan Dada as a child artiste, but I was so apprehensive about him making a fool of himself that I walked away from the shoot. Later, when I saw him in the film, I was taken aback at his confidence. I didn't think he had it in him.
He was a very stubborn kid and he never did what he didn't want to. We couldn't make him eat or drink anything if he didn't like it. But his stubbornness was really something. If he set his heart on something, he wanted it, no matter what the circumstances were.
He was also a perfectionist and spent hours doing things he enjoyed like playing with dinky cars or building things with Lego. At these times, he was oblivious to everything around him. He was also quite happy to be alone.
Hrithik was very good at cycling -- he'd ride his bicycle on one wheel and perform all kinds of stunts -- and he'd learnt these all by himself through practice. Perfectionism was a quality he showed very early in life, though we didn't view it that way at the time. He needed to do things just right.
He wasn't really scared of me. I remember hitting him only once but very badly. He cried and I felt remorseful because I realised he didn't know the repercussions of his action.
He'd gone to the terrace of our building with a friend. There, they found crates of empty beer bottles and they started throwing them down one by one, not realising how they could have hurt somebody. I entered the building in my car and saw this and thrashed him!
He was always fond of music and even learnt a little. He can play the harmonium and sing.
As a person, Hrithik is very aware. He understands the problems of others and empathises with them. He's the kind of person who wants to solve other people's problems.
He's always been sensitive and soft hearted. He could never stand anyone's pain and always wanted to help. This is both his weakness and his strength.
His reasoning is that if he trusts people, they will trust him. That's like saying if you love somebody, you'll be loved in return.
I am yet unable to understand this craze about him.
I can understand girls, boys, women and men being his fans, but when one-and-a-half and two-year- old children says 'Hrithik' it bewilders me -- how can they decide they like this person called Hrithik at a time when the only thing they can say is 'mama' and 'papa.'
What do they see in him? Does he reflect innocence or straightforwardness? What is it that makes them zero in on him when there is so much of other stuff to view?
I have travelled with him earlier and have seen people with him. It was in March, a couple of months after Kaho Naa...Pyaar Hai's release. We were going to Nashik for some function and had a chartered flight.
At the airport there was a mob as the whole airport had gathered around and I thought, "My God I have never seen anything like this in spite of having traveled with so many actors before."
It was impossible to sit in the VIP lounge so I requested the staff to take us to the hangar where the small plane was standing. We
were taken there but here I found thrice the crowd that was inside - complete families with children standing around. I don't know how they reached there. Hrithik signed autographs and shook hands the whole time before we took off.
The airport at Nashik is very far away from the main town. But here also we found hundreds of people. It's an air force
station and all the air force pilots, their wives and families had gathered.
The driver, instead of taking us to our hotel, took us somewhere else. When I asked where he was going, he replied that people had come to know that Hrithik was expected and had crowded outside the hotel. He was apprehensive about Hrithik getting mobbed and wanted to go only after the crowd had cleared.
This was my first experience of this kind of devotion. But I don't think any of this will change the basic person that Hrithik is.
Even after his stardom, we are still the same as a family but there is a certain kind of insecurity that anything can happen at any time. We are not free to enjoy everything and anything and have to think 10 times before taking any step.
For instance, after Kaho Naa...Pyaar Hai completed 25 weeks, I wanted to throw a party for my technicians, but I wasn't able to.
As told to Lata Khubchandani