The second coming of Dino Morea
The actor already has one hit this year. Will Gunaah prove lucky as well?
"I want to be on the Bombay Times cover this week," declares Dino Morea.
He is referring to the Times Of India supplement circulated in Mumbai. There is a trace of desperation in his voice. Think about it, and you realise it stems from a deep-seated nervousness about the fate of Gunaah, which releases Friday.
After all, he was the hero of one of 2002's most credible hits, Vikram Bhatt's Raaz, starring Bipasha Basu. Of course, Basu, also his real-life girlfriend, walked away with the raves for her performance in Raaz. That does not seem to matter much to Dino.
"She had a great role in Raaz," he says, referring to the supernatural thriller. "But one has to look at the film in totality. My character in Raaz was passive, subtle, and Vikram had told me not to overact. And you know how the industry loves overacting."
Gunaah, which also stars Basu, will see him in a new light, he promises. For he has an "an active role".
What is also evident here is the fact that he enjoys working with Basu. Dead giveaway: the mention of her brings a shy, boyish grin on his face. "She's a great actress and extremely beautiful," he says, indulgently. "She prods you on to be a better actor. Our comfort level is high, since we have known each other for a long time. We also share great onscreen chemistry."
That was a quality sorely missing from his first film Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi (1999), which starred Sanjay Suri and Rinke Khanna. The lighthearted college caper was largely known for one melodious song, Shaan's Musumusu, and not much else.
It could be because as Dino, an ex-model, confesses, "I wanted to do films, but I wasn't ready mentally. I didn't know where to start. Getting bad roles just made it worse."
In fact, Dino admits, "After PMKK, I used to get offers as hero's friend. I refused them all. I started meeting directors, hoping for good roles."
The tide changed after he met filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt. "Fortunately, he offered me Raaz." Post which, Dino set out preparing for his big break. One of which was to watch Vikram Bhatt's earlier film Kasoor, with Aftab Shivdasani and Lisa Ray. Incidentally, Ray was slated to play heroine in Raaz.
He also watched Raaz ten times before it hit the theatres. "Vikram and I felt the film would do very well or fare very badly. I remember when I saw the film for the third time, I began to seriously doubt whether it would do well. You see, by then, the suspense was lost for me, I'd seen the film twice before. Thankfully, the initials were great. It did very well."
Raaz was inspired by Hollywood's What Lies Beneath, starring Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer. But the film "helped me a lot in my career," says Dino, wearing a sleeveless jacket that throws his biceps into flexed relief.
He bagged Gunaah. Directed by debutant director Amol Shetge, the film is about a young fire fighter who turns into a criminal. A policewoman then takes it upon herself to reform him. "I'm basically a good guy, but circumstances make me bad. I'm not the intense, psychotic kind of person. I'm just very angry and intent on taking revenge."
And then comes a rather naοve statement that tells you the actor has a long way to go in the industry: "I've watched many films based on criminals, so I knew how to play the role [in Gunaah]." It might have stood him in good stead, however --- most of the sets of the film shot over 55 days in Mumbai and Udhagamandalam (Ooty), comprised jail cells.
The actor has roles in Sanjay Gupta's Plan, Saaya, Tinu Verma's Baaz, a Rajat Rawail film, a Mukesh Bhatt film and a Neeraj Pathak film.
But his career will really be shaped by the fate of Gunaah. There is a conviction-laden "Gunaah should do well because it is a sensible film with a great screenplay," but there is also that tinge of nervousness.
Understandable: beating 2002's biggest hit, you would admit, is a hard act to follow.