Director Sooraj Barjatya [Maine Pyar Kiya (Salman Khan, Bhagyashree), Hum Aapke Hain Koun! (Salman, Madhuri Dixit), Hum Saath-Saath Hain (Salman, Saif Ali Khan, Mohnish Behl, Tabu, Karisma Kapoor, Sonali Bendre)] has created yet another Prem.
This time, however, he is not Salman.
"I'm playing the character of Prem," says Hrithik Roshan, who stars -- with Abhishek Bachchan and Kareena Kapoor -- in Sooraj's Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon.
"It was great fun doing the film," he says, particularly since MPKDH's Prem is nothing like the characters that led Sooraj's earlier films.
"Prem's character is out of the world. He is a bit too special. He has a pure heart and a very strong conscience. The best thing about him is that he feels everybody he meets is good. He is always happy and never lets the downs in life faze him. He has immense strength. He is flamboyant, loves dancing and jet water scooting and scuba diving. I have never played such a character before."
Hrithik says he has essayed Prem's character to the best of his ability. "I have done this role with conviction. But at this moment, I cannot sit here and judge whether I did a good job. One thing about Prem is that, however realistically you portray him, he is not to be found in real life. He is like a fantasy. But I am sure people like Prem exist in the world."
Asked what it was like to work with Abhishek, who has been painted as his rival by some sections of the media, Hrithik says, "Yes, it is the media who said he was my rival. I know Abhishek since my school days; I used to travel with him in our school van.
"The best part about doing this film is that I got to work with two people I am extremely comfortable with -- Kareena and Abhishek. You see, acting is about give and take. If you have a good actor in front of you, your acting automatically becomes better."
As to what it was like to work with Sooraj, he says, "I have never seen a person as good as Sooraj Barjatya. He was so nice to me. He gives so much importance [to his cast and his crew]. I often wonder what it is I have done to have got this opportunity to work with him. He is the most honest director [I have met]. He is not at all manipulative."
Commenting on MPKDH's music, which has been composed by Anu Malik, Hrithik says, "The music is great. My favourite song in the film was Chali aayi, but I later shifted my loyalty to another song because I thought that was much better. A few days later, I felt a third song was better than the other two. So every time I shot for a new song in the film, I felt that was my best song."
Asked how he felt when almost all his releases after his debut film Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai (co-starring Amisha Patel) flopped -- with the exception of Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (its ensemble cast included Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Kareena and Rani Mukherji) and, to a certain extent, Mission Kashmir (Sanjay Dutt, Preity Zinta, Jackie Shroff) -- Hrithik says, "My films failed, but my roles were appreciated. At present, I am doing fewer films because I want take my time and choose the best ones. While making films like Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai and Koi Mil Gaya [both films are his father Rakesh Roshan's productions; the latter stars Preity], I was on constant high. I was excited because I wanted to do those films. Now, I am being selective [because I want to feel that kind of excitement for all my films]."
He adds, "I am working on only one film now and that is [Farhan Akhtar's] Lakshya. After it is over, I will look forward to signing a new film. But now I want to be choosy about the roles I do."
How did he feel when the media buried him with the same speed that they had anointed him superstar? "I entertain myself by reading such things," he grins. "The media made me God. Now, the same magazines say Hrithik Roshan is finished. At one point, they were selling my face. They were saying the star had arrived."
But did he feel hurt by this volte-face? "Not at all," he says. "After all, I created history. Why should I bother [what the media says]? It is all part of the game."
Asked how MPKDH is different from his earlier films, he says, "That is a difficult question to answer. But I can say this: Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon is special because it is a Sooraj Barjatya film. I think if you make a film with your heart [like he does], it will be a hit."
If MPKDH is, like Hrithik hopes, a hit, it will boost three careers -- that of Hrithik Roshan, Kareena Kapoor and Abhishek Bachchan. The Barjatyas, particularly director Sooraj, will also be very pleased -- after all, Hum Saath-Saath Hain did not match the super-duper success of his earlier directorial ventures.