'I came into politics to bring a smile on people's faces.'
"I share my birth date with the very dignified strong and no-nonsense Mrs Sonia Gandhi," Shatrughan Sinha, who turns 77 on December 9, tells Subhash K Jha.
His career as an actor began in 1968 and admits being an actor was an irrevocable decision.
"When I decided to be an actor it was like a final plunge. I believe one has to excel in one or all three of the following spheres of activity: Sports, education and cinema," Shatruji, who is now a Trinamool Congress MP, says.
"If you can't excel in all three, at least excel in one of these. I succeeded in one. I became an actor. And I wanted to be the best.
"If I was a singer I'd want to be Mohammad Rafi or Kishore Kumar."
"I don't believe in celebrating my birthday or in having a party," says Shatruji. "I am happy about the way things have turned out in my life.
"Also my daughter's career is doing well. Otherwise what is so special about a birthday at this age? It's an occasion to share your happiness with loved ones."
"I want those close to me to be healthy and happy. And I want the nation to be rescued from the clutches of corruption. Those are my birthday wishes."
Shatruji had to struggle hard to get where he is as an actor.
"At that time it didn't seem like a struggle. It was a process I was prepared to go through.
"I started with bit roles in Sajan and Gambler. They were cameos. But they made a big impact.
"I did a number of villains' roles which were very successful."
For the first time audiences applauded when the villain beat up the hero.
"Yes, that too happened. Then I made a successful switchover to hero's roles in my dear friend Subhash Ghai's Kalicharan and Vishwanath.
"Cinema was now a habit rather than a challenge. I got restless, and came into politics to bring a smile on people's faces."
He was known to be quite a flirt in his time. Shatruji doesn't deny it.
"But no woman would ever accuse me of improper behaviour. I have always had the highest regard for women.
"Of course there was a lot of flirting with my co-stars. They enjoyed it as much as I did. But now I'd advise young actors to not indulge in it.
"Times have changed. I feel it is a very important moment in time for the safety and modesty of women in every sphere of Indian life.
"But we must be careful of those who discredit the MeToo movement with their hidden agendas.
"I've always stood up for the rights of women. Their empowerment means the empowerment of our society.
"I've two very empowered women at home -- my wife Poonam and my daughter Sonakshi. I am scared of both."
Shatruji is also happy about sharing his birthday with Sonia Gandhi.
"I share my birth date with the very dignified strong and no-nonsense Mrs Sonia Gandhi. I want to wish her good health and peace of mind."
Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com