He’s Indian cinema’s own superhero. In a short span of his career he’s done a variety of roles from a thief, to a mentally challenged person, from an ordinary lover boy to a super hero and now a paraplegic in his upcoming movie Guzaarish, which is all set to hit the screens on 19 November.
One of the most good looking, talented and dedicated actors in the Hindi film industry, Hrithik Roshan speaks to Businessofcinema.com about Guzaarish, which according to him has been his most challenging film so far.
Why do you think that a viewer should go to the theatre and watch Guzaarish?
This film is very special to me because of the kind lessons I have learnt while portraying this character. This film is about courage, strength, and smiling through your troubles. This film teaches us how to live our lives. It also teaches us that there is a reason to all your problems and in solving them, instead of crying over problems; focus on how to face them. I think each and every person must come and watch this film. The moment you step out of the theatre after watching this film, you will smile, no matter who you are, where you are, what your problems are, it will make you see how good life really is.
How has this film changed your life?
It has changed my entire perspective to the world around me. This film holds a gift, a gift that I received when I started my preparations for this film and when I met a quadriplegic patient, who has now become a very good friend. I remember the first time that I met this particular person, after spending some five-six hours with him, as I came out of the room, I realized that for the past six hours, I was just smiling and laughing. He had the power to make me smile and laugh for six hours. What I want to say is, because they have been through such hardships in life and because they have to deal with so much pain everyday in their lives, they have conquered, evolved and have the power to teach us how to live our life. The advice that I received in those six hours is the gift that this film holds and I took it upon myself as a responsibility to portray that dignity, that attitude towards life in this character.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your character in Guzaarish?
My role in Guzaarish is the most challenging role in my life. And at the same time, it is my easiest also. I play the character of Ethan in the film. He’s a magician who’s seen so much glory and fame and after a near-fatal accident during a performance as magician, he is wheel chair bound. It’s the story of one man who did not give up and fought through his life. After playing this character, I have fallen more in love with life. Having said that, the real heroes of the film are all those people with whom I interacted, the patients who suffer from complete paralysis of the lower half of the body. They are real life superheroes and I am representing their emotions on screen. I have never felt so responsible towards a character that I have essayed in any of my films.
After Kites you have done a playback in Guzaarish too, do we see a new singer in the making?
(Laughs) Yes. I have sung in this film. It was very difficult to sing the song because it is emotional and I had to sound real but then, I am not a singer and so was allowed to make mistakes. Sanjay Leela Bhansali has done the music for the film and he’s a genius. I don’t think anyone in the world, except him, could have justified the music of this film. The song is not yet out but I hope people will love the song. I do enjoy music and singing but I would not sing if I feel it is not necessary. What I mean to say is that for a film like Kaho Na Pyaar Hai, you needed a perfect singer and I would not even try. But, I would not mind singing for my character in Guzaarish because it comes from the character’s soul and other’s voice would not sound real.
Dhoom 2, Jodhaa Akbar and now Guzaarish, this is your third film with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. How is she as a co-star?
She is one of my favorite co-actors. Ash and I have proven to be very successful! She is the most talented actors of Bollywood. It seems like doing three films together is too little, I would love to do more films with her. (Smiles!)
It is said that Sanjay Leela Bhansali is a very difficult person to work with. Do you agree to that?
Yes I was warned that he is mad and screams and shouts at people. However, I never experienced any of that. There was calm and peace on the sets and we bonded so well. I feel our equation worked because of the kind of actor I am and the kind of person he is. When two creative people’s minds work towards the same goal, the equation is a happy one. He’s very passionate about his films so may be his passion for his films is often misinterpreted. He pampers his actors and he’ll do whatever is in his capacity, to make you comfortable and happy. He’ll go on till he takes out the best in you and that is an actor’s delight.
What was the most difficult shot for you in the film?
The most difficult scene in the film for me was a dance sequence for which I had to work the hardest in my life. I trained a full month for it. Even though it’s not a long piece of dance, it was the toughest I’ve ever done. Ashley Lobo has choreographed it. If you’re not used to dance, you can take four-five months to learn it, but I just had one month. All the steps are mostly jazz, ballet kinds. It’s a lot about the form, the stance, the spins – it’s the toughest thing I’ve tried. It was also difficult because the entire song is with a ball in the hand. I’m playing with the ball and I’m also dancing.
Did you as a person identify with the story, knowing that you were nursing a severe knee problem yourself?
Yes, doctors had told me that my knee will never be okay and I was almost going into depression thinking that now my life was over. My state of mind helped me to identify with the story. The script energised me so much that I was not depressed about my knee problem anymore. You also had to shed your fit and toned look to look unwell and unfit for the film. Tell us more about that.
After years of disciplined diet, workout, I decided to live on another extreme and for once it was fun to let go of control. I stopped going to the gym and I had the liberty to have all the fried stuff because I had to look fat in some parts of the film. I fed myself batata wadas, samosas and other a lot of other unhealthy fried stuff for six to seven months just to look the character. Having said that, it did take a toll on my health.
The film also talks about mercy killing. Does it take a stand on it?
Guzaarish does not take any stand on mercy killing. It is an individual story and the audience has to see the issue of mercy killing from the point of view of the character. It is not about mercy killing but the strength of a paraplegic who lives a full life after the accident. He has lived a magician’s life and does not want to watch the curtains come down. He wants to gallop to the end with his eyes open.
Of late you have been working more with your father and considerably less outside. Why is that?
It’s not a conscious decision. My father has to make films. So, whenever he is ready with a film that he loves and I love, it has so happened that he chose me as the lead protagonist.
Now that Guzaarish is all ready for release, what next?
My next film is called Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara directed by Zoya Akhtar and after that I’m starting Agneepath with Karan around January.