Fenil and Bollywood

Posts Tagged ‘politician

While Katrina Kaif is trying her best to convince Prakash Jha to let her feature in an item song in Rajneeti, he is looking for another prominent actress as he doesn’t want Katrina to deviate from her staid role in the film

By Kunal M Shah (MUMBAI MIRROR; December 12, 2009)



Even though she has completely shed her glam doll image to play a politician in Prakash Jha’s Rajneeti, Katrina Kaif is reluctant to give up the jhatkas and matkas that are such an integral part of being a Bollywood actress.

So what if she plays a prim and propah neta in Rajneeti? It doesn’t stop her from wanting to dance to a club song in the film. While Katrina wants to let out her filmi side, filmmaker Prakash Jha doesn’t want her to deviate from her role and is currently looking out for another actress to perform in the song.
A source said, “No matter how serious his films are Prakash Jha usually makes it a point to have one much-talked about song. For Rajneeti, he has a club mix hip-hop number composed by Pritam. Katrina, who is the film’s lead actress, has expressed a keen interest in being part of the song.

However, Jha feels that he should get another established actress for the song and has already spoken to some likely candidates. Katrina clearly doesn’t want to give up on her image as a commercial actress and wants to feature in the song as after the initial few scenes in Rajneeti, she goes completely deglam. Getting to dance to this masala number was perhaps her way of ensuring that her sexy image remains intact. But knowing Jha he will get some other actress for the item song.”

Prakash Jha confirmed the news and said, “Yes, we have a club song which Katrina is extremely keen to do. But, I have yet to decide on several aspects of the song. Ranbir (Kapoor, lead actor of Rajneeti) is definitely not part of the song and I will soon finalise who will feature in the number.”

Completely denying the news, Katrina Kaif said, “Rubbish. I don’t know anything about this.”

WHAT AN ACT: Amitabh Bachchan as Auro
Auro shares a few of his well-kept secrets…


MEENA IYER Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; December 1, 2009)


VENUE: Amitabh Bachchan’s office, Janak. The place is swarming with print and television journalists. Reason: Auro, the kid from AB Corps and Reliance BIG Pictures’ Paa, a film that is releasing worldwide on December 4, is around giving interviews. Auro is a very shy kid; but he’s up to a few pranks and interviews today…

Hi Auro, how are you today?
I’m a little tired because many people are coming to talk to me. Sometimes I get tired when so many people talk to me. Do you get tired when people talk to you? I am happy that you came to talk to me.

How is your Paa?
My Paa he is a very important man. He is what they call, something po…yes politician. Yes, I remembered he is an MP. He is very nice to me. He took me to see Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi. I went for a walk in the park with him. And, when I got tired he carried me on his back.

Do you like your Paa more or your mother?
I like both of them. Mom is a gynaecologist. She makes babies. She doesn’t give me khichdi to eat. I love khichdi. I want to put mirchi (chillies) in the khichdi. And she doesn’t allow it. Because I will fall ill. She gives me chocolates and milk shake. I love chocolate flavour.

Do you have girls in your school?
Ya, but I do not like them. Because one girl, she is always looking at me. I run away from her. I have a gang of six boys. They always tease me about this girl.

What is her name?
I don’t want to tell.

How is Uncle Balki who made this film Paa with you?
He used to get annoyed with me. If I didn’t do things properly he would tell me to do it again. It is tough to do the same thing again and again. I don’t know why Uncle Balki did like that. But I like him.

Are you holding a special screening for your schoolmates?
I want all the children to come and see my film Paa. It is going to release on December 4. You please come and see it also.

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Parinda, Satya, Vaastav, Company and Gangster-these are handful of Hindi films which were based on the mafia/gangster menace and also very well executed. Now Baabarr should be added to this list of ‘finest gangster films of Bollywood’! The film is violent, gory and raw but at the same time, it’s thoroughly engrossing packed with award-winning performances and amazing execution! It was a must-watch but unfortunately, was missed by many!

The story of the movie: The film is based in Amarganj, the Uttar Pradesh town where criminal incidents occur daily and has become a part and parcel of the residents. In one of its dingy lanes, Baabarr (Sohum Shah) emerges as a ruthless gangster. Working with his 5 brothers, Baabarr runs an extortion racket and doesn’t think twice before killing. The govt entrusts the task of eliminating Baabarr and his gang and all their activities to S P Dwivedi (Mithun Chakraborthy). How Dwivedi, along with corrupted Daroga (Om Puri) go about doing their duty is what follows next in the film.

Director Ashuu Trikha may not accept, but the truth is that Baabaar, undoubtedly, is based on dreaded UP gangster, Rafiq Qureshi’s life. The director and the screenwriter (Ikram Akhtar) wonderfully trace Baabarr’s journey from his first murder at 12 years to his death at just 22 or 23 years. The film keeps you on the edge of your seat right from the beginning and has several high-voltage shocking scenes which give goosebumps.

One of the four factors that make Baabaarr stand out is that it takes us to a world which we are ignorant about. The film throws light on Amarganj where murders take place casually, where people have more guns in their houses than chairs, where people are never ever given lessons on good manners and where people are addressed as ‘Oye Pehelwan’ instead of ‘Hey Dude’! However, the setting doesn’t look unrealistic at all (it isn’t actually) and the viewer absorbs everything that is projected in the film. Secondly, every character in the film is added with a purpose and each of them is damn interesting. My 5 favourites were Baabarr, Daroga, Maamu (Tinnu Anand), Sarfaraaz (Shakti Kapoor) and the sexiest one in the film, Tabrez (Sushant Singh)!
Thirdly, everything that happens in the film has a purpose. Meaning, none of the scenes were unnecessarily added-it was all connected to the main plot. For instance, one may feel that grown-up Baabarr’s intro scene where he kills a businessman named Jilani was just added to project Baabarr’s ruthless and merciless nature. But the scene is well connected to the next one and also to the storyline. And lastly, the climax of this film is shocking! There is an excellent twist that takes place which catches you unawares! It doesn’t spoil the film at all and also looks justified. In short, a great work by the writer-director duo!

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Some scenes of the film are memorable. Baabarr’s first murder at 12 and Baabarr killing Jilani in his own factory set the mood. Tabrez finishing Akram in a cow slaughter house is gruesome scene but clapworthy. The intermission point was easily the best scene of the film!

The only glitch in the entire film is that it gets a bit slow in the 2nd half.

Every actor in the film has pitched in a fabulous performance-in fact, much much better than their other films in recent times. Newcomer Sohum Shah rocks with his finest performance. Since it his debut, he doesn’t come with the baggage of any past significant performance and thus, one connects to his character instantly. Also, the actor wonderfully exhibits the ruthlessness that his character needed. Even his dialogue delivery rocked. This year, except Raj Singh Chaudhary of Gulaal, none of debutants have managed to impress and hence, Sohum has high chance of bagging the Best Debut award next year!

However, the question arises that based on his appearance and the kind of character he played in Baabarr, will he be offered other types of roles in future? I hope he gets as he’s a truly a gem! Best of luck! (P.S.: Is Sohum Shah Mukesh Shah’s son who is the co-producer of the film?!)

Mithun Chakraborty does his job with élan. His meeting with Sohum is an explosive scene! Om Puri rocks and this was certainly one of the finest performances of his life. The way he changed his mannerisms, walking style and accent for this role and did a great job is definitely praiseworthy. Same goes for Sushant Singh who delivers phaadu performance! I have loved this talented actor since 16 December and am impressed to see him in such an interesting role. Here is an actor who deserves to be a superstar!

Urvashi Sharma was fine but one may argue that her character was unnecessary. Mukesh Tiwari was brilliant, esp in the pre-climax scene inside the prison. Ditto for Tinnu Anand, who shows his extremely talented side in the pre-climax. Shakti Kapoor is surprisingly, extremely likeable! Govind Namdeo was as usual. Kashish Khan as Baabarr’s wife gives a nice ‘Kaminey’s Charlie-type’ performance! Abbas Ali Moghul, the action director of the film, is there for a scene and plays the role of Akram Qasai. He’s a great actor! Pratima Kazmi plays Lilavati, a character based on Mayawati. Shockingly, a beep tone is inserted whenever her name is mentioned in the film! Others also do a great job.

Anand Raj Anand’s music was alright. The title song is impressive. Suhass Gujarathi’s cinematography is brilliant and the dingy by-lanes of Uttar Pradesh towns are well captured. Abbas Ali Moghul charms as the actor and also as the action director! Although some scenes had too much bloodshed, it was needed. Sunil Singh’s background score was in sync with the film’s mood.
Vikram Misra and Ikram Akhtar’s dialogues were one of the best things about the film. The best dialogue of the film (and one of the best in recent times) is: “Gas khatam ho gayi hai…tujhe jalakar chai banayenge tujh pe!” Absolutely rocking!

Ikram Akhtar has also written the story and script of the movie and he excels thoroughly! The film keeps you on the edge of the seat and doesn’t bore even for a moment! Great job by Akhtar, who has scripted some contrastingly light films like Nayee Padosan, Joru Ka Ghulam, Chal Mere Bhai etc!

Finally, Ashuu Trikha is a revelation! The director has always done a fine job in his past films (Deewanapan, Sheesha, Alag) but was let down by faulty scripts. In Baabarr, however, he is armed with a flawless script and he does a brilliant job. He succeeds in exposing the gangster-police-politicians nexus that is rampant in the interiors of the country and where lawlessness prevails. Hats off to Ashuu and hoping to see him with such nice films in future!

Some of the best scenes of the film:
1.   Baabarr’s childhood
2.   Baabarr finishing Jilani
3.   Tabrez’s entry
4.   Baabarr and Tabrez’ confrontation during the tender meeting
5.   The intermission point
6.   Baabarr shot
7.   Dwivedi teaches Daroga a lesson
8.   The last 25 minutes

On the whole, Baabarr is surely one of the best gangster films that has come out from Bollywood. Although it has excessive violence, it manages to impress with his intriguing execution and performances. The film wasn’t publicized well when it released in September this year. But now, all movie buffs, do catch it on DVD! Don’t Miss It!

My rating-**** out of 5!

This review first appeared on MouthShut.com: http://www.mouthshut.com/review/Baabarr-178084-1.html

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ZOOMING AHEAD: Sanjay Dutt and (below) with Ajay Devgn doing the ‘dostana’ act in the film

Munnabhai returns to comedy this Diwali

MEENA IYER Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; October 9, 2009)


Tuesday’s assembly elections have robbed actor turned-politician Sanjay Dutt of precious sleep. Political bigwigs have been having midnight trysts with the actor, who is shooting round the-clock for a thriller at a suburban studio. However, mention his Diwali (October 16) release — Devgn Films’ All The Best, in which he returns to comedy — and Sanjay’s face breaks into a smile.
Bollywood’s Munnabhai, who displayed a comic side to his personality with the most famous comedy franchise, is geared up for yet another rib-tickling situational comic film. He admits that the film’s a laugh-a-riot with clean humour, to be enjoyed by the entire family.

Every character is involved in a series of madcap situations, but Sanjay says he was hesitant to do a scene that had slight overtones of a gay relationship. Praising director Rohit Shetty, he says, “He assuaged all my apprehensions and before you knew it, I was actually enjoying the scene.’’ Well, and what is that famous scene? Sanju reminisces, “There is a scene in which I’m fast asleep, and an equally drowsy Ajay, who mistakes me for his girlfriend Bipasha Basu, climbs on top of me and tries to seduce me.’’

Laughing his guts out, Sanju adds, “Like I said, I’m also fast asleep in the scene with my head covered, so initially I’m enjoying Ajay’s affections but when I realise what is happening, I freak.’’

The smile doesn’t leave his face. “It’s something I’ve never done before. But like I said, All The Best is a complete fun film and there are many such funny situations. Despite all my initial reservation about some of the comic scenes, once I got into character, I just decided to go ahead and have a ball shooting for it.”

For someone who looks so casual about his work, Sanjay is said to have an elephant’s memory, he can mouth three page dialogues after just glancing through it a couple of times. “When you’re doing comedy, the first take is invariably the best because most often it comes straight from the heart. Trying to replicate the same magic over and over again sometimes doesn’t work,’’ he reveals.
Well, to see if Munnabhai at what he is best at, one will just have to wait till this Diwali.


The 51st show of her play Muktidhaam was cancelled at the last minute after she complained of breathlessness on Saturday evening
By Kunal M Shah (MUMBAI MIRROR; September 07, 2009)

Television actress-politician Smriti Irani’s frail health has become a constant source of worry. She was admitted to a hospital in Andheri on Saturday evening when she complained of breathlessness while she was on her way to Mulund for a screening her play Muktidhaam in which she plays the lead role. She was discharged on Sunday morning and has been recuperating at home.

Smriti in Muktidhaam

Our source said, “Smriti was on her way to perform for the 51st screening of her play Muktidhaam when she suddenly started feeling quite unwell. She complained of uneasiness and breathlessness and was immediately taken to a hospital in Andheri. The audience was informed about Smriti’s ill health and the play was replaced at the last minute by another one on Saturday evening. Even yesterday’s show at the Sophia auditorium in Breach Candy was cancelled at the last minute and replaced by one of her other productions, Ek Chokri Saav Anokhi. Smriti was discharged on Sunday but has been advised complete bed rest.”

Kamlesh Mota, director of Muktidhaam, confirmed the news and said, “Smriti was fine on Saturday morning after our 50th show of Muktidhaam. After the show, Smriti even bought a cake and we had a small celebration at her house. But as she suddenly had a breathing problem, we had to not only cancel the evening show but also all the shows for the next few days.”

Incidentally, Smriti has already been hospitalised twice due to exhaustion and overwork. She was also hospitalised in November 2006 after being diagnosed with dengue and typhoid.

Despite repeated attempts, Smriti Irani remained unavailable for comment.

Sudhir Mishra to make a sequel to Iss Raat ki Subah Nahin with Irrfan Khan and Chitrangda Singh

By Subhash K Jha (MUMBAI MIRROR; August 23, 2009)

Chitrangda Singh

2 Days, 2 Nights & a Morning is what the quasi-sequel to Sudhir Mishra’s 1996 film Iss Raat ki Subah Nahin is called. And while the experimental film featured Sudhir’s then favorite Smita Patil lookalike Smriti Mishra, for the sequel he will go ahead with his current favorite, Chitrangda Singh. Along with Chitrangda will be Irrfan Khan and Arunoday Singh, politician Arjun Singh’s grandson who has debuted with Sikandar and is currently filming Ayesha with Sonam Kapoor.

Sudhir says, “While Iss Raat ki Subah Nahin had an assortment of characters, the new film is basically about two people on a collision course over a period of three days. While Iss Raat ki Subah Nahin unfolded in just one night, this one will take longer.”

While the earlier film was set in Mumbai, 2 Days, 2 Nights & a Morning will take his cast to Delhi and Haryana. To be produced by Reliance Big Pictures, Sudhir wants to start working on the sequel right away. Sudhir’s political drama, Dhruv, starring Farhan Akhtar and Kareena Kapoor is on a hold right now due to Kareena’s dates. “Kareena is keen to do Dhruv, but only after Saif Ali Khan’s Agent Vinod is completed. She is holidaying with him these days. So in the meanwhile, as I simply can’t be resting at home and need to direct films, I’ll get started on the new film.”

Sanjay Dutt to play a neta in a hard-hitting political expose; hopes it will revamp his image as a politician
By Subhash K Jha (MUMBAI MIRROR; August 21, 2009)

Kangna Ranaut

Sanjay Dutt

In all these decades in the industry, Sanjay Dutt has never done a hardcore political thriller. But now that he’s had a taste of netagiri, Dutt is ready for the challenge. This may just work wonders for Sanjay’s career.

Sanjay, who returned to Mumbai after two months of shooting in Cape Town, has set aside all his assignments to act in a new film that promises to revamp his political image.

The untitled thriller, set in real time, will have no songs and frills and only has three main characters who never come face to face.

The  film which will be directed by the Hyderabad-based Mani Shankar (whose last espionage film Mukbiir was critically acclaimed) is about siphoning and laundering of trillions of dollars from India and being placed in unknown locations the world over.

Sanjay Dutt and Irrfan Khan play two government agents from different walks of life who come together to raise Rs 32,000 crore in two hours.

The two-hour thriller will unfold in real time from 11 am to 1 pm.

Even more interestingly, Kangna Ranaut, who teams up with Dutt for the first time, never meets Dutt in the film.

The film, to be produced by Sohail Makhlai, brings back Mani Shankar to Mumbai to team up with Sanjay Dutt with whom he had last done the disastrous Rudra.

Mani, reluctant to reveal anything, says, “I’m under a confidentiality clause. But the film is partly based on what I saw and heard when I was on the staff in the Prime Minister’s office between 1994-1995. As part of his advisory team during my travels all over the world with the PM, I heard things that never left my mind. I knew some day I’d make a film about what I knew from the whispers in the corridors of power.”

The expose, when put on screen, promises to blow the lid off many international financial scandals where India has been involved.

Dutt, of course, is rejoicing. He gets to play a man who takes on the politicians from the inside.

Sarita Tanwar (MID-DAY; July 31, 2009)

Saif Ali Khan walks in 10 minutes late. He’s looking fresh and surprisingly fit. He gives me a typical filmy hug and announces, “I haven’t had a bath yet.” I tell him that information would’ve been appreciated a few seconds earlier. Even though he is in his gym clothes, he’s not carrying his workout on him.

Must be the blue blood. He settles down on the other end of the couch and dons his serious glasses, “This is the Bengali in me finally coming out. Very Basu Bhattacharya.” Point noted and it’s time for some serious business. He orders coffee and me conversation. And then, we talk about his love, aaj and kal. Excerpts….

The last time you did a light romantic film (Hum Tum), you won a National Award. What are you expecting with Love Aaj Kal (LAK)?
I am not in the least interested in awards. It is a kind of celebration that comes much later. I am hoping for a decent opening and a successful run. That’s it.

That’s it?
I am hoping and expecting that people will like the movie and enough of them will watch it so that the people who have invested in us are not disappointed. I think it is a good movie and it has a good story. I think stories are really important parts of our lives, whether it is reading or watching them or listening to them from an old tailor in Bhopal, sitting at the foot of my bed, when I was a baby. My parents would be on the balcony, talking with adults and this old man would tell me tales of shikar and tigers and how it attacked somebody….

A man with stories! Can I steal him?
Yeah, no! He was about 90 then yaar…

Drat! Okay, hoping LAK does well for you as a producer, or as an actor?
Both. I think it’s more important that it does well. I am playing a Sikh character, and also a contemporary character called Jai, which people may or may not connect to, because of his thinking. There was a little bit of that in Salaam Namaste, where he didn’t want to get married just because she was pregnant, which people did not like as it isn’t the most heroic thing to do. Similarly, Jai doesn’t know that he loves this girl, and he certainly doesn’t believe in marriage and wants to be practical. But the story is how he changes from that into something else.

Sounds like you.
Err, maybe. Maybe, I suppose. But actually, not really. Jai seems quite clear that he doesn’t want to commit to anyone. Maybe I am just making him sound like me. But he’s not really so.

Most actors and filmmakers take trips to Shirdi, Vaishnodevi or Tirupati before their release. Have you done any of that?
(Sounds amused) No. but I believe Dino (co-producer Dinesh Vijan) went to Siddhi Vinayak with the print. I definitely believe in God. And I believe in luck. And I understand why people would want to cover all the bases. There is a big question mark as to what would work, so people try anything. I mean ultimately, when there is turbulence on the plane, and my gut clenches, I do start saying the Ayatul Kursi. Let’s not laugh at people who do these things but I would like to have the strength to say that mandir and prayer aside, there’s a whole lot of other stuff that is in the gray area.

Like numerology? Did you check if you title was ‘balanced’ for success?
No. I don’t believe that much in astrology and numerology even though I think it could be fun sometimes. I find some of these numerologically sound titles attractive. Like Himesh Reshammiya’s film, what was the name..?

Karzzzz?
(Grins) No, that was a bad marketing idea. Especially if the film is even slightly boring. Arre, it was his only film that ran. It was called Aap Kaa Surror The Real Love Story and it was spelled with two A’s and Kambakkht Ishq had two K’s and Singh Is Kinng had two N’s. So it is kind of hip. It has an edge to it.  But when people do it to their names that is not cool.

For a brief while, Kareena was Kariena…
Oh no! Really? I am happy she has changed it back.

So you will never be Saaif, with an extra A?
No chance. But for my films, maybe I would try it. Maybe Love Aaj Kal would have looked better as Love Aaj Kall. Maybe it would be funky.

Deepika is the youngest actress you’ve worked with and Kareena is the youngest girl you’ve been involved with. That’s new!
Yes, it is new. Definitely.

And?
(Smirks) And it makes you health conscious. Like on hand, I will say, “I think I should be much fitter and healthier.” And on the other, I am really happy being 38.

When you are with these 20-plus women, do you feel older, wiser and smarter or there is some connect?
Oh, I connect with them completely. Why it works is because I am quite juvenile and they are quite mature. (Laughs) So it balances out just fine. But seriously, I do feel very happy for the people I have met, the things I have seen, and experienced. I really think I have matured. I have had a really interesting history, even though I say it myself. So if you ask me, being with Kareena or working with someone younger than me, it is a non-issue for me. I really like being me. And I am very confident in that. I am so lucky that I am doing okay in movies also. Because it is another world.

You’ve never promoted a film like this before. Do you find it cumbersome?
(Sighs) Incredibly exhausting. If I see another camera…. (rolls his eyes).

…or a journalist?
No, I think there is a charm to the written word. We learnt early in our careers to speak carefully because the printed word reads differently because it doesn’t like a tone. It can be cold. So you must word yourself intelligently.

Like a text message.
But a personality can be sensed through an sms. I personally don’t like those short forms. I can’t say ‘pls’; I will type ‘please’ (dramatically). And I can’t bear ‘da’ for ‘the’.

Ok, coming back to promotions….
We sat here as a production house and said, ‘Let us make people aware of this film.’ Promotion is such an important part of the film for the producer. Otherwise as an actor, you do the film and then you call the producer and interfere, ‘Where is the hoarding?’, ‘Where is the poster?’.  Now I know that there are 450 million mobile users and 50 million internet users in India and I want to reach everyone. So you get involved in the whole process. It’s better than worrying about what another actor is doing. I see the poster of Kites and think it is phenomenal. I feel, “Wow, Hrithik Roshan is fit, and a good-looking guy. Like an angel sometimes.” It’s not competitive. I am like – let me work harder; let me learn from other people. I put all my energies into producing this movie rather than worrying about what other people are doing.

But you’ve never really worried about competition.
True. Earlier I wasn’t even worried about myself that much as well.

That’s the lazy Leo in you.
Possibly. And it’s also a bit like my father. At some level I don’t want to lose that. When you are successful, then suddenly people start waking up to you. That’s the scary part. I like to put my feet up on ottomans, in Jaipur razais and watch TV and just cut off from everything in the afternoon. But when you are super-successful, then suddenly everyone wants a piece of you. And then they get offended when some top notches of Mumbai society or politician wants to meet you… The challenge is to be successful and yet maintain a balance without offending anybody but keeping your equilibrium.

You’ve not shown the film to your colleagues as well as the media. Why?
I have known you for so long; I can easily call you and say I am having a trial, watch it and tell me what you think. But you are going to sense that my intention is to seduce you somehow into liking it. At the same time, when I have a press show, as a producer, I will invite people and come say a few words and then bugger off. I am not going to hang around till the end and ask people, “Kaise laga, kaise laga.” Because I will be too tense anyway. Even if my friend goes to see the film, forget the press or the industry, somewhere his opinion will start mattering. And I don’t want it to matter.

Won’t your colleagues be upset that you didn’t show them the film?
If you don’t show the film to anyone, then there is no stress. And it is important to be consistent in life. I have never had a trial. I have never called another actor or filmmaker and said, “I want to see your movie, organise a trial, yaar.” Because I think it is more fun to buy my popcorn and go to the theatre and watch the film. The bottom line of the psychology of the whole thing is: If you pay money to buy a ticket, and make a plan to go see it with your family, friends or girlfriend, it is a different psychology than to be invited by me. I am not interested in THAT audiences’ opinion. Someone will be too tense to laugh and the actors would be like, “I would’ve done this scene better.” The producers will say, “Arre, how much money have these guys spent?” The heroines will be, “This girl is rubbish; I am better than her.” So you know there is no barometer.

How do you react when people feel that you are still not established as a solo hero?
I don’t think that’s true. Who can say that now? You are digging out a question from 1992.

No, that is the perception.
What crap! That perception went out with Hum Tum, which was a solo hero film. Then Parineeta was a solo hero.

But you still did Race, with Anil and Akshaye.
Yeah, but if Race had been a flop, it would’ve been only my flop. Let’s get that clear. There are certainly performances that have contributed to the film but I had the most to lose.

Yeah, and even though Race did good business, it was never counted among the big hits. Why?
Dude, I don’t know about that, but as far as the distributors go, they were very happy. It was a 1200 print opening. They opened that film much wider than any other movie of mine.

Also, you didn’t get due credit for its success.
I got the due credit from Ramesh Taurani, who will be happy to pay me for Race 2 and that is the kind of due I am interested in. And the fact is that the audiences have seen the film, and loved it. About the internal politics, I am not really concerned as long as it doesn’t affect my job.

Looking back, do you feel it was a wrong decision to do so many two-hero projects?
No. I have also chosen what I thought were the best roles.

But you’ve even played second fiddle to Madhavan in Rehna Hain Terre Dil Mein.
Yeah but that was not a particularly great time for me. Like any actor, I’ve always chosen the best from what I was offered that year. Some years have not been very interesting, while some have been great. Your aspirations change according to your success ratio. In the beginning, you are just happy to be working. That you have a job, and you have been accepted. Your standards are pretty low. And pretty soon, after a while, you want to be the best there is. The best there has ever been (laughs); you know there is no end to that kind of ego shit.

You recently said you and Kareena didn’t plan to stay engaged forever. Does that mean you’re already engaged?
No. I mean I feel like I am engaged. But I don’t believe in engagements as such; they are a bit old-fashioned.

Your mom said in a recent interview that you both have the family’s blessings.
I am sure mom wants me to settle down. Parents like to tie up everything and they think it’s done. But it is not done even if you are married. Today, marriage is another form of engagement. It is a legal commitment that it is quite easy to get out of. It’s not like: It’s all over and now we can all go to sleep. And anyway it is very important in a girl’s career for her to focus on that. And marriage — let’s be honest — alters your image, your marketability and people lose interest in you. I’d much rather people kept asking, “When are you getting married?” The minute you are married, you are yesterday’s news. And I am not in any rush to get married. Because I am loving this.

Is it tough to manage being together with your tough schedules?
We are balancing our lives beautifully. We are working hard and Kareena is more than a wife, because she loves me. There are so many wives who don’t love their husbands because they are pakaoed after 10 years of being together. Bebo gives me all the time in the world. And when I get done with these two days and the film releases, I will give time. We manage. People laugh at us saying, “Oh you are turning up on the set; she is coming here” but that’s how we manage.

Oh, you are aware of people laughing?
Yeah, of course, but what to do? Initially when the relationship is starting, you want to make each other secure, and you want to tell the world that we are serious about each other. We are not a fly-by-night kind of a thing. So we make commitments on paper, and we say things but before you know it, it gets blown out of proportion.

What if Bebo says she wants marriage?
For an actor and for a working person, it must come at the right time. You must do it when you want to do it, or when you want to have children. We’ve waited for a reason. It is not the 1920s when it was like now we can live together or now we can spend time legally. We can do all that now, without that. People must understand her priorities. She is a film child. She has grown up watching films. She has always wanted this and she has finally achieved it. And I absolutely forbid her to even want to. Tomorrow if she says, “Let’s get married”, I will tell her, “I think you should work for a few years.”

She has been flaunting her ring for a long time.
She can flaunt many rings. I will give her lots of them. Even I wear rings.

What’s going on between you and Shahid? He was quoted saying that you and Bebo were using his name to get publicity.
I am really glad you asked me this because enough has been said now. Shahid seems like a really well brought-up guy and I mean no offence to him. And let’s stop it now. We are both gentlemen and whenever we have met, we’ve shook hands, and that’s it. So I will not listen to anything anybody says. And it sounds so fake to say I sincerely wish him all the best but I want him to know that I have only heard good things about him. And that too from his ex-girlfriend, which leaves me with a sense of respect for the past and God bless him. He seems like a strong man, and a good kid. That’s it.

There were reports that you were offered Kaminey?
I would like to clear once and for all that Vishal Bhardwaj did not offer me Kaminey. We talked about a film about twins. That film might not even have been Kaminey. I hope it is a good film. But right now, I am more interested in my film running. And I am not interested in other people’s downfall because it doesn’t help me in anyway. When Sanjay Dutt went to jail, it didn’t benefit anybody. It just hurt him. So tomorrow, if something happens to an actor, it does not increase your saleability.

All actors say they don’t watch other actors’ films. What about you?
I genuinely don’t watch many Hindi films. But when I do, l like to see what other people are doing and how they perform. Maybe not at a competitive level. Maybe I will learn from them.

Ever considered direction?
Not really. Not at the moment. It is a completely different kind of a ball-game. It is a huge commitment. I like to cut off and stop for a while. But a director is always thinking, writing, then making and then editing – it’s never ending. I think it is a single man’s job. I don’t know how they manage to be in relationships. Is that wrong to say? I think it’s like being a cop; then the girl really needs to understand.

Many would say that about an actor’s job too.
No, an actor can make time and say, “Ab pack up ho gaya and I can go home.”

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