I'm forbidden territory
In the South, do they like a little lard on their laadlas?No more so. That's changing there too. Mani Ratnam says he needs me to be slim and trim for his next film. Actually, I was always slim, if not trim. Then, I became complacent and put on weight. Now, I've become very body conscious.
Are you mastering two separate body languages for Tamil and Hindi cinema?
Look, if you mean am I going to develop muscles for Hindi cinema then let me say, I believe in being physically fit. I've lost a lot of weight. But I'm not into building muscles. I've a wonderful physical frame. I just need to maintain a taut jawline and remain fighting fit. That's the trend all over the world. You need to be agile. By building those awesome muscles you somewhere overlook the agility factor. I'm in favour of letting the body find its natural weight level without the help of external stimulants. I 'm not going for a WWF match, so I don't need that much muscles.
How did contemporary South Indian stars react to your infiltration into their ilaaka ?
Shall I be honest? They were very encouraging. After seeing me in Minnale, one of the top guys down there, Vijay, called to say my film was phenomenal and that I had given an amazing performance. He even called up the director to say Minnale looks like a Hollywood film. Sense any rivalry in that?
What about your wife? Is she insecure about your fan following?
Insecurities are bound to be there if a woman is married to a celebrity. Perhaps it's more pronounced if your spouse is goodlooking and part of show business. I'm trying my best to quash her insecurities. We do everything together. She attends every function with me. When I go on an outdoor she accompanies me. When I go abroad to shoot, the producer knows she's going to come along. When I open my e-mail she's right there behind me. She's privy to everything I do. And I like it that way. There isn't a thing in the world that I wouldn't want to do with my wife.
What about the ladies falling all over you?
When my wife is with me all the time, where can they fall? I make sure my wife knows my heroines. The minute I sign a film, I introduce the leading lady to her. Invariably, they become the best of friends. My co-stars Jyothika, Simran and Shalini are my wife's close friends. Not only am I more comfortable with my co-stars when my wife is around, even my leading ladies prefer having me around with my wife. At the end of the day, it becomes very difficult for an actress to do an intimate scene with her co-star if his wife is sitting on the sets being a b**** about it. Having my wife as a professsional ally completely eliminates all tensions on the sets. So far, it's been smooth sailing.
So, no caught-with-pants-down situation so far?
Never. I admit there's a lot of female attention. But to all of them I come as a package deal with my wife. As for my co-stars, thankfully they're an educated lot.
What's basic instinct got to do with being educated?
It counts. It helps to keep the situation on a civilized level. A hep looking sexy woman from a crude family will have no qualms about taking advantage of a situation. But an educated woman would shy away from making a pass. To her being turned down is tantamount to an insult. She takes the hint immediately and knows I'm forbidden territory.
Are there no hints of scandal about you in the Tamil press?
Luckily my reputation in Chennai is as clean as in Mumbai. I had a fan following when I was in the television industry and I did work with some very beautiful women then.
Do you look down on television now?
Are you kidding? I love the medium. It made me. For quite a while now, I won't be able to do television. With my film assignments I'll never be able to do justice to television. At the back of my mind, I'm always going to be thinking, "Oh God, if I did one more film I can buy that new car or apartment." Ultimately I know I'll have to go back to it. It's inevitable. And you know what? I'm looking forward to it.