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For those who are wondering what he's up to after the box office success of Kal Ho Na Ho, here's an update. He is shooting for Ashutosh 'Lagaan' Gowatrikar's big budget Swades and for Yash Chopra's new venture. Besides, he is also the subject of a new book by Anupama Chandra. City Times met up with him for this freewheeling interview.
How have you managed to be No 1 all these years?
Frankly one needs to put in a lot of effort to maintain their place in the order of things and I seem to have done that. Others too have put in as much effort, and it is not to say that they were not good, I was luckier.
I also think keeping that your position in the film industry depends on the kinds of roles you are getting. I have done some really good films and I have played every kind of character, from the negative to the historical. I have had some of the best moments in contemporary Hindi cinema and more importantly I have worked with the best film makers.
Honestly, I don't know whether I figure in any power list, but I am happy that I have been a part of many successful movies that have been made in recent times.
Considering there is be a power list where would you place yourself?
I don't know if I am at the top. All I can say that I am not down and out. I have done enough good work to believe that I would at least be on the fag end of such a list, if it exists.
Aren't you being a little too modest?
I am just an actor and there are many other people who are involved in the entire process of filmmaking. The Indian hero is considered very huge, the fact is that he isn't. He gets his share of bouquets and brickbats. All I can say that I am a thinking actor and I put a lot of thought before signing any film, hence I take all responsibility for everything that I have done in the last few years. Even as a producer, my earlier films flopped and I take all responsibility for that as well.
Awards, do they mean anything to you now?
Yes. I love collecting awards. I have many of them in my house, and there is very little room for any more. I think I would have to find a bigger house to keep all the awards. I haven't got the National award yet, but I know that will come too. I need to put in a lot of work to deserve in it in the first place. I am quite choosy when it comes to working with people and I will work with people who respect my emotions.
You have been seen as someone who seems to accumulated more than their fair share of tragic roles?
It wasn't intentional, it just happened that all these roles came up. Yes, Devdas has been seen historically as a tragic character. On the other hand the male lead of Chalte Chalte wasn't as tragic and the movie ended on a happy note and it had its moments of fun. Asoka was spiritually tragic and to some extent so was my role in Kal ho Na Ho. So you see these roles just came up. in fact doing these roles have been rather tough on me. I did drink a lot when I was doing Devdas, but then it stopped later. No more method acting for me when it comes to playing a sad man.
In the midst of all this work, how do you manage to find time for your children and how do they react on watching your films?
I try and spend as much time as I can with them. They do watch my films and sometimes they tend to get upset. My daughter cried a lot after she watched the climax scene of kal ho Na Ho. My son on the other hand seems to understand what films are all about, so he didn't. One of my scenes in Main Hoon Na has me dangling from a helicopter, I have to take the effort and explain that all these things are done using special effects. The problem is that I cannot stop doing these movies just because it disturbs my children. There are certain movies that I rather not show them.
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