Why Hrithik Roshan found Vedha more appealing than challenging in 'Vikram Vedha'

Bollywood actor takes on shades of grey in new action thriller


Ambica Sachin

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Published: Fri 30 Sep 2022, 12:48 PM

Last updated: Fri 30 Sep 2022, 7:32 PM

He makes bad look so good. Bollywood is rife with actors who let their chiseled bodies and symmetrical features work magic at the box-office, while their histrionics, or lack of it, takes a backseat.

But Hrithik Roshan, despite being endowed with more than average looks, can definitely not be accused of that. Ever since he adroitly danced his way into a besotted audience's heart with Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai in 2000, he has ensured there is enough star power to deliver a punch with each of the roles he has taken on.

Following on from Koi… Mil Gaya (2003) he has cherry-picked projects that showcase his acting chops be it the period romance Jodhaa Akbar (2008) or Guzaarish (2010) where he played a quadriplegic magician chaffing at his tether.

Movies like Bang Bang! (2014) and War (2019) may have profited from slick styling but again there is no taking away from the fact that here is an actor who can switch from brooding intensity to playful glibness with such ease it is like watching two actors come together within the same body. This quality is in full force in neo-noir action thriller Vikram Vedha, the remake of the 2017 Tamil hit of the same name by Pushkar-Gayathri where he plays dreaded gangster, Vedha, with so much panache you nearly want to stand up and whistle when he does the slo-mo walk into the screen. Pitted against another brilliant actor, Saif Ali Khan (who plays encounter specialist Vikram), the movie attempts to showcase how, often what we presume to be black or white need not be so. We catch up with Hrithik even as the movie plays out to UAE audiences.

Movies have evolved from the good versus bad dilemma to darker themes. As an artist how challenging is it to play a grey character like Vedha especially considering we have been conditioned to choose white over black, good over evil etc?

I personally do not believe in black and white nor good or evil. I believe there is a certain goodness in any and every individual, the shades of grey or black are just layers added on top. Once you look deep enough, there will always be a bright light that shines in our core. So in this context, playing a character who has shades of grey didn't seem any different.

Opting to play Vedha seemed rather appealing, than challenging to me. As an artist I try to understand and connect with my onscreen character, in this case Vedha. He is a guy who is tough on the outside, yet very sensitive on the inside. Portraying him onscreen was a rather interesting journey for me.

Vikram Vedha is a remake of the 2017 Tamil film. What appealed to you most about the original that you were willing to lead the Hindi make of it?

It was the script of Vikram Vedha that was largely the deciding factor for me, followed by the fact that the film would be directed by Gayatri Ma'am and Pushkar Sir.

The core of Vikram Vedha remains intact. Our collaborative effort on the film was to present it and package it for a theatrical experience for a larger Hindi speaking audience base.

There’s so much focus on pan-Indian movies right now. But the South film industry and Bollywood seem to have different cinematic sensibilities if you go by the movies that become hits on both sides - what is the common ground between the two, according to you?

I believe in the collective strength and potential of Indian cinema. Presently, I think the audience is responding to content that's real and relevant. The power of cinema is such that it transcends language and cultural barriers, provided the audience connects with the content offered.

Action thrillers involving the cop and criminal trope are common in Bollywood and elsewhere. What makes Vikram Vedha different?

The intricately woven story of Vikram Vedha by filmmakers Gayatri and Pushkar is the X-factor according to me. The story brilliantly marries action and emotion against the backdrop of a thrilling plot.

Watching you play Vedha is mesmerising - from your mannerisms to the dialogues… why is that we are always so attracted to dark characters?

My focus lies in being a part of stories that underline the human spirit. Whether a character is grey or white comes secondary in the scheme of things. The story of Vikram Vedha is of two individuals with contrasting personalities who face a set of moral ambiguities. The narrative of the film is what attracted me to be a part of it.

Vikram Vedha is out and you now have Fighter shoot coming up. How easy is it for you to move between such high profile projects. What’s your method as an actor to cut off from one character and move on to the next especially such dark ones like Vedha?

Yes, I am in a period of transition and I'm currently prepping for my next, Fighter. We wrapped the shoot of Vikram Vedha in June this year, and I allowed myself a couple of months to unwind before beginning training for my next since early September. This period of transition is a gradual process for me as I deconstruct my previous work, unwind by maintaining a healthy work-life balance before commencing my next. This approach helps me to deliver distinctive performances, as I move on from one onscreen character to another, all while preserving my real life identity.

Hrithik with director duo Pushkar-Gayatri
Hrithik with director duo Pushkar-Gayatri

A portion of Vikram Vedha was shot in the UAE as well making it more special for local audiences. What makes the city such an attractive place for shoots?

Filming in Abu Dhabi was my first experience of normalcy post pandemic. It was a schedule that lasted a couple of months, beginning in October 2021. The shoot was conducted in a bio-bubble set up for safety concerns. We extensively filmed outdoors while in Abu Dhabi, and the entire schedule flowed seamlessly. The city serves as a perfect location to shoot due to the open spaces and privacy it offers. One can actually call it the 'film hub' when it comes to ease and practicality as a shooting location.

Of late there has been a lot of discussion on how Bollywood needs to reinvent itself to succeed in a post-Covid world. The debacle of many mainstream films in 2022 alone have raised questions about the kind of films that audiences are willing to step out for. What makes Vikram Vedha a perfect big screen cinema according to you in this context?

I think the audience is drawn to a lot more real and relevant content today. The access to global cinema has led to an evolved taste for them. This I believe is a very good thing, as it is them who are providing the Indian film industry with valuable feedback. With feedback comes growth. And a state of growth and evolution brings with itself endless potential.

Vikram Vedha is big on entertainment while being big on emotions too. The characters in the film, their lifestyle and representation are all done in the most real manner. It is rare for an action thriller to be high on emotions, but Gayatri Ma'am and Pushkar Sir have written the script so beautifully that it will make you experience a plethora of emotions. So overall, I think Vikram Vedha is a film that will leave you stimulated by the end of it. (Fingers crossed)

Bollywood is mainly known for solo hero shows and having a movie like Vikram Vedha where the focus is on two powerful protagonists/antagonists is a bit rare. What is it that appeals to you the most in Saif, as a co-actor?

I had earlier worked with Saif 20 years ago.. So there is certainly a level of comfort that we share. Reuniting with him on the sets of Vikram Vedha was a fulfilling experience for me as an actor. Saif is someone who is very real both on and off screen. He states his heart and mind out without any filters. Onscreen, his acting prowess is such that it pushed me to deliver my best. It is his passion for cinema that I admire the most. I respect him deeply, and would love to collaborate with him again in the future if we have the opportunity.

Vikram Vedha is out now in UAE theatres

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