Playing by his own rules: Hrithik Roshan opens up in this candid interview
After nearly two decades in Bollywood, the star talks about his evolution, his approach to life and how he dealt with his fears
The last time he was in Bengaluru, he looked disturbed. Even his Greek God looks didn’t seem to hide the weariness. Though he was in the city to announce his partnership with a fitness company earlier this year, Hrithik Roshan didn’t seem to be in his best form. Perhaps the controversy with a leading actress that created national headlines was on his mind.
But last week, when we met the star at the launch of Rado’s new HyperChrome Collection, the actor seemed to be back in form. Sporting a baseball cap and round sunglasses, dressed in a black jacket and dark blue denims, Hrithik looked exceptionally dapper. But more than the sartorial details, it was the calm exuberance and the aura around him that seemed to imply that Hrithik is now in a happier zone. Away from the buzz of the event, in the interviewing lounge, though surrounded by his entourage of managers and PR persons, Hrithik opened up to talk about things he is often never asked about.
17 going on 18
Since his debut with Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai, 17 years ago, Hrithik has come a long way. His first film bagged him the Filmfare, IIFA and Zee Cine Awards for Best Debut and Best Actor. Though the next few films didn’t really ring in cash at the box office, Hrithik established himself as one of the most promising young stars with his roles in films such as Fiza and Mission Kashmir. Then came the lull period when most of his films left his fans and audiences disappointed. The only saving grace in this steady setback period was Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. Fast forward to 2017, Hrithik today is one of the actors who has charted his own course. His last film, Kaabil, stands as testament. Despite being released on the same weekend, when Shahrukh Khan’s Raees released, it managed to garner enough interest and set the box office ringing, by entering the 100-crore club.
What’s different about Kaabil’s Hrithik compared to the young Hrithik who made a debut in his father’s film? The actor says, “I think there is less fear. When you start off, you are trying to fit into a mould that has worked for others. You try and use that as an example and fit yourself into that mould to see if you can do the things that other people have done. It’s more an imitation game that you are trying to make your own.”
Despite starring in some unsuccessful projects, one thing that’s noticeable is how Hrithik as an actor is no longer holding himself back. It’s his acting prowess that always cuts across the failure of a film and impresses his loyalists. “Through the journey you kind of shed those layers,” he says thoughtfully, talking about his years in the industry. “You try and deal with the fear of being naked without protective layers, shields, barriers and crutches. That is when true flight starts to occur. I think I have started
discovering and touching upon that experience. It’s taken a lot of time for me. Some artistes have it right away when they start but I came with a lot of fears. I was very protective about myself. I think that’s the most significant change that I can see in myself after so many years,” he admits.
The 100-crore race
One of the things that make audiences rush to theatres for a Hrithik film is that the actor has never been seen in similar roles. He started as Rohit, a poor musician in Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai, and then he was a misguided young Muslim man Amaan, in Fiza, a disturbed Kashmiri who wants to avenge his parents’ death in Mission Kashmir, Rohit Mehra, a special needs child, in Koi... Mil Gaya and the super sexy con artist Mr A in Dhoom 2. These are just some of the roles that make him a versatile actor. When asked what makes him choose different roles, he says, “I get bored very easily. I would rather murder the monotony before the monotony kills the enthusiasm,” he tells us, adding, “If something gets too monotonous, you start to lose your enthusiasm. That’s how it works for me. I love to jump around the spectrum.”
He delivered another power-packed performance as the blind voice-over artiste, Rohan, in Kaabil earlier this year that entered the coveted “100-crore club” of films in Indian cinema. But not one to follow the numbers game, Hrithik calmly says, he is not in this race despite the fact that there is increasing pressure to deliver with every film. “The pressure is good but not through the perspective of comparison. You should want yourself to be the best version of yourself. Your creative product should do the best it can do. Whatever parameters — be it money, box office or praises, whatever works, use those devices to assess whether you have pushed the barrier enough, whether your creative work has found its outcome the way you desired and wished. So whatever the gauges, use them all but do not compare. The moment we start comparing, the numbers game becomes this futile competition within the little pond of people... It’s really silly. But the pressure is good, always good,” he says.
Living on the edge
Whatever the pressure, Hrithik has always managed to overcome difficult phases with ease and elan. Be it unsuccessful films or setbacks in his personal life, the man has never let anything stop him. Despite experiencing lows, particularly this year with a tumultuous episode in his personal life, the actor has managed to pick himself up and is looking ahead as he prepares for his next big project Super 30, where he plays the role of the real life hero, Anand Kumar, an Indian mathematician in Bihar who coaches economically backward students for IIT-JEE.
What keeps Hrithik going, we wonder? He says, “I don’t give myself a choice. It’s almost like you are dying of thirst. All you can look at is that glass of water. You are not going to think about anything else. You are not going to think about how much your knees are hurting, how yesterday was a bad day or if tomorrow might be an even worse day or someone said something to you and you are going to be upset about it. But you are dying of thirst. That’s the glass of water there. Nothing else will be playing on your mind except for the fact that you are going to get that because you are dying of thirst,” he says. But what really guides him is that he knows he is Hrithik, the boy who stammered as a child and had terribly low self esteem because of the additional finger, and even then became one of the superstars of the country and continues to be one.
Yet, the Roshan clan descendent knows he can’t take things for granted, “I have an undying, infallible desire to discover my extreme potential as a human being. This thought guides me to do everything I do and desire for in my life. That’s it. I don’t give myself a choice. We delude ourselves saying it’s ok if we don’t. If you succumb to the struggle you are dead. You have one life, so why not be curious and go through every single hardship with the wonder and curiosity of a child and discover what will happen once you go through this,” he says positively.
Till a few months ago, his life seemed to have been in shambles, but not any longer. Hrithik has bounced back with all the courage and fearlessness he has. However, he admits there is an iota of fear. “The more you are going to lean outside your edge, the more there’s going to be fear. You gotta be okay with that fear. The fear is just anticipation that something is going to go wrong. So it really is an illusion in your head,” he concludes with a big smile that doesn’t imply any idea of an illusion.