Finding himself in the character he plays in Bang Bang, Hrithik Roshan talks about being in control and why life is never supposed to be fair.
Even with a hole in my brain, my spirit has been intact,” said Hrithik Roshan at the launch of the trailer of Krrish 3 last year. Surgery for chronic subdural haematoma in July, followed by this event in August, and then, just weeks after Krrish 3 became a hit, the heartthrob actor experienced another body blow as he and his wife Sussanne ended a 17-year relationship. But on October 2, the 40-year-old hopes to be back with an explosion — his next film is titled Bang Bang, after all. Sitting in his plush Juhu apartment, he speaks about the films that mean the most to him and why Bang Bang, an official remake of the Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz starrer Knight & Day, co-starring Katrina Kaif, is so important in his 14-year career.
Where does Bang Bang fit into your filmography?
Bang Bang filled up all my needs in terms of the kind of space I wanted to be in. In fact, I discovered that, for the first time, I didn’t have any prep going into the character. Otherwise I am famous for locking myself away and working on getting into the character for days. But I didn’t prep for even a second for Rajveer, and I later discovered that this is me — this character I am playing in this film is actually the person I am.
In what way?
He is so many things. He is strong. He’s also a food-o-holic like me and is either eating or cooking all the time. There are also many similarities between our outlooks on life. There is a great deal of identification.
The film required you to do a great many stunts and all kinds of action scenes. Do you enjoy this space?
I do enjoy it. I have always been very inclined towards challenging myself physically and mentally. To have control over all your senses is a kind of meditative zone. This is why people are addicted to adventure sports — because it forces you to switch off your mind and to be in the moment. One wrong move or one wrong step and you can hurt yourself, so you are completely living in the now. There is no time to think about yesterday’s problems or what might happen tomorrow, like my tyre got punctured or my car has been in the garage for too long or I have no money or whatever. This trains your mind to shut off and be totally aware of where you are in that moment. It is a rebooting and you come back with a change of perspective, and you reframe your thoughts and process for overcoming your problems. It works much better than analysing your recurring thoughts and going into a spiral.
Before Kites, you recovered from a terrible knee injury and then, more recently, the tumor. Did these health issues make you fearful while doing the stunts in Bang Bang?
I never felt fear. I have realised a few tools in my life that came into play when I was hit by these catastrophes — mental, emotional and physical. One of the tools is to never assume anything. Just take things for what they are. Don’t assume the thoughts behind a person’s words; don’t assume what might go wrong, but go by the evidence. The evidence said that 99 per cent of surgeries succeed, so why would I be in the one per cent? The evidence propels me to conclude that I will be OK, so there is no fear. By the time I went in for surgery, I was fully prepped for it. I was singing songs and making videos while in the OT. I was having a ball because I knew it was going to be fine. Most of the suffering in your life comes from anxiety and the assumption that things will go wrong.
You have been through a lot recently — as you said, emotionally, physically and mentally. Are you fatalistic and do you ever think you have been dealt a bad hand?
No, I am not fatalistic. I don’t think about the hand I have been dealt. That’s a weak perspective. If you are expecting life to be fair that’s like saying the tiger should not eat me because I am a vegetarian. Life is not supposed to be fair. A rollercoaster is not supposed to be smooth. It’s supposed to be dangerous and give you a thrill, and scare you and make you want to scream your lungs out. That’s why you are on it. The question is, do you want to be an adventurer and explorer, or do you want to sit in the corner and not have any fun and lick your wounds. That’s not life.
From Bang Bang you move on to a completely different genre with Ashutosh Gowariker’s period drama, Mohenjo-Daro.?
Yes, it’s the other extreme, but I still have to get into that to understand how much I need to do to get into that character. Right now I am concentrating on ensuring that Bang Bang is a good and well-packaged film. The advantage of choosing such different genres is that by default I switch off from one and switch on to the other. Variety is very important in life. If you don’t get it from your life, you will try and find it in some other part of your life — so you may as well find it in your work.
After heartbreak and a tough personal time, people tend to shut themselves off and raise their defenses. Did this happen to you?
It is at that precipice that you decide what kind of man do you want to be. Do you succumb or do you go on and see what happens? Trust the universe, the higher power and life, but you have to take 100 per cent responsibility for your environment, no matter where you are or whatever situation you are in. The steering wheel has to be in your hand. Never hand over the steering wheel, man. You take responsibility for your action and pain. You own everything. You don’t blame and you don’t assign power to anybody else to cause you pain. It’s painful but it’s your pain. So take that steering wheel and manoeuvre yourself to the place where you want to be. Control the fact that you will take chances and do everything you don’t feel like doing. Make the change and create the environment you want in your life. It’s up to you.
I am a people’s person. I like to be around people and see how I can contribute to their journey. I also want to be able to inspire and stimulate the minds of my children. I am a food-o-holic. For me, food is a reward. After a hard day’s work, if I want to reward myself, I eat like a pig. But I don’t cook; I’d like to cook though
■ I grew my maximum with Kaho Na Pyar Hai (2000). It was my first film and I had no idea what I was going to be like in front of the camera. I was inventing and discovering myself
■ With Koi Mil Gaya (2003), I understood the flight of an actor for the first time
■ Thanks to Farhan (Akhtar), with Lakshya (2004), I learnt what it meant to be completely unaware of the camera. It was also my first sync sound film, which was terrifying
■ Dhoom 2 (2006) showed a side to me that I didn’t know I had, so there was a massive growth spurt into that sexy, suave, charming character that I had never done and never knew I could do
■ Bang Bang (2014) because I discovered exactly who I am through this film — the real me is out there now. Watch out
— Udita Jhunjhunwala