The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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ĎMy parents are too coolí

Q: Knowing how choosy you are, why are you suddenly in five films'

Itís not a question of being choosy. Itís about finding roles that excite me. Iíve always maintained that Iíll do any project I like. It just so happens that I liked all the five scripts. Thereís so much work happening in our film industry. Just how much of that work is worth doing depends entirely on the individual actor. I was offered stuff that I found terribly exciting. I want to work. Itís the only thing that keeps me happy. Whatever films I did I did happily. Iíve never been so productive before.

Q: What are you doing in a comedy called Shaadi Se Pehle with Mallika Sherawat'

Why not' I think Mallika is much misunderstood. Iím not saying her image is entirely misleading. Thereís never any fire without smoke. But just because she has done two or three films in the past of a particular kind, it doesnít follow that everything she will do will be of the same quality. Sheís working with a different set of artistes like Satish Kaushik, Sanjay Chhel, Subhash Ghaiji and me in Shaadi Se Pehle. She wants to move away from her image. And this film is a good starting point. You may have an opinion about her. But she knows what sheís doing on camera.

Q: Letís not talk about Mallika' Youíve done comedy before'

Yes, two. Priyadarshanís Hungama and Hulchul. But I didnít do Shaadi Se Pehle because I needed to do another comedy. Itís not about doing a particular kind of film. Itís about doing what excites me. But I can safely say Shaadi Se Pehle is at least two or three times better than Hulchul and Hungama put together.

Q: In what way'

In terms of the laughter it provides. Itís much funnier and more entertaining. This is in no way a reflection on the director. Itís just the script. Why only Satish Kaushik' Any competent director including Priyan would do a good job of Shaadi Se Pehle. I enjoyed working with the whole team. The actors have all been cast meticulously, keeping the characters in mind. If the casting is done well, a lot of the load is taken off the director. Some of the actors like Anupam Kher, Suniel Shetty I had worked earlier with. The two girls Mallika and Ayesha Takia were new for me.

Q: You just shot with a whole ensemble cast for Dharmesh Darshan in London'

It was unbelievably cold. I think Dharmesh has reached a point in his career when he wants to move with the times, to make something that appeals to young audiences. Not that he has drastically altered his style. Just that the basic treatment is more contemporary than his last few films.

Q: How hard is it to go from Farhan Akhtar to Dharmesh Darshan'

I never had a problem adjusting to different schools of filmmaking. Iíve worked with an eclectic bunch of directors from Anees Bazmi to Farhan Akhtar to Abbas-Mustan to Nikhil Advani.

Q: Nikhilís Salaam-e-Ishq looks very interesting from the outside'

Itís even more interesting from the inside. Itís something never been done before. Itís one of the greatest screenplays that Iíve come across. The film will shock the pants off everybody. Every five years we get four or five films that push the envelope. Salaam-e-Ishq is one of them. I donít know about the other films this year. Rang De Basanti has already done that. But Nikhilís film is definitely a trendsetter.

Q: Whom are you paired with in Salaam-e-Ishq'

Iím with Ayesha Takia again after Shaade Se Pehle. Sheís a wonderful actress. One of those rare natural-born talents like Kajol, Rani or Preity. Look at the talent we have especially among the female actors'Shefali Shah, for whom Ďamazingí is an understatement, sheís electrifying; Kareena, Priyanka. Theyíre looking so good and doing such work. Look at their calibre. Look at Rani in Black!

Q: Have you grown as a person and actor'

I hope so (laughs). Iíve become more relaxed and confident. Even today Iím hugely lacking in self-confidence. Thereís a huge level of satisfaction and turmoil. I guess thatís part of every actorís personality.

Q: Youíve worked with Abbas-Mustan before in Humraaz. How was it in 36 China Town'

Fantastic! Theyíre just so focused on their work. They know exactly what they want and what works. There are very few directors with the success record of Abbas-Mustan. Their film works because they donít touch anything they donít believe in.

Q: Finally, youíre playing Mahatma Gandhiís son Harilal in Feroz Khanís film.

Yes. But Iím not supposed to talk about it at all. I donít question my producer Anil Kapoor. If he says I canít, I canít.

Q: Why the secrecy'

It canít be treated like any Hindi film, immediately dubbing karo, release karo'Weíve done a very complicated two-version film. The post-production work requires a substantial amount of time. All I can say is, itís a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. But a project like this comes to an actor once in his lifetime, if at all. Iím blessed it has come so early in my career.

Q: Not so early in your career'

Eleven years. I couldnít be happier at this point of my career. I couldnít have asked for more. I love every moment of shooting. And I must say that the press has always been fair to me.

Q: Do you have a love life'

Not at the moment. But Iíd like to change that very soon. Marriage' Iím not ready for that at all.

Q: You want to be a footloose actor all your life'

That thought has crossed my mind.

Q: Your mom must be worried.

Not the least. My parents are too cool and liberal. Iím only 30. I started acting when I was only 19. My only goal in life was to be an actor. That I am. I want to keep getting good work.

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