Excerpts from the interview:
Some of your films, especially the ones from 2018-2020, like ‘Cheat India’, ‘Mr X’ and others haven’t created the usual buzz…
I never say I have had flop films. I would say that I have had my share of films which, were not so popular. It would be ludicrous for an actor to expect every film of his/her to work. There is no actor who has had 100 per cent success. I term those films as an experience and I enjoyed every film that I’ve done. Like, ‘Shanghai’ (which didn’t click at the box-office) was one of my most enriching experiences. Besides this, a film has several variables; so, no movie should be judged by its collections.
Are you saying that you will continue to go by your gut and instinct?
This aspect is a bit tricky and continues to remain so. In fact, it’s getting trickier as time progresses. The one thing that I am particular about nowadays is that I don’t come across as repetitive and give something new to the audience.
You are definitely doing something right now. ‘Mumbai Saga’ was a well-edited film and you have ‘Chehre’ coming up with Mr Bachchan, too. But before that, can I ask you what you felt when you first heard that Mahesh Bhatt and Mukesh Bhatt have decided to part ways professionally. You have done many films with both of them together and invested emotionally in Vishesh Films…
I have many fond memories of Vishesh Films. I just wish we all come back together to do a film. I don’t know what the subject will be, though. But to answer your question, well, all good things come to an end. Equations change. Nothing is permanent. And I am saying this without knowing the details of what has played out between them.
As far as I am concerned, I still talk to both of them. Mukeshji wished me before ‘Mumbai Saga’. I am in touch with Mahesh Bhatt.
But were you disappointed when you learnt that they have broken up work-wise?
Yeah of course. I remember the story you are talking about. There was a term used there… (Thinks hard)
The term was ‘Editorial Consultant’. The story broken by ETimes said that Mahesh Bhatt was an Editorial Consultant in Vishesh Films…
But I don’t really know where it’s coming from. We have been quite busy with our own lives during the lockdown but yet kept in touch. We are family. I spoke to Bhatt saab (Mahesh Bhatt) through the lockdown; he is not only just a filmmaker for me but a wise man who has given me guidance. Things were getting confused during the lockdown and I needed his inputs on it.
But why do you, more often than not, seat yourself at the backbench? You are an intense actor but you never play to the gallery. Why ‘Cheat India’?
See, I did ‘Cheat India’ because I wanted to do a film on our education system. It didn’t do well at the box-office is another story. I didn’t play to the gallery even then, where I could have. Then, I did a web show ‘Bard of Blood‘. Did I play to the gallery in that? No. Some people say that it is suicidal not playing to the gallery if you are a commercial actor. Some actors enjoy doing that and I wish them all the best. But I don’t. It’s just that I want to bring the experience of my tryst with good content on the commercial films that I sign. For example, I received very good praise for ‘Mumbai Saga’ which I feel wouldn’t have done well if I hadn’t had the experience of ‘Shanghai’ where, like in “Mumbai Saga’, I’d played a cop, too.
Is the backbench allegory relevant because we don’t see you in the b-town parties? You recently said in an interview that Bollywood is a fake industry, like how you get several messages when your film is round the corner and then suddenly those well-wishers vanish…
Yeah yeah, everybody knows that. Ismein itna bada revelation kya hai? (What’s the big revelation in that?) There is an element of fake-ness in the industry. But I don’t want to sound scary and say that for the entire industry. When my chips were down, there were filmmakers who extended support. You see, the nature of the business is cut-throat, it’s vicious and it’s a tough place to be in. You need to have a lot of guts in your heart to deal with that.
Can you tell in the first meeting itself that a person is fake? First impression is the last impression but, first impression is often a wrong impression…
Exactly… which is why I don’t form judgments instantly. It takes a lot to get to know a person.
How was your experience in ‘Mumbai Saga’ which hit theatres a little before they closed down again?
It’s been wonderful. I always wanted to work with Sanjay Gupta as a director. On the other hand, John Abraham being a very secure actor made the experience only better.