Correct me if I'm wrong, but the film is called New York. Then why were you shooting it in Philadelphia?
Because the topography is similar. A lot of films located in New York are actually shot in Philadelphia. I was shooting for three long months and if it wasn't for my parents, brother and sister-in-law and Bipasha visiting, I'd have gone crazy. When they all came to see me, I stopped feeling homesick. I was away for so long, sometimes when I woke up, I forgot where I was. Before Philadelphia I was in Miami shooting for Dostana for three months.
I love Phili. The hotel had become a home. Now I go to Boston for Abbas Tyrewala's film where star with Abbas' wife Pakhi. She's perfect for the part.
When I'm away, what I miss most is the ghar ka khana. My parents had come over. But I wouldn't let my mom cook here. No way. I pampered her. Looked after her like a little baby. That's what one is supposed to do with one's parents especially when they get old, no? They need clean healthy air. I think I'll take them to Boston too. Dad is an architect so he loves to check out the buildings and architecture. But before Boston, I come back to Mumbai to do a film called Hook Ya Crook with David Dhawan written by Rensil D'Silva. It's not a typical David Dhawan comedy. We're both excited like two children.
You're a good son.
I'd really want to believe I'm a good son.
How was the shooting in Philadelphia?
Gruelling but very satisfying. I shot the most emotionally and physically exhausting scenes of my life. Frankly, I haven't done an action film since Dhoom. It's a genre I really enjoy. This film New York that I'm doing has very effective action. I not only had a lot of running around to do. But I enjoyed myself. At this point of my career I just want to push myself beyond the limits.
By wearing the briefest of briefs and giving an interview on why you wore it?
Oh that was an endorsement for Dostana. And besides I'm never ashamed of talking about my body. Though at times I do feel like a meat shop.
So why go on and on about your body?
I am proud of my physique. But I feel I'm also good with emotions. In fact I perform the best when I'm unhappy. I function best when in angst.
New York is your second film with Kabir Khan?
I loved doing Kabul Express with Kabir. I loved shooting in Afghanistan right in the midst of Taliban. Now I'd love to shoot in Iraq. I'm a sucker for pain and agony. I'd love to shoot in Iran. My grandfather was from Iran. My mother's cousins are in Iran.
You collaborate well with your directors these days?
Yes, I'm equally at home with someone as commercial as David Dhawan and as niche as Nagesh Kukunoor. I believe as much in my directors as they believe in me. You may be right when you say I was the outsider when I did Dostana with Karan Johar. But it took me no time to settle in. Karan is a fair person. As for Abhishek, he's no co-star or colleague. He's a friend. I dote on him. I love him to death. We never compete. We complement each other in Dostana. We share a great chemistry. Abhishek and I are a couple in the film.
Yes, so we've been told. Let me ask you a 'straight' question. Do you think Indian audiences are ready for gay jokes?
I'll give you a 'straight' answer. People laughed at the Kantaben track in Kal Ho Naa Ho. It was very essential for us in Dostana to not take advantage of a certain sensibility and project that as a caricutural as a joke. We've succeeded in doing that in Dostana.
Happy to be a gay icon?
I've been told that. And I accept it very graciously. But women have reacted as strongly to me in Dostana as men. Some have reacted to the sensuality others to the fitness. But everyone has a query about my body. Sometime I feel I belong to a meat shop. I really am not comfortable talking constantly about my anatomy. Very often I don't know how to react. Initially it was fun to be regarded as a body-beautiful. I wonder how audiences will react to my physicality in my next release Aashayein where I've lost 30 pounds.
No stripping in that?
None whatsoever. Not that I believe that if you show your body you can't act properly. I really like fielding questions on food, diet and other cliches on health. I always advise people to be clean in body, mind and environment.
Neil Nitin Mukesh who's shooting with you in Philadelphia has great respect for you?
He's like my younger brother. I love him for the fact that he dotes on his parents. He's a wonderful kid with a great future. He's simple and clean. We spend a lot of time together.
Out there you've no choice.
You have a point.
Deepa Mehta's Luna with Rachel Weisz is off.
So I got to know from your article. Deepa and I haven't spoken about it. As for Kamagatamaru I'd still be willing to play the other lead because it's as important as Akshay Kumar's role. It's always a pleasure working with Akshay. I'm very happy for him. He's a very positive person. We get along beautifully.
Why the delay in the release of Aashayein?
I think some negotiations are going on. Percept has now decided to release it around December. Aashayein is a beautiful film and Nagesh is a great storyteller.
What else have you signed?
Only Abbas Tyrewala's film. Beyond that I haven't really opened my accounts book, I'm happy doing films I'm completely convinced about. I'd love to work with Anurag Kashyap again. I can talk to him for hours. Like me, he's happy doing his own thing. I'm an off-roader while other actors are on the highway.
Do you miss home when you're away?
I miss the people though not the city. I'm happy wherever I am as long as my work goes well. But I like to be in Mumbai, though not in the rains. I believe Mumbai should have rains. But we don't know how to cope with it. We don't have a civic sense. We Mumbaikars have it in us to be an international city. When I travel abroad I wonder why we can't be like the other big cities of the world.