For the last year, he has been hiding behind a wall of silence (or indifference) but today, he's looking at the positive side of things. He has signed Karan Johar's next production, Mission Istanbul is almost complete and a "big film" is in the pipeline. Here, in a heart-to-heart, the actor clears the air. Read on...
Recently there was a rumour of you flirting with your dinner host's gal and getting slapped. Comment.
Someday if I ever write a book on The Craziest Rumours That I Have Heard About Myself this would be No 173. Jokes aside, it's absolutely untrue. The story was upsetting as it made me out to be a sleazeball. I have tremendous respect for women. Anybody who knows me can vouch for that. My mother (Yashodhara) - is my hero. I would never do anything that would make her ashamed of me.
It wasn't you?
I heard it was about some other actor but whoever the actor might have been, if he did what he did, he deserved to get slapped. Alcohol or no alcohol there is no excuse for misbehaving with a girl.
You've had link-ups with women ever since your break-up with Aishwarya...
Well, I hope so. After all, I am a normal, single man (laughs) When I was in both my serious relationships (Gurpreet Gill and Aishwarya Bachchan) I was very committed. But now that I am single, I am allowed to date, ain't I? I enjoy the company of women but I don't misbehave with them. Without meaning to sound arrogant I think I am decent looking and charming enough to have female attention.
Your apology to Salman has been called a gimmick...
I was on a high after the success of Shootout At Lokhandwala so I didn't need to indulge in such stunts. It wasn't out of necessity that I did it (apologised to Salman.) I felt that it was the right thing to do. It would be cowardly to publicly accuse someone, then privately say 'hey I am sorry.'
I wanted to crush that little ego that was lurking inside me. If I am wrong, I am wrong and I let the world know that. That gives me strength. It's unfair to call it a publicity stunt. Anything I do is taken as contrived. I am being constantly attacked. I can't spend my life clarifying every rumour. It's a bhed chaal, 'let's get out and get this guy'.
Maybe because you did charity and spoke about it too ofte...
I have decided that even though I am the brand ambassador of many causes, I won't speak about them, as I don't want the causes to suffer. I get bashed for everything I do. I have been fortunate to do God's work in many ways and thought that by speaking about it, I would get more people involved, which did happen.
But then it backfired - if I built houses for the tsunami victims, people said I did it for publicity; when I sponsored children for heart surgery, they said I did it for publicity! Dudes, life is a lot more than that!
You also got bashed for attending Teji Bachchan's funeral. Was it wise, given your history with Ash?
It was sad and in bad taste that it was made out to be such a media story. The Bachchans are such a dignified family and she (Teji) was such a dignified lady. Abhishek and I share a warm relationship, and we have respect for each other. We have worked and hung out together.
I am really fond of him and I am sure he is of me too. Apart from being my colleague and a part of the fraternity I was also informed about it (Teji's funeral). Apu (Apoorva Lakhia) is also a common link and they were aware that I was coming. I went there (Teji Bachchan"s funeral), paid my respects and the gesture was reciprocated.
This is what we do in our industry. In the past, as a part of the film industry, I might have been the bad son but I have mended my ways. I believe it's a fraternity and family and I am doing everything that I can to set things right and that"s why I share good relations with people today.
After Kaal, you are working for another Karan Johar production.
Yes. Karan's not only one of the biggest producers we have in the industry, but also creatively one of the finest and best directors to work with. Karan and I are friends aside from being professionals and he's always advising me on clothes, fashion, looks, styling etc.
I have been conscious about my looks only recently. I had this phase when I didn't really care how I looked. Friends like Karan have made me aware. Now I feel good about myself. It feels good to be in great shape, to look good and dress up. Karan's a big part of that. He's my fashion godfather.
Are you trying to get close to SRK via Karan?
Work is work, and relationships are relationships. The reason that I am doing Karan's film is because Rensil's script is fantastic. If my sole objective were to get close to Shahrukh, which is silly as I already share a certain degree of closeness with him, then I would have done Om Shanti Om, which was his film.
Shahrukh (or God, as I fondly call him from the time we did Saathiya) and I have always shared a lovely relationship. Shahrukh and Gauri have always welcomed me to their home and have been there for me. I love partying with them and it's a great equation we share. I will attend Shahrukh's IPL match in Kolkata on April 20 to cheer Shahrukh and his Kolkata Knight Riders.
It was said that Sanjay Dutt was upset with you because you tried to flirt with his wife Manayata.
These were unfortunate, baseless and untrue rumours. That's not my upbringing. I have too much love, respect and awe for Sanju sir. He's too gracious and large-hearted to believe such rubbish. It's the people in between who try to feel important by creating mischief.
You have completely disassociated yourself from everyone in the industry. Why?
I decided to retreat behind silence because whatever I did, or didn't do, I was attacked. I am happy to be working with people who are like family to me. I have developed these amazing relationships with many people from my fraternity who have begun to see who I really am.
I have gone through this entire evolution and I share a fantastic rapport with many people now. I feel now that I have had enough, people have had enough, so they just let me be. I am putting my head down and working hard.
Did you chicken out of doing stunts for Mission Istanbul?
It's the opposite. Action director Allan Amin nicknamed me Tiger ever since I shot the first action sequence for Company in Kenya. He asked me to jump from one building to another with a road in between - no cable, safety net or box - and even before he could set it up, I had leapt across.
He told me I am a tiger who needs to be kept in control. Now only when safety's ready does Allan allow me to do stunts. I am an adrenaline junkie. They have to curb me.
Apparently, your dad hiked your fees from Rs 75 lakhs to Rs 3.5 crore for Loot, upsetting producer Sunil Shetty.
It's a ridiculous rumour. My father doesn't even talk money or negotiate anything. It's unfair to drag him into this. I have a fantastic relationship with Anna, and he has too much respect for my father.
I have a company, Serge Entertainment, which takes care of my contracts and fees. Dad does nothing but play golf. After 30 years of working so hard in this industry and acting in over 300 films dad deserves to live like a king, play golf and enjoy what he does.
Do you feel that there's a certain section working against you?
Isn't it obvious? It's not just about a section, but a trend. All I am saying is give me a chance - what have I done so bad and drastic that people come after me all the time? I feel hurt and upset that I am being misrepresented all the time.
I am human. I live with people who love me. I have friends and family who read things about me and feel hurt. When I come back home to find my mom and sister upset, I get upset and unhappy.
I was 24 when I came to this industry. I saw more fame, stardom and money in six months than most people had seen in their lifetime. I had it all in six short months and I made a few mistakes.
But it was one big mistake (referring to the Salman Khan press con) that I made at 26 that turned my life upside- down. I am still paying for that...
Why did you do it?
I was crazily in love and didn't think everything out. I made a mistake. I publicly and privately apologised for it because I thought if I have insulted someone publicly at a press conference then I should publicly apologise for it. If this makes me a bigger person, teaches me a lesson in humility and reduces my bad karma. I believe in karma and that I more than paid for it.