You recorded with the legendary Ilayaraja recently?
Yes I was in his divine presence for just a few moments.
Another birthday recently went by….
Yes it was just another day another year. I am grateful and feel blessed that it means something special for those around me. The Almighty and the prayers of my loved ones and those of the millions that have supported me are to be thanked. It is because of them that I breathe and exist
67 and still going super-strong... Would you say that's a good signature tune for you?
I do not know if I am still going strong, but yes I am alive and I exist. I have never wished for any signature or tune or any fancy recognition or accolade. I am grateful for the jobs that I get and am thankful that I am given opportunity for work.
How do you assess the year that has zipped by?
I really have no recollection of what went by. I know what I am doing now. Age does have this adverse effect on one and I am no different from any other. It may seem power packed for you but for me it is just another day, another job. I endeavor to do what is assigned to me to the best of my ability.
What according to you were the most significant occurrences in your life this year?
That I am still alive!
Significantly you took two months off to be with your friend Amar Singh in Singapore. How rejuvenating and introspective did that time-off prove to be?
Yes I was with Amar Singh ji during the time he was in Singapore under treatment. I was aware that he would be going for treatment and I was aware about the amount of time he would require to recover, so I had planned all my work in a manner where I could be free to be by his side. I finished all my pending work by June and did not take up any assignments after. When his condition had improved I accepted the Colors offer for BB3. I was in Singapore not to rejuvenate or to introspect, I was there for a friend, a member of my family while he recouped. My time there was spent being with him and monitoring his progress.
You seem to be taking time off from your movie assignments at the moment. What are your plans regarding more offers? Is it true you've decided to do only one film per year?
Because I was uncertain of how long Amar Singh ji would take to recover I did not accept any offers for film. I did not want to commit on a project the timings of which I may not have been able to adhere to. Yes, I do wish to do films and yes there are interesting offers, which I shall consider. And no it shall not be one film a year. I am not that big or important to make such decisions. It is a wonder that I am getting any offers at all.
You are back on television after creating history in KBC. How do the home medium and this new experience with Bigg Boss feel?
The experience of Bigg Boss 3 has just begun. I have been with it for too short a time to be able to completely describe its experience. But yes it is different from KBC and it gets more intricate as we move along. All I can say for the moment is that it has been a hugely exciting revelation for me. The medium and those that are attached to it work diligently round the clock and it is a marvel to see the amount of thinking and labor that goes on behind the scenes to create something like Bigg Boss. I am most impressed with that. The co-ordination and the management need all the praise there is for their unfailing effort and commitment. I am merely a tool that follows instructions, but what goes on beyond me is what needs to be recognized and appreciated.
How comfortable are you interacting with the Bigg Boss 3 housemates?
It is good. You would need to ask the channel or the house mates what they felt. I just feel very saddened when I have to announce the person who has been voted out by public and in house processes and then later to spend time with them after their eviction. It"s much like what I used to feel when on KBC I had to inform the participant that his answer was wrong.
You've another release Paa lined up. Would you say Paa and the earlier Aladin are challenging roles?
Yes both have been very challenging. Both have been very demanding physically. At my age it gets tough.
Paa offered you a unique chance to play a child. Did you relive your childhood through this part?
Not so much my childhood, but the childhood of my children and my grandchildren. A lot of my interpretation has been picked up from what I remember of Abhishek when he was that age and from my grandchildren now as I see them grow.
Your thoughts on self and the world around?
I wish, much like all else for there to be peace and harmony. For humans to understand that we are all one and that we all have common characteristics. To understand that all faiths need to be respected, for none of them are different in their beliefs. That we are one nation, united by our independence and our sovereignty. That this world we live in belongs to all of us and we need to protect it for its survival. That a kind word and a smile never did harm anyone. That a fragrant flower decorates our lives more than the vicious odour of hate.