To what extent are you disheartened with the failure of Hat Trick?
I do not let the success or for that matter failure of any film in which I act affect me in any way. I am cool whether it clicks or not! Films are not the be all and end all of my life. Though I was hopeful about Hat Trick at the box office, I was disappointed.
Why did you accept the role in the first place?
The role that I played in Milan Luthria's Hat Trick was quite different from whatever role I had done earlier in my career spanning around 35 years. It was the fictitious character of an ex cricketer David Ibrahim, better known as Chinaman, a left hand spinner of balls. How I landed with this character makes interesting reading. Two years ago, I had decided that I would not accept a film, which is not better than what I had done earlier. I was actually negotiating with UTV for Vivek Agnihotri's Goal, when all of a sudden unfortunately, Naseer's son Imam met with an accident and Naseer could not do the role in Hat Trick and I was asked to fill in his place in Hat Trick.
What attracted you about your role in Hat Trick?
The role I played in Hat Trick did not have five pages of flowery dialogues and was not melodramatic. In fact, the character did not have any external support at all. It did not need me to sport a get- up. It did not need me to have chamchas in the background, with bows and ties. I had to play a patient suffering from dialysis and waiting for a donor for his kidney transplant. I had to just flow with the character, which was very positive.
How was the experience of working with Nana Patekar as a co-star?
I have worked with Nana in two films earlier. One of them was Krantiveer and the other one was Kohraa with Nana and Amitabh Bachchan. We know each other pretty well. In fact, Nana is one of my favorite actors. He makes it a point to do issue-based films. What I like about him is that he does not do too many films for the sake of money. I remember having watched Wajood and told him that it was one of his best performances, though the film had flopped.
What difference do you find as far as films then and now are concerned?
I came in an era when action was reigning. I had acted in many stupid films. I used to fight with producers and directors over the script. I am glad the new generation is looking at scripts. Whether the films succeed or not is different. Abroad the biggest hits have been Spiderman, Batman and Super Man. Here too while Do Bheega Zameen, Ankur, Jaagte Raho and Aakrosh did zero business, films with grandeur like Mughal-E-Azam and Mother India were big hits. Mehboob Khan and Bimal Roy made great films with the kind of budget, which Manmohan Desai used to spend on publicity alone for his films. Films like Lagaan, Rang De Basanti and Munnabhai MBBS ran, though generally it is only stupid films that do good business at the box office.
Why do you choose your films with caution?
You just are fed up after acting for 35 years. I do not agree to do a film if it does not give me satisfaction. My friends feel that iska dimaag kharab ho gaya. I would rather go to the mountain and sit in a cave than saddle myself with stupid films I keep myself busy by carving wood. It is my favorite baby. I keep it with myself or present it to my friends. I play golf or go for a swim. When I was young, I used to play football and not cricket, though in Hat Trick, I played an ex cricketer.
Is it true that you sell alcohol to earn your livelihood?
Today I do not have to act to earn my livelihood. I can afford to be choosy. I have two breweries in Sikkim. I am planning to start one in Assam too. Even this has become monotonous because you do not really get satisfaction at the end of the day. It is just an illusion that name, fame and money fetch you happiness. Those pleasures are gone when I used to enjoy more at one time when I was just dreaming of making money so that I could eat at Khyber or buy a bottle of scotch whiskey.