The 20-something chicks are screaming for you after Dhoom 2.
I've noticed. The response has been pretty aggressive. The roars and shrieks and the handshakes are all a compliment my work. I don't let them inflate my ego.
A new phase has begun in your career with Krissh and Dhoom 2
You think so? I've never had such responses before. I'm getting all kinds of feedback from every quarter. I believe Dhoom 2 is even bigger than Krissh. All of us are ecstatic. Uday and I've been together since Standard 2 in school. We feel we're back in school and won a competition together. Abhishek, Uday and I constantly calling each other for feedback. Thank God our childhood friendship never got lost in adult ambitions.
You've the whole nation by their vitals.
Ha ! That's funny. I take that as an impetus and motivation to go to another level as an actor. I don't let it tamper with my sense of self. I won't think about things that hamper my growth. I'd rather not think of myself as invincible. I'd rather think about the next challenge which is Jodha-Akbar. Anything beyond that would be detrimental to my dreams as an actor. An actor's downfall begins when he begins to take the adulation too seriously.
Ashutosh Gowariker describes Dhoom 2 as a show-reel for your abilities. Flattering thought?
He was being generous to an actor he loves so much. But I don't think show-reels work as movies. Even if Dhoom 2 is a fantasy caper there's a thought plot and emotion behind it, though it might not be immediately apparent. A show-reel for my abilities? No way!
What about all those exotic sports and stunts?
Agreed, they're an attraction. But I think what worked for my character is that I played a cool guy for the first time. I did play one in the second-half of Kaho Na...Pyar Hai. But that's it. Otherwise I was relegated to playing goody two-shoes...you know, the consummate do-gooder with a sweet smile on his face.
I still think your best performance to date is in Arjun Sablok's Na Tum Jano Na Hum.
You keep saying that. I need to look at that film again.
How does it feel to have finally got there right at the top?
Great! But it's futile to do mental gymnastics about my box-office position. These are numbers meant to only inflate your ego. I'm enjoying it, yes. It's very important for me to understand that people are only trying to make me happy by calling me Rock Star and No.1, or whatever.
But there's a growing feeling that you are No.1.
I'd rather not waste my time thinking about this. I've done good work and Dhoom 2 worked. What made it work was that all of us in the film were on the same side. All of us-Abhishek, Ash, Uday, Bipasha and I-were trying to make the same film. That's why we had such a happy ending.
Would you say your superstardom was somewhat stymied by the spate of setback after Kaho Na...Pyar Hai?
No. I think what happened with my career was for the best. I got to see the high and the low very early in my career. It gave me a clear and balanced perspective on how to go about my career. I also learnt not to take labels like superstar seriously. It's very easy to start believing in the persona that's created for you in the media. Once that happens, you are finished.
Did the exuberant welcome and then the snide comments about being your dad's resident hero after Kaho Na...Pyar Hai caution you?
No, it completely freed me from people's expectations. I started doing things that came from my my heart. I chose the path that came naturally to me. Doing my best for all my roles is my only option. If during the low phase I had tried to live up the labels that were given to my after my debut I'd have never done a Koi...Mil Gaya where I played a mentally challenged character. I'd have been too conscious of cultivating an image to try so non-sexy and unheroic. For all practical purposes it was a wrong career move. Being an actor is all about exploring all the personalities that come your way.
It's about trying to be people who you are not?
Not really. I think every character I played in Dhoom 2 or Yaadein or Na tum Jano Na Hum, had a bit of me. If I don't connect with the character through my performances I'd end up hamming. Some unexplored maybe -unknown side of your personality goes into every character. I've a bit of Rohit and Aryan in me. And yet they're new people to me.
I believe women find you sexy after Dhoom 2
After the nerd and the innocent Koi...Mil Gaya and Krissh it's very re-assuring to know I'm capable of jumping from one end of the image-spectrum to another. As an actor it's very satisfying.
People feel you've never looked better.
The entire credit for that should be given to the stylist Anaida who took charge of the film's look. I can't even begin to take credit for my look. Right from the conception stage Anaida led me into the look.
It's believed that good-looking people don't make great actors.
I completely disagree with that. In fact I believe good looks are about extraordinary acting. If you're a good actor you're bound to look good. It's the strength, confidence and composure that lend character and good looks to an actor. All these qualities make you sexy.
But a lot of ordinary-looking actors are great actors.
The fact that they're considered great actors makes them good looking. An actor may not be into gyming and slimming. He still has all the women lusting after him. How do you explain that? There's secret ingredient which you exude and radiate as an actor. That's the quality that makes you sexy.