How different are you and your father in Sarkar Raj as compared with Sarkar?
In Sarkar Raj, Pa would be seen with an added slouch. Pa had to be shown aged since the first part of the film. Time has passed and we see it in his performance, and mine. My character has more responsibility on his shoulders. Earlier my character was hungry and lean eager to prove himself. Now I'm a more a confident and successful man.
I believe you've put on weight for the role?
I have. We wanted to show Shankar Nagre as not heavy, but healthier than he was in the first part…as a successful well-settled man. Even my clothes in Sarkar Raj have changed. In Sarkar, I was more casually dressed. In Sarkar Raj, I'm more formally attired in a suit all through.
You know more about sequels than your colleagues?
Sarkar Raj isn't my first sequel. I've also done Dhoom 2. But there's a difference. For Dhoom 2, Aditya Chopra's brief was to take the brand further. He wanted to make the sequel bigger and better. Otherwise, he reasoned, why would they come to see it? Sarkar Raj on the other hand, moved the other way. It's not a candyfloss entertainer. We had to be true to the original characters. The characters moved in a specific direction from the first part to the second. So there has to be a lot of intensity in the presentation. In Sarkar Raj, we couldn't afford the liberties that we could in Dhoom 2.
Experimenting with body language and weight are now a part of your acting grammar. I guess today, an actor has to work hard to be noticed. So does the director. In Sarkar Raj, it's not just my character's weight that has changed. The house the characters live in has become more plush.
This time you take centre stage in the drama?
I disagree. Sarkar is Subhash Nagre which is dad's character. But now Shankar is running the family business. But his father is still the head of the family. So we're in it together."
But you and Aishwarya are not a couple in Sarkar Raj?
Does that matter to the audience? Once the lights go down in the theatre the audience becomes one with the characters. If they don't it's my failing as an actor. They will be swept away with the characters. Whether we're married or a couple in the film is of no consequence. I think such cheap publicity gimmicks don't work. And yes we haven't tried to hide the fact that we aren't a couple in the film. No point in lying to the audience. In fact, there's no relationship between Aishwarya and me in Sarkar Raj. And that should be no problem. Just because we're husband and wife doesn't mean we should play the same roles in all our films.
But what about the strong media -created image of you as a couple?
No, I'm convinced the audience isn't going to take that factor into consideration. My father and I do play father and son in Sarkar Raj. But we weren't related at all in Bunty Aur Babli. In fact, he was hunting me down throughout the film. And yet it was a resounding success.
How much have you evolved as an actor since Sarkar?
I'd like to think my character has evolved since the first part and that I've evolved accordingly. But like I said, Jai Dixit could change his looks and clothes from Dhoom to Dhoom 2. I don't think it'd look believable to see me in a t-shirt, jeans and clean-shaven in Sarkar Raj. As for myself, without sounding arrogant I'd like to say I think I've evolved as an actor. I'm still learning and I'll be learning till the day I'm an actor. Look at my father at 65. He continues to evolve. In comparison to him there's a long way to go. I'd like to believe I'm evolving.