I don’t open the door in the nude…
…and the building aunties are not knocking down my door
Rumour has it that you answer the front door in full monty and so have all the aunties of your building ringing your doorbell all the time…
(long pause) That’s absolutely not true, in fact I hardly ever open the door myself. . The aunties are imagining things. And no, I don’t get accosted in lifts either. Sometimes female and men too approach me to get a picture clicked. Yes sometimes it does become a groupie situation. I don’t really understand how I have picked up a sex quotient because I am the same person but that has more to do with the roles I have done I think. On the other hand people also perceive me as a khaddus type of person, unpredictable and that keeps people a bit in check.
A Bhatt film, while it guarantees success also has some sleaze attached to it. How do you reconcile this with your oft-said search for good work?
That won’t be a problem at all. My first film with them was Jannat 2 and in that my character had a deep love story except his wife was dead. So that film had an emotion quotient. In Jism 2, though the sex quotient is high my job is to be the flag bearer of the emotion quotient, so that’s ok too. I wouldn’t say Bhatt films have sleaze, I would say they are sexual and sensual and in my case they are sensual. In every film I have done its not about f******. If you are in the middle of an emotional encounter with another person within a relationship and from that springs the physical connect, it isn’t sleaze at all.
How would you differentiate between sexual and sensual?
Sensuality has to do more with feelings and sexuality is more about the act and attitude.
Do you see yourself being the next Emraan Hashmi in the sense that an actor makes his reputation in Bhatt films and then moves on to doing serious films like he did the turnaround with Shanghai?
No, because I have come from the Shanghais to the Jannats and Jisms and Murders and he went from them to Shanghai. I have done many independent movies. I like Emraan Hashmi, he’s a very nice guy, but because I come from a different school my desires and aspirations from cinema are different. Even when I am doing brand movies I approach them differently because I am a different artiste and person.
Which would you call your ‘Shanghai’ films?
Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster, Risk, D, Mere Khwabon Mein Jo Aaye, Once Upon A Time In Mumbai. I don’t look at the Bhatt films as this or that kind of movie, I like the people I am working with, they give me a lot of love and respect, and an artiste needs these two things most.
Rumour says you were offered the part of a gigolo in a Hollywood film but you refused it?
No, I have never been offered a role of a gigolo in a Hollywood film. I have been offered films in Hollywood but the roles weren’t so great. If a good role came my way I would do it.
If a woman propositioned you what would your reaction be?
I have been propositioned many times and like any man I have definitely not been put off by it. It’s very flattering. I have responded depending on who the woman is and what situation I am in my life.
What do you think of casual sex?
It’s fun while it lasts but can never be a substitute for a deeper relationship. It’s more of a game and release than a celebration of anything.
How far would you go for a relationship?
You never know till you come to it but so far I have always been upto all demands made of me.
Within all this where does your current relationship fit in?
I don’t want to talk about it because it’s taken me a lot of time to be talked about for my work and I want to keep it that way.
Why has success eluded you so far?
My choices, my idealism. When I did D and I was being talked about I thought, what the fuck, what do I do next. I have just played this gangster that every young boy imagines himself to be. I thought everything else was below that so I refused a lot of roles and my choices were not right. They were not career making choices. I’m wiser and of course older but my childlikeness is quite intact.
In this new phase of work that you are experiencing what would you say you have gained or lost?
I have lost some leisure time which I love. I enjoy lazing around doing nothing or going riding. It is during this leisure time that the whole process of my work actually happens and I miss that. I am constantly being pulled in all directions. My lack of time management skills and lack of ability to juggle different thing at one time have been exposed. I have learnt all these things that I should now rectify. And yes, I don’t want to lose this momentum because I know the pain of having lost it once.
Success has gone to your head, you don’t take calls…
My problem is I have more shooting dates than actual days and I also have to dub and promote films. It’s not anyone’s fault that I don’t have time except mine because I had commitments and yet took up these two big films Jism 2 and Murder 3 which had their own timelines and which I have fitted into my calendar. These are marquee, brand films which I couldn’t let go and so, despite my attempts to adjust I am still 20 days short. Hopefully by the end of the year I will be sorted. I can do the meetings with whoever wants me to but what of my immediate work today? I am absolutely certain, what I have to execute today is my priority. It’s only if I do this well that I can continue to expect the knocks on my door. Everything else, publicity, endorsements and what have you come second to my job as an actor today.
many moons have waxed and waned and eclipsed since i was last on wordpress but now am back and hope to be here regularly.
much has changed in life.
times of india has claimed me as its own once again and thats just one of the changes.
a long trip to several first world cities, toronto, vancouver, birmingham, manchester, london,abu dhabi, dubai has left me very irritated with the complete lack of civic sense and civic pride i see in mumbai. it always existed i know but its only when you compare, that it really strikes you, the conditions we live in.
as producer of sohaila’s masti filled retro play ‘mahim junction’ i look back with pride at the response we got at the above mentioned cities including the couple of standing ovations.
bollywood, as always, rules. pics are available on facebook page of mahim junction. do look and tell me what you think.
i chanced upon what i think was the first episode of x factor last night. auditions were on and as i saw it some thoughts struck me…
- its amazing what fools some people will make of themselves just for the chance to come on tv.
- having said that, its equally amazing to see what talent india is hiding in the hinterland of tier 2 and tier 3 cities and how many talented housewives, who have probably only sung for their families before, have not let the grunge and drudgery of housework deflect their ambition to sing for the nation someday.
- auditions are far more interesting than the actual shows as the strangest of characters show up to do their thing. that their thing is complete crap or most awfully funny because it is so awful is beside the point. those that are chosen are obviously the pick of the bunch and only get better so no quirks and foibles, which makes for such absorbing watching, are likely to be on display.
- shreya ghoshal is one of those singers (she is a judge) who should perhaps be heard more and seen less. for some strange reason she is expected to up the glam factor and is given these backless, off shoulder clingy dresses that don’t at all suit her. then there is the fact that she is expected to speak in english (isn’t this a hindi show?) a language that seems foreign to her.
- sanjay leela bhansali (another judge) never one to tolerate fools, seems very uncomfortable.
- the star of the show is going to be sonu nigam. he has just the right sort of involvement needed by a judge, lets down the bad singers very gently and provides enough entertainment by himself to keep the viewer engaged.
i have a confession to make… something every boss i have ever worked with knows very well.
i am very restless unless i have a vacation to look forward to. it could be anything, a weekend in pune, an extended weekend in mahabaleshwar, a long trip to london, anything.
it could be the next day, next month or even a few months down the line, but i absolutely have to have something planned.
one of my exbosses put this down to the need to run away from whatever my demons are. maybe. i have come to think this could be true.
having said that this could also be because i have the constant need to begin anew. i hate stagnation and when i have been in a job long enough to have conquered it i just have to look for something i havent done before. luckily, the journalistic world offers many such opportunities because the media world is so diverse and there is so much to experiment with.
this could also be because i have a short attention span and an ever shorter short-term memory. what was that again?
its amazing. i meet so many newcomers on a daily basis, some rank outsiders, some connected peripherally, some heir to the throne and while one would think it was the latter lot that were most likely to succeed, it isn’t always so. thankfully, the x factor can’t be inherited.
many many years ago, when i still worked with filmfare and therefore played a large part in deciding who performed at the awards function, i introduced my colleagues (all much senior, with decades of experience between them) to this very earnest actor-to-be who danced like a dream. there was fire in his belly but more important there was eagerness in his eyes and x in his body language.
this was govinda, who just wanted one chance to prove himself. he was doing a film with khushboo for his uncle anand and there was a krishna song in it that had all the elements of becoming a crowd pleaser. luckily for him, my seniors had some faith in me and promised to give him a chance.
even then he would be late for every rehearsal and on the day of the function did not turn up at all for the full dress rehearsal in the morning. khushboo, his long suffering partner struggled through the duet all by herself. not surprisingly the committee wanted to cancel the item.
that afternoon govinda dropped in with explanations, apologies and promises to be on time in the evening. my seniors almost told me that i was bartering my job with his performance but i honestly liked the kid and didnt want to disappoint him.
that evening govinda wowed the elite of the film industry with his charm, his talent and his presence. the x factor in him was visible to everyone who saw him perform that day. i lay no claim to his success but the fact is that within a month he had signed more than 30 films. this was to ultimately lead to a lot of grief but more on that later. this is about the x factor he had and continues to have if only he would let his life get back on track.
less than a week ago i met another young actor, rana daggubati. rana is the grandson of veteran producer d rama naidu and nephew of telugu superstar venkatesh. his beginning is radically different from that of govinda. he has intense, intelligent eyes in contrast to govinda’s that were always twinkling with fun even when he was being scolded and was trying to look sheepish and apologetic. but what they both share, in spades, is the x factor.
this story dates back to when prateeksha was the definitive bachchan residence when amitabh was the numero uno star quietly building up to the legend he now is.
i had gone to meet him for an interview and, as is typical of his graciousness, he was coming to the gate to see me off. as we were walking toward the gate he casually asked me how i was travelling and i told him i would be taking a rickshaw home.
all those familiar with the prateeksha gates would know that it is possible to open a smaller one for people entering and exiting, and a bigger one for vehicles. in normal circumstances he would have seen me off to the inside of the smaller gate and that would have been that.
but as it happened, as we were walking up to the gates, the bigger gate opened to let a car in and an empty rickshaw could be seen passing by.
it must have been sheer reflex on amitabh’s part that on seeing the rick passing by he hailed it in his very well known baritone. the driver, obviously not believing his ears pulled up with a screech and stared speechlessly as amitabh saw me into it and suggested to the driver that he might want to get moving to drop me.
it is what followed that makes this story my favourite. as he started his rick the driver turned to me and asked blithely… amitabhji nahin ayyenge? what could i say… that i was the only passenger and no amitabhji would not be accompanying me.
there is a ps to this story. the driver refused to take any money from me because i had been responsible for his idol hailing him.
i am somewhat mystified by this new genre that is opening up in the film world. the one that is obviously aimed at preteens and teens and therefore four generations after my teenage years.
i saw luv ka the end the other day attached to which were two promos, one for something called mujhse fraaandship karoge (is this what is called ‘proposing’ in current lingo?) and the other called always kabhi kabhi (a dichotomy i love). the branding of both these films aims at the above demographic and what i cant understand is this… do kids these days, and please excuse the use of the word kids if it isn’t appropriate, only relate to campus and coffee shop films?
every film that claims to be young looks the same to me. the setting is some out of this world college called st. something or the other rather obviously positioning it in a bandra by-lane. the students all dress the same, the trendier girls in miniskirts and tight tops, the behenji types who guard their ‘virginity’ zealously in jeans and tees, the boys in destressed jeans and layered tees with provocative slogans. the sexier teachers wear chiffon sarees and blouses (is that a today’s word?) held together by prayer and fragile strings. the male teachers usually wear jackets making them hot under the collar for more reasons than one.
what flummoxes me totally is the language. but then i guess hep and heavy are no longer so. thankfully hot and cool (immortalised by SRK in his deewangee song in om shanti om) are more or less what they were except that they often mean the same thing. killer is now a good thing to be and brevity (read sms language) is the soul of wit.
but coming back to the films being made. why on earth would films set in schools and colleges be popular with those who spend most of the day in precisely those places. why would they want to see stories they must already be familiar with. what happened to living vicariously. what happened to aspirational and larger than life. what happened to stories that touch your heart and maybe your soul. have they become the haven of older people only?
like i said, i cant think 16. does that make me redundant?
if, as they say, you get the domestics you deserve, obviously both my karmas are very bad. maybe i was a queen (or king) in a previous birth and was constantly beheading both. as things stand i am always on the lookout for drivers and cooks because either they quit on me or i sack them.
and so another day dawns when i have neither. and if you think thats nothing much to worry about you obviously havent taken a rickshaw from bandra to andheri or back or tried cooking even the simplest meal for yourself at the end of a long and tiring working day.
what is strange is the fact that there is so much of unemployment one would have thought there would be hundreds of applications for the job. but unfortunately no. if there are dregs in the driverworld, they are the ones who come to me. one guy wanted to know in january if i was planning to give him a baksheesh for diwali? one wanted to know if there was a mediclaim plan even before he asked about timings and salary and regular stuff like that.
last week i got a call from a driver who presented himself the next day for a trial. we were approaching a signal which was red, there were a few vehicles already standing at the signal and he suddenly put on a spurt of speed. It was only when i screamed that he hit the brakes and we came to a stop some inches away from the car at the signal.
it is perhaps a sign of my desperation that i asked him if he had made a mistake and had stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake, i was willing to forgive the one mistake. but no, he smiled at me and said he hadnt. obviously he was shown the door and the search goes on.
from today the cook search also commences.
needless to say, but i will say so nevertheless, all references are welcome.
well accessorised friends have taken objection to my casual attitude to socks. (leave a comment buster, lets get this page populated).
while i will choose to ignore them, i have to admit that my son’s habit of picking any two socks and wearing them once almost drove a four-year-old girl hysterical when he took off his shoes at a salon, preparing for a pedicure.
the little girl, who had been very well accessorised including matching hair clips and hanky probably saw all the lessons of a lifetime come to nought when here was a grown man with one orange and one purple sock. my heart bled for the child but i figured into every life a little rain must fall and the sooner it does, the sooner you learn one of lifes premier lessons.
well meaning friends have also advised me to do a course in punctuation and are aghast though malleable when i tell them that after 33 years as a journalist when one was conscious of every hyphen, apostrophe etc i am now keen to cut the apron strings of punctuation and fly free. periods and commas excepted.
what’s worse? no comment on what you have written or a spate of hate mail?
difficult to say really. both leave you terribly despondent, though, gun to my head, i prefer hate mail.
when there is no comment i agonise that no one is reading me. hate mail means i worry that people are reading too much into what i have written.
when i was reviewing bollywood films for DNA some of the mail i got would be from people agreeing with what i had critiqued, some would point out what i had missed, and the majority would enclose their own amateur review. i often wondered… what was it about my review that made them send me their versions? did i sound like such a patsy that i would want to read about a film i had taken great pains to forget. did they want my job?
till the day i reviewed an akshay kumar film and panned it as soundly as i was prone to doing to idiotic, imbecilic, inane, immature films. don’t ask me why but i seem to have touched a nerve and within a few hours my inbox was flooded with a spate of responses more or less telling me the same thing. that i was a moronic, menopausal, mental mirani who had no idea about humour, toilet or otherwise.
maybe. after all maybe what i needed was a mirror held up to my cucumber cool, crafty (with words), cognizant (about films) crazily critical self, so that i learned to appreciate the lack of nuances in the work of directors with an IQ that was less than their shoe size.
except that i noticed that all the letters, though mailed from all over the globe, were worded the same.
ah! the penny dropped. here was a cut and paste expert, just like the director of the said film.
would i have exchanged this flurry of mails for a complacent no comment? take a guess. winner will get a dvd of the film.