AN ACTOR WITHOUT LIMITS

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If there is any actor who has inhabited a range of characters including playing a differently-abled character three times, Hrithik Roshan is the one. After Koi Mil Gaya, Guzaarish and now, Kaabil (in which he plays a blind man who sets out to avenge the murder of his blind wife), Roshan has enchanted the world. As an actor, he has always been brave to do what he wants to, upping his own standards in the process. He trusts his instincts when it comes to selecting a film and explodes with the emotions that come up with each script. Speaking to The Indian Weekly from Mumbai on telephone, Roshan is bubbling with excitement on the release of Kaabil, the encouraging early reviews of the film and that fact that he is speaking to someone from the city (Melbourne) he loves. “Australia is a very special place. I have incredible memories of all the times I have spent there. I can say a lot of things if I could, say, switch off the phone, come out and give everyone there a big hug.” Excerpts of the interview.

Firstly tell us what is special about Kaabil, apart from the fact that the film was shot in 60 days?
The super special thing about Kaabil is the inspiration I have got. I had the opportunity to meet some of my blind friends who reaffirmed my belief in life that nothing is impossible. The concept of the blinds in our mind is that they live in darkness when in fact we are the ones who are actually blind to the blind world. When I met blind lawyers, cricketers, photographers, body builders, vocalists, guitarists, you name them, who are doing everything that we are doing, I started questioning — If they can do so much without being able to see, what difference is there between the potential they have and the potential that we all have inside us. It made me draw a parallel. We all have some darkness in our lives, we have some areas in our life where we are struggling but after meeting these successful blind people I had to propagate the fact that the potential they have is within all of us.
Fighting some of my own darkness has become a lot easier for me now that I know that the potential exists, that the human spirit is unbreakable or unstoppable. This is what I take back for myself from the film to keep moving forward no matter what and make this life the best life possible.
Kaabil has also been one of the best journeys I have had. The script impacted me so much emotionally and now since its release it is nice to know that it is impacting the audience and the way they are giving the love back is just great. It is so fulfilling. Of course, it is not the time to focus on myself; this is the time for me to give back as much love as I can. These are the only windows when I can connect to my fans and say thank you. So a special thank you to all my fans in Melbourne and all over Australia. This love is coming from one of the most beautiful places that I have experienced in my life. I have love and adored my time in Australia. I can’t wait to get back after the success of Kaabil. It will be even brighter and special, I believe.

How did you get into the skin of the character?
I think the biggest challenge with this film was to let go off the aura of stardom. You know once we get a little bit of success and get treated as stars we kind of get attached to stardom. So you start developing a style of walking, talking etc. To play Rohan I had to let go off all of those trappings. I am quite proud of myself that I had the sensibility and the courage to let go off the ‘star’ label and play a very simple character because I would like to think of myself as an adventurer not just in life but also in my art. I want to experience new worlds and not just keep catering to one image. For Kaabil, it was a keen desire to do something beautiful given its beautiful subject. And that’s the plus point. That’s why I think Kaabil is such a success. It’s the uniqueness of the story and the idea that the imagery works. It’s not the star; we are all just the same,. Actors can’t do anything without a good script. So all the joys and praises that I am getting is being distributed to my team and the writers upon whose shoulders I stand.

You also worked hard on your voice for this film?
When I was a kid, my voice was my biggest drawback and something I was not very proud of. Today when I hear praises about my voice, again I am reaffirmed in the belief in the universe that when you connect the dots, work hard and look back – everything makes sense in your life. The idea is to just keep moving forward, so I am very happy that people are talking about what I have done with my voice. It was hard work and the praises are very motivating, very encouraging. Thank you.

How was your equation Yami Gautam?
It was beautiful. She comes from a place which is almost non–worldly. She is such a pure hearted spirit who is here to do some magic. When I met her for the first time on the sets, I really felt I was meeting my twin. We were comfortable because we were both nervous, we knew we were doing something special here and it was difficult. So the give and take became very organic, very beautiful. We were learning from each other’s mistakes, we were enjoying living in the character. She is the most talented actor I have worked with. She is absolutely incredible.

But what was the toughest thing about Kaabil?
There’s a lot of action in the film and there are sequences you will see where my eyes are open but I wouldn’t know where the person who is about to attack is standing. I had to literally play blind. Once the director says action, I had to count and calculate the attacker’s movement or steps and how much time the punch would take to connect with my pace because we have to be mindful of injuries. My father, who did all the research to analyse how a blind man reacts to situations, had these videos where I came to understand that basically the human potential is equal in all of us and the blind are here just to serve as an example of that. So if we have any darkness in our lives we are capable of overcoming it and finding that light.

How do you judge a good film?
Not by calculation but by how much it touches me, how it hits me. When I hear a script for the first time, if I have a tear in my eye, if my hair raises and stands on ends, then I know that it will give goose bumps to the audience. So I just go by my own instincts because I know that every other human is just like me. There are also other ways to select a film but very few films such as Guzarish, Koi Mil Gaya or Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara allow you to remove all the tags of stardom; they allow you to just have an adventure with your mind. Kaabil gave me a similar opportunity and I am just so very grateful and thankful for that.

Your future projects?
Right now I am undecided but Kaabil is definitely my new benchmark. I am going to make sure that my next project also induces that kind of love and passion. We will do something that is again going to be very unique.

Your message to fans in Australia?
Australia is a very special place. I have incredible memories of all the time I have spent there. I can say a lot of things, if I could, say, switch off the phone, come out and give everyone there a big hug. The next time I am there I will enjoy a lot more after the love you have shown for Kaabil. Thank you for supporting. Do go watch this film. It was a heartache for me in so many ways that it makes me sure that it will touch your hearts and make you feel little bit more brighter about your life. Just go for the entertainment.

(interview courtesy MindBlowing Films)