Hrithik Roshan: ‘A good shot empowers me!’

Hrithik Roshan plays IAF Officer Patty in Fighter. Photo: Spice PR

India’s first aerial action drama, Fighter, releases on January 25 all over also in 3D and IMAX formats. it features Anil Kapoor along with the first-time combo of Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone. A media meet is organized just before the release and we get to converse heart-to-heart with all the three—incidentally, each one working for the first time with each other. (As an aside, Hrithik did a cameo as himself in a song sequence in Deepika’s debut film, Om Shanti Om, but shared no frame with her).

Interestingly, though the film was first thought of all of seven years back, by the time it crystallized on paper, Siddharth Anand, the director and co-writer, used the Pulwana and Balakot strikes by Pakistan as a backdrop, though the film and all its characters are completely fictional.

Here’s a conversation with Hrithik Roshan, the leading man of the film. Excerpts from an interview follow.

Hrithik, Fighter is your third film with director Siddharth Anand. How different is this film from Bang Bang! or War?

I felt very inspired with the script. I saw myself as the protagonist very easily as I love such films, I think they are in my DNA. It’s been a long journey with Siddharth as Bang Bang! was released 10 years ago.

But the difference here is that though the film is larger-than-life, my character is different as Patty, as he is known, is real. Patty is an element of reality in a blockbuster structure. He’s not Kabir of War, Krrish, or any in-your-face larger-than-life hero. So I signed up as an actor, to go back to my roots. We actors are just the colors he uses. My director is the artist, and we actors are at his disposal.

Siddharth has grown hugely since my first film with him. He gave me 13 more ideas and I liked them all! But we finally opted for this subject, as it shows the lifestyle of an IAF officer and a pilot.

I did a similar kind of role in Lakshya two decades back, and though I enjoyed it as much, that film did not have the commercialism of this movie.

Deepika Padukone is an established name, but a first-time co-star for you.

Oh I was excited to work with her! She brings in an element of realism to her performances, and I saw that every line she was saying was coming from a deep place. When two actors interpret lines with the intention of getting the best out of what is written on paper, it is great. I was bouncing off every line she was saying. That’s what created chemistry between us and we look very endearing and real together. I realized that I had to match her frequency, otherwise I would look as if was overdoing things.

Let me tell you in particular about when we were shooting for the song, Sher khul gaye. I was putting in a lot of effort at getting the steps right, but something was wrong. And then I watched her and found that she was so effortless! I told her to do her step for me until I understood it and finally just copied her and got it right! Sometimes, one tends to get lost in technicalities. I thanked her and I remember at least two more incidents when I thanked her.

Speaking of songs, your family is into music, beginning with your paternal grandfather, the legendary Roshan-saab, then your uncle, Rajesh Roshan. How much of that sense of music has come into you as you sing very well and have done so in films like Kites, Guzaarish, Zindagi Na Nilegi Dobara and Super 30?

Yes, music is in my blood, it’s my inspiration! If I had failed as actor, I would probably have been involved somewhere in music. Music is life—you can transport yourself to any emotion you want.

24 years and counting: How do you look back as actor and as star?

Honestly, it’s been a kind of tug-of-war. I really, really enjoy being an actor,  aspiring to get better every day and work at getting deep into my characters, questioning myself on what are their motivations. I think that stardom is a gift bestowed upon me, but it does not empower me the way a good shot does, or when I know that my director is happy with what I have done. And I can then sleep well! But stardom can sometimes be a burden, though I would want to turn it into gratitude.

When will we see you in a simple film again? After the lockdown, a lot has changed.

Why shouldn’t I choose different roles? I want to broaden the scope as wide as possible. I do not select my movies with box-office calculation, but want stories that hit my heart. I have done Super 30, Kaabil or Guzaarish because I have been a slave to my instinct. There is no mathematics. Siddharth also admires me for choosing Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, a three-hero slice-of-life film that was so real. Art would be dead if we artistes chose projects as calculating mathematicians. We cannot do that!

There’s buzz that Fighter is a version of Top Gun, as in both cases also, the hero is a shade arrogant.

Totally wrong! In Top Gun, the hero was a rebel without a cause. Patty’s arrogance comes because of his back story. He does not allow people in.

Speaking of your role here, did your uniform give you strength?

I have worn a uniform earlier in Lakshya and a cape and costume in Krrish. There is definitely some magic in them. When you put them on, you feel the responsibility and strength. It’s surreal, but it works!

One more point not many know is that you assisted your dad, Rakesh Roshan, when he directed Anil Kapoor in films like Kaala Bazaar, Kishen Kanhaiya and Khel. Care to share some memories?

Oh, I can talk lots on Anil-sir! I modeled my process by seeing Anil-sir as actor for almost four years! I was a damn good assistant by the way, and still am, if you check on what I was for Sid (Siddharth) apart from being his actor! And I learnt a lot from him.

Let me address Anil-sir directly: I remember this scene in Fighter in a corridor. In general, whenever you compliment anyone for doing something well, it is acknowledged. But if that feat is of the level of a gold medal at the Olympics, then that person is overwhelmed. On paper, there was this aggressive scene that you, Anil-sir, interpreted in a totally different way, and when I complimented you, your eyes welled up!

And I thought, “My God, he has put in so much of himself into that one small scene after 40 years in the field!” and I went back to becoming an assistant again on that day! I hope and pray that I have that kind of power in me to give that much of me into one small scene. I think that acting schools should have a symbol of you!












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