After such a mega hit Aashiqui 2, the only film you did was Daawat-e-Ishq. This is your second film after a considerable time. Why such long gaps?
Yes you’re right I did only one film after Aashiqui 2 because Daawat-e-Ishq was the first script that I liked after Aashiqui 2 released. Daawat… took some time and what happens is when a film does really well, then it takes some time for something good to come along. You don’t jump at the first thing that you get unless it’s really extra ordinary. So that took its own course after which I had to wait for four months for Daawat-e-Ishq to start. Once that got over, Fittor happened and that too took some time to start. In between, I didn’t find anything that I fell in love with or wanted to do. But having said that, I would like to do more films and would love to have more releases a year, especially at this stage of my career. I am the most happy when I am on a film set. A film set is where I get my happiness from.
Is it true that because Daawat-e-Ishq didn’t do well at the box office, you were skeptical about choosing a film and had become very selective?
No I don’t think so. When a film doesn’t work as much as you expect it to, it obviously hurts. Daawat… wasn’t a disaster; it didn’t do as well as we wanted it to. You put in a lot of blood and sweat into every film you do, no matter how big or small it is. Filmmaking is also a business and whoever has invested their money, time and energies want good returns. So when a film doesn’t do well, it’s not a nice feeling. But to answer your question, I had signed Fitoor when I was shooting for Daawat. I didn’t really wait to see how Daawat… would fare at the box office.
Fitoor took its own course of time; so was it difficult to maintain the look throughout this period?
It was difficult to get to that look than maintaining it. Actually what had happened is that while shooting for Daawat-e-Ishq, I was eating everything that came in front of me. I played the role of a chef and I took that role very seriously. I had put on a lot of weight. When Gattu (Abhishek Kapoor, director of Fitoor) saw me, he asked me to lose all that weight and after seeing the trailer, you all know why! And you will be shocked to know that I had actually gained 17-18 kilos extra which I had to lose for Fitoor. So once I got that look, it wasn’t really difficult to maintain it. More than the look, it was difficult to maintain the mood and feel of the character, especially when you are dealing with a subject matter like this. It wasn’t a role that I could slip in and slip out of so easily. So more than the physical aspect, the mental aspect was way more challenging in case of Fitoor.
Fitoor had its own share of ups and downs, especially with the casting when Rekha walked out of the film and Tabu stepped in. How was your experience of working with the yesteryear diva?
Working with Rekhaji was great! It was really lovely. I actually got to shoot only three days with her. You know when you are in presence of actors who are so superior in the craft, and are so experienced, you get to learn so much by just observing them and their approach towards work. In just two minutes after entering the set, Rekhaji knew what the dynamics were, and apart from that, the way she rehearses every scene and approaches her work is commendable. We had lived with the idea of Rekhaji playing the role for so long, and hence it required a lot of readjustments when Tabu came onboard because we all had to reshoot the same scenes with someone fresh who brought her own dynamics on board. But she has done a brilliant job!
What was that one thing that drove you to do Fitoor?
Actually there were quite a few; even the fact that it had Katrina Kaif drove me to do Fitoor. But on a serious note, she is absolutely perfect for the part, so that was great casting. I don’t know if you guys remember but this film was initially supposed to have Sushant Singh Rajput and when I read about the film in newspapers, I had wished I could get to do it. But I thought; better luck next time. It seldom happens that I read about someone else’s project and feeling like doing it. Shockingly, a year-and-a-half later, it came to me, which means I was probably destined to do it. I had seen Gattu’s earlier films and I have always respected his sensibilities as a filmmaker and I somewhere knew that he would be able to adapt to this film very well.
Have you been in love and at what level has it been similar to the way your character in Fitoor loves Katrina?
Of course I have fallen in love but not the way this boy in the film loves his girl. He doesn’t receive any love back but he is still in love with her. I haven’t experienced that kind of love.
So anything that you took back from the film or the character who is intensely in love with his girl?
There is nothing specific that I took back home. See you learn and grow with every film; you discover something new about yourself, your process and working style. You keep correcting yourself wherever you have been going wrong. I have learnt a lot about myself while playing this character.
How excited are you to work with Shraddha again after a blockbuster like Aashiqui 2?
Well it’s great to come back and work with her again. It’s a great story and a very good subject for both of us to come together for something new and exciting and something which is so different than Aashiqui 2. It will help us to explore the never-seen-before sides of each other personalities. Thankfully it won’t be repetitive. We had a lovely time shooting Aashiqui 2 and I am very excited to begin shooting with her again. We begin in March and I am sure it will be fun.
Does competition worry you or does it bother you to see your contemporaries doing more movies and seen, heard and written about more than you?
Ha ha ha! No not at all. I don’t think about them getting or doing more work. Yes I have been doing less work; maybe I have been a little more selective in the kinds of films I want to do. Like I said, I want to do more films and be on a film set more than I have been in the last few years. But thankfully, after Fitoor, I start my film with Shaad Ali opposite Shraddha in March so there won’t be a huge gap between these two movies. I am always aware of what my contemporaries are doing but I have never been insecure or worried about what they are doing. When my contemporaries do good work, it honestly inspires me to go out and do more good work. If you look at it in a negative way or start feeling envious or bad about your contemporaries doing more work, then that negativity will pull you down and make you bitter as a person. Ideally you should observe where they are stronger and learn and imbibe their good qualities and move ahead. That’s ideally the best way to go about your career. I hope to do well in my zone and to be more secure with who I am.