How does it feel to complete two decades in Bollywood?
It feels good, it feels very gratifying, and the fact that I started with a good film, and the last year also I released a film that is very well, actually. So I think the two ends of the spectrum have both been very, very rewarding. So I hope to have many more milestones like that, fingers crossed.
What encouraged you to be a part of Bollywood?
I was never really fixated on it. I wanted to try something with films. So, I became an assistant director, and then I just got an offer to act in a film by chance, and I thought that that’s a good job offer I got. I wanted to give it my best shot and I just did that basically… Dive into the deep end to figure out whether I can swim my way back to the shore or survive in the ocean and I was able to do with my first film, thereafter, the journey began. So, it was never planned, and the encouragement came on the job, as I did more and more work I got more and more encouraged.
From out-and-out comedy to hardcore drama, what made you choose different scripts and films?
I think the fact that they were challenges, the different roles that I was offered, whether it was the first ‘Kya Kool Hai Hum,’ the first ‘Golmaal’, ‘Shootout at Lokhandwala’, ‘Shor In The City’. When I did them, all these films were out of my comfort zone. So the challenges excite me. When you always do something very surprising, very shocking, the audience always gets a little more entertained, they find it very novel, and if I can do it well, it can add a feather to my cap. So the idea is that it was always a selfish motive, you need to be able to portray another side to my personality, and to make people understand that I can be versatile. So that’s why I choose such challenging roles.
You play an important role in the ‘Golmaal’ series. How do you look at the character and the acceptance it received?
(Smiles) Thank you so much. It feels very good. It feels like there’s a fixed deposit investment or like a very reliable investment that I have made. During the first part, it was a risk, now it’s become a safe investment for us, that we can keep getting some benefit out of it. As we keep making ‘Golmaals’. It feels very satisfying because initially, we didn’t think that it would work out so well, and then after four ‘Golmaals,’ we’re going to make a fifth one hopefully, whenever we can. It feels like the hard work has paid off, and I’m grateful to the audience too accepting my character and making it iconic. As far as comedy films are concerned, and all the other actors who’ve supported me during the making of the four ‘Golmaals,’ I would like to thank them also because they were always very large-hearted in giving me some of the best scenes in the film at times. So, there is only gratitude, no regrets.
You recently said that you regretted some of the films you did when you were starting out…
I don’t regret the movies, because, with every film, you learn a lot, whether it’s a good thing or a bad film. I don’t regret them because those were wrong choices commercially speaking, but they have helped me grow as an actor, they have helped me to reach where I am today. As far as my career is concerned, I can decide what is right, and what is not, at least I can try to protect myself in some regard. But I think what I regret is that sometimes I didn’t get along with certain people in those films. I don’t want to think of those names but one or two times, I feel like the atmosphere is not too pleasant. So it’s not about the movie becoming a hit or a flop. But you always want to go into an atmosphere where there’s happiness, fun and frolic. So you can’t change everything as per our understanding, you can’t control everything. So, I’m willing to let go of that regret also, and I just believe that this was also part of life and a learning experience for me.
How difficult was producing ‘Laxmii’ for you, knowing that fact that there will be compared with the original?
Production is a challenging job. There are lots of stages, and it’s tough getting the right cast for a film. We’re really fortunate enough to get the best actor for this role, and the best human being and the biggest star. So, that was a plus point. But otherwise, production is not a cakewalk. Sometimes there are rains, and then in this pandemic situation, we had to release the film on OTT. Sometimes we don’t find the location, so there are many parameters that one should look after, and they often go out of control. So you have to be prepared for any and every unforeseen circumstance. In a way, this is also fun, because, at the end of the day, you know that you’ve created something, and that’s a satisfying feeling. I think ‘Laxmii’ is a milestone film for my career, and it did really well, did really well on TV. So, all the effort that we put into it by Sabina Khan (producer) and me got accepted wholeheartedly. We gave our life to this film and it paid off well, so no regrets.
Initially, director Raghava Lawrence got upset and walked off from the film? What was that all about?
Oh, it was not as serious; it was blown out of proportion not by the media, but on social media. Things got a little misrepresented, we took a week or two and we sorted out a very minor hiccup that had come in the process of making the film which was even before the film had started. So there was no real stress, and as of today, there’s only happiness there’s only positivity, and Raghava sir has given us a great film, which is so entertaining and it keeps running on satellite again and again. It did so well, all thanks to him, for being part of this film. So let bygone be bygone.
How active are you on social media? What you have to say about all the controversies surrounding Bollywood?
I’m not too active. I’m not a very controversial person, not a very controversial actor, and I’m active on Twitter and Instagram and when I feel inspired to share something I do that. Otherwise, I am balanced in social media. Sometimes I remain active, sometimes I don’t. I know people who keep posting every day, I don’t do that, and somehow this wave is so bad that the mood is so dull because you’re always confronting news about people losing their lives and we are still waiting to come out of this crisis. So you don’t really feel like posting something also because you feel like you know there are so many traumas outside and even when we are working from home, there’s this certain incompleteness which we are waiting to come out. We are making the most of it but, we should avoid social media for some time.
You come from a filmi family, your father is a star, your sister is the pioneer of Indian television and OTT, you have become a producer. How are you thinking of taking this forward?
We’re just taking each day as it comes. Each one is doing his own bit on their own. Everyone has their own goals, their own work, output, and their body of work to accomplish. So, we don’t interfere in each other’s work, Ekta is doing her work, I am doing mine. So, as far as work is concerned, we’re kind of mutually exclusive, we work together sometimes also. But otherwise, we’re doing our own thing. And we are always there for each other, we help each other like any family would, and smiles before we go to sleep.
How do you manage your work and family time?
I balance both, although it’s not that easy to balance my professional and personal life. I am with Laksshya in the morning, then I go to the gym, and work in the afternoon, then I am back with him again, and I work in the night for some script-reading sessions. So, I keep having slots. On weekends, it is a little easier. With work from home, it’s very hectic, but my personal time with my son is very fulfilling, very enjoyable. I didn’t felt bored in the lockdown, as he was with me and that’s the best part about parenting.
As a single parent, do you never feel the need to get married or have a partner?
Never, because I wouldn’t have gone through the process of becoming a single parent if I had any doubts about it. I did it at a time and age when I was ready for it and willing to take on the responsibility. I feel like I’m taking the right step. And as of today, I feel like my day is fulfilled because I have so many things to do with my son. There’s no other option I could have opted for, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I will not share myself with anybody in the world right now or in the future. So all’s well that ends well.
What are some of your upcoming projects?
My next film is called ‘Marrich,’ which will be out this year. It’s a dark-thriller, murder mystery about a double murder that happens in Mumbai. It’s a passion project, a small film that I’ve activated and produced and I hope people like this new space that I’ve tried to make a film out of, so fingers crossed for that.
Will it be an OTT release?
Most likely, yes, because we don’t know as of now what the situation is.
What do you want to say about films releasing on OTT and the evolution of content viewing?
I think given the circumstances, it is a great new option, a new avenue for us to get our film out there and get it viewed by as many people in the universe. The OTT boom that has happened in India has come as a saviour for our producers, especially those who would have had to wait and would be waiting even today if we had not had this option of releasing films on OTT platforms. So, it’s a good thing and it will always be there. But when cinemas are back, they will always be the first option for films and the audience who love to go see films in a theatre.