Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan who has just rolled out his new film 'Vikram Vedha'
Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan who has just rolled out his new film 'Vikram Vedha' Image Credit: Supplied

Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan, who’s basking in the critical success of his new gangster drama ‘Vikram Vedha’, is unfazed at all that surround noise about Hindi cinema going through a creative and box-office slump.

His industry’s year-to-year decline -- barring a handful of Bollywood films such as the horror comedy ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’ and fantasy adventure ‘Brahmastra: Part One Shiva’ which struck box-office gold – makes you wonder if the drought is here to stay. Even ‘Vikram Vedha’, despite glowing reviews and good star ratings, isn’t translating to robust ticket sales in India and beyond.

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In 'Vikram Vedha', a re-make of the 2017 Tamil blockbuster that originally starred R Madhavan and Vijay Sethupathi, sees him play a roguish criminal who slices his enemies into half with a knife with pride Image Credit: Supplied

In comparison, South Indian star-led vehicles like ‘RRR’ and ‘KGF: Chapter 2’ turned out be behemoth box-office success. But Roshan isn’t worried and is keen to look at the bigger picture.

“Failure doesn’t bother me, it only creates an opportunity to seek feedback,” said Roshan in an interview with Gulf News.

His new film ‘Vikram Vedha’, in which he plays a swaggering gangster who’s all man and muscle, is enjoying its first-week run at the UAE cinemas now.

“I love to see the Indian film industry thrive as a whole. But that can only happen when we deliver to the audiences taste … With feedback comes room for betterment and growth. And where there is room for growth, there is an endless potential to doing good work,” added Roshan.

According to industry experts, the slump seen by Bollywood is being attributed to the pandemic-induced downturn that has affected cinema globally, rise in popularity of streaming platforms, and the hike in territory-agnostic viewers who are game to watch any film or series, provided the content is riveting.

“Indian cinema is at the cusp of evolution,” said Roshan.

Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan who has just rolled out his new film 'Vikram Vedha'
Hrithik Roshan is one of Bollywood's versatile talents Image Credit: Supplied

‘Vikram Vedha’, a tale of a rakish gangster and trigger-happy cop (Saif Ali Khan) indulging in hyper-masculine mind games, is undoubtedly compelling since both the actors are in terrific form. It's the faithful re-make of the 2017 Tamil film starring Vijay Sethupathi as the criminal and R Madhavan as the stoic law enforcement officer. 

Credited as one of Indian cinema’s versatile talents with swashbuckling looks and agile dancing skills, Roshan has constantly tried to surprise his viewers. In the last few years, his choice of films including ‘Kaabil’ – a thriller of a man avenging the rape of his blind wife – and ‘War’ in which he played a strapping soldier have reaped rich dividends.

Tiger Shroff and Hrithik Roshan in War
Tiger Shroff and Hrithik Roshan in 'War' Image Credit: Yash Raj Films

Excerpts from our interview with Roshan, who has constantly re-invented himself since his dream debut in Bollywood with the syrupy romance ‘Kaho … Na Pyaar Hai’ in 2000. We talk about filming in Abu Dhabi after the pandemic, taking on challenging roles, and why he’s at his happiest phase in his life …

Audience tastes and viewing patterns have changed, so a movie’s relevance is being explored by actors and industry experts. Your thoughts?

A: The testimony of evolution of any kind makes me very happy. So the audience feedback and change in consumption pattern only makes me hopeful that Indian cinema is at a cusp of evolution, only for the better. Some 30 years ago, we had witnessed one such change with the demand for larger-than-life films, but today the audience is looking for content that is real and relevant. This audience feedback is precious and I’m certain that as industry we will grow to deliver our very best.

How do you look back on your journey in Bollywood?

I look back at my journey with a lot of gratitude. I’m thankful for the unconditional love my audience has given me over the years. I’m thankful for the opportunities that came my way. Over the course of 25 films, I’ve learnt a lot and tried my best to better myself as an actor and as a person.

Hrithik Roshan in 'Krrish 3'
Hrithik Roshan in 'Krrish 3' Image Credit: Supplied

What skills have you acquired during the pandemic?

The pandemic had me realign my priorities. Earlier I’d dedicate everything to work, but today work is a part of my life, not my whole life.

Tell us more about your role in ‘Vikram Vedha’ and what drew you to the subject?

It was the script and the fact that film makers Gayatri and Pushkar would be directing ‘Vikram Vedha’ which drew me instantly to signing the film. The story of ‘Vikram Vedha’ is so intricately woven and its sheer brilliance of writing done by Pushkar sir and Gayatri ma’am amazed me. Vedha’s character is that of a gangster who is mysterious, yet very expressive. Vedha is someone who is tough on the outside and extremely sensitive on the inside. He feels deeply and he acts harshly. It is by far the most extreme character I have portrayed on screen.

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How was it filming in Abu Dhabi during the post-pandemic era?

Filming in Abu Dhabi was the first sense of normalcy that I experienced post-pandemic. Being back on a film set, in the presence of my film team -- although we shot in a bio bubble set-up – was comforting. The feeling of being in the presence of my film community made me happy.

What did you observe about Saif Ali Khan, you on-screen arch enemy?

The first thing that comes to my mind when I see Saif on-screen or off-screen is that he is very real. He doesn’t have filters, he speaks his mind and he is very opinionated. He is also easygoing and warm to everyone around him. No starry tantrums at all. When it comes to a film set, he is an individual who is the most passionate about cinema and acting. I respect him a lot, as an actor, and as a human being. It was a delight to work alongside him for ‘Vikram Vedha’.

Saif Ali Khan in 'Vikram Vedha'
Saif Ali Khan plays a cop, who thinks he's scrupulous, in 'Vikram Vedha' Image Credit: Instagram/HrithikRoshan

 What’s the most challenging part of ‘playing a gangster in Vikram Vedha’?

I wouldn’t call it challenging because my experience of being a part of 'Vikram Vedha' was enriching. Collaborating with one of the best minds, my directors Gayatri Ma’am and Pushkar Sir, along with some of the finest actors like Saif Ali Khan, Radhika Apte, Rohit Saraf, Sharib Hashmi and Satyadeep Misra led to a healthy exchange of ideas and personal growth for me.

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Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan waves during the song launch of his upcoming Indian Hindi-language action thriller film ‘Vikram Vedha’ in Mumbai on September 17, 2022. (Photo by SUJIT JAISWAL / AFP) Image Credit: AFP

What’s your acting process like?

I usually start with getting the hair for all my characters right. After that, I build on the physique and personality of my on-screen characters. From there on, I go with all that’s required to play the part. It’s a process that usually takes a couple of months at least to crack.

How would you describe this phase in your life?

Life is beautiful. I am happy to be healthy and doing the work that’s coming my way.

Don’t Miss It!

‘Vikram Vedha’ is out in UAE cinemas now