Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan was mighty impressed with ‘Joker’, this year’s polarising blockbuster starring Joaquin Phoenix, but there’s a catch.
“It’s amazing that you make such a dark character and you end up rooting for the evil guy. But I wouldn’t do it,” Roshan said in an interview with Gulf News tabloid!.
The actor, who has enjoyed massive success with blockbusters including ‘Super 30’ and ‘War’, was in Dubai recently to promote the Swiss luxury watch brand Rado. While Pheonix’s film that divided critics and audiences alike floored him, he can never imagine himself spearheading such a project. The reason?
“It leaves you depressed and dark and that’s not what I want the audience to feel when they watch my films … I don’t think it’s the cinema that I want to make,” said Roshan.
True to his word, his movies are rarely bleak or emotionally warped. Unlike ‘Joker’, Roshan’s films play it relatively safe.
For instance, his recent action-fuelled blockbuster ‘War’ crossed the coveted Rs400 crore (Rs4 billion, Dh206 million) club and the money spinner was glossy, filled with glamorous military officers fighting evil forces across the globe. It was almost an ode to his gleaming torso and his gravity-defying flips.
His turn in another 2019 hit ‘Super 30’, an underdog tale in which he played an inspiring professor whose mission in life was to help underprivileged students crack a competitive exam, was strictly vanilla and did not trigger any poignant debates about mental health and glorification of toxic behaviour like in ‘Joker’.
Perhaps, the only pertinent debate stemmed from Roshan, 45, deliberately darkening his lighter skin to a dark brown to underline his poor background. But the actor maintained that he wasn’t perpetuating the stereotype and prejudice that dark skin means being lesser privileged in India.
“It has been a good year and ‘War’ is still going strong [at the box office]. It’s pretty relieving because I went through hell to make this film and I am happy for it. I am happy that the audiences are enjoying this film. It’s reassuring and motivating and I feel encouraged that it’s a big success. I am waiting to watch how big it gets,” he said.
While he’s mouthing those positive words, his face was hidden behind a pair of dark sunglasses in the afternoon and was defiantly distant. Did the filming of those dangerous action sequences drain him off all his energy? Roshan played the bronzed Kabir Luthra, who hunts down the bad guys in his own military unit.
“I had to be very meticulous and intelligent about what I can and cannot do. But I managed doing whatever I had to … Kabir is an extension of myself, but it’s my character in ‘Super 30’ that’s close to my heart,” he added.
In ‘Super 30’ — inspired by real-life hero and Professor Anand Kumar, and directed by Vikas Bahl who was tainted by #MeToo allegations — Roshan played an angelic educator. He turned several shades darker and his looks were downplayed.
“It was not an experiment. I am closer to the character that I played in ‘Super 30’ than in ‘War’. That is more me and that’s the person I am,” Roshan said. While the world celebrates his good looks, vanity doesn’t come easy to Roshan.
“If I had an attachment to my looks then I wouldn’t do films like ‘Super 30’ or ‘Guzaarish’ … I don’t really care much about that and nor am I attached to it.”
The star prefers to let his work do the talking. The actor who made his debut in 2000 with the hit romance ‘Kaho Naa … Pyaar Hai’ has a checkered career catalogue filled with hits and misses. Along with stupendous highs with films such as ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ and the ‘Krrish’ series, in which he played a caped superhero, his popularity has also plummeted to shattering lows after his public spat with actress Kangana Ranaut over an alleged affair.
But despite surviving in the highly volatile world of Bollywood, where scrutiny of its public figures is painful, he claims he has never looked back.
“History is there for you to learn and it gives me feedback on how to move forward. While I have learnt a few good things along the way, I don’t look back in nostalgia. That’s a waste of time,” said Rohan glancing at his luxury watch. The only thread of nostalgia was visible when he spoke about his brand association and how it was always aspirational for him.
“I used to see a Rado watch on my father’s wrist and it used to look amazing on his wrist. And as I grew up, I always wanted a wrist that would make a watch look really good. And eventually I became the brand ambassador … it has been quite a journey.”
Surprisingly, it’s his boys aged 11 and 13 years, who are his biggest critics. They often laugh at his early films in his fledgling career.
“Their standards are high,” said Roshan with a laugh.
“So my kids see my films and they are obviously appalled at how bad I was as an actor. They recently saw ‘K3G’ [‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham’] and they simply can’t understand the melodrama in those films and how everyone is so kind and nice. It is not real and it’s not possible in today’s times, they told me … It isn’t cool anymore,” he said.
You could see some warmth seeping into his glacial features when he spoke about his sons. But his game face was back on when asked if he fears being typecast.
“I don’t think anyone can [typecast me] even if they want to because I have done such crazy roles … I am an actor and all I want to do is explore my craft. The platforms don’t matter. If I get something that’s worthy of my time, then I would love to do it.”
It’s no secret that Roshan keeps a low profile. Rarely seen at parties schmoozing with entertainment moguls, the actor prefers to pour all his energy into his work.
“It’s actually a skill to be seen at the right parties … It’s a skill and I have to develop it somehow. It’s not that I don’t like to go to parties. I want to frequent parties, but I have been stuck with work for the last two years at a stretch. When I am working, I don’t party and I am disciplined about that. Maybe now is the time to party and I am going to relax now.”
He hasn’t fixed any new year’s resolution and is now considering letting loose a bit as one of the options.