Bollywood actors Hrithik Roshan, Priyanka Chopra and Sanjay Dutt in Dubai to promote their film Agneepat Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/Gulf News

Dubai: The remake of 1990 cult classic Agneepath is long-awaited, but no-one is more nervous than its star, Hrithik Roshan. The actor shared his fears in a press conference at the Armani Hotel in Dubai on Thursday, and was joined by his co-stars Priyanka Chopra and Sanjay Dutt.

Fumbling with the microphone, Roshan claimed he was very nervous, advising to “keep the mike at a safe distance so that you don’t hear my heart palpitating right now,” he said. “For some reason it’s just hit me now that the film is done and is about to release. It has been a fantastic journey and I think we’ve all put so much into it that the anxiety and the excitement and the nervousness right now is quite justified”.

Dutt, the senior actor, plays the villain, Kancha Cheena. “Being bad can’t get worse than Kaancha,” Dutt said, adding his character is “very different. Very grounded. Very scary.” Of Roshan’s role, he said: “He looks like a really tough guy.”

Chopra was “very excited” to bring Agneepath here. “Playing Kali has been very, very special. She is, I think, the soul and the softness in the film and I was really happy when Karan [Malhotra, the director] came and narrated the part to me. I hope that when you watch the film you’ll feel the way I felt when I was doing the movie. It’s a really special film and Karan’s done an outstanding job”.

The film’s promo was played with lights on, although both Chopra and Roshan twice requested to put the lights off.

On being questioned whether he was suited for the role of a tough guy, Roshan said, “as an actor it’s my job to explore the art. A lot of people thought that my looks, maybe because of my colour or something, wouldn’t suit a slum boy role. But I think acting is all about expressions not your features. When I did Koi Mil Gaya, certain factions thought it will not be appropriate for me but that went down well for me so I am hoping this time also justifies me being behind the role”.

But would a remake be accepted just as well as the original?

“I think the audience will react exactly the way I reacted because I was against doing a remake, especially the remake is of a classic,” said Roshan. “In my head I kept saying, why distort the sanctity of something that is so amazing? Why go there? And especially, why should I go there when Mr [Amitabh] Bachchan has done what he has done in that film. But in narration, the script, the screenplay, broke all my preconceived notions. It went through all the layers and just hit my heart. I just put my head down after I read the screenplay. I shook my head and said ‘I have to do this film’. Why would I not do it? So comparisons can be good. Maybe it will excite the people enough to come and watch it, even if just to compare.”

Dutt said comparisons are inevitable. “Hrithik is very very convincing and looks very tough. Danny Sahab is a legend, an awesome actor. I think Kaancha in this very, very different. He’s more grounded, he’s more crazy, scary. I like that.”

“I think it’s a mammoth task to take on a film like this, not just by actors who have to play parts which have been played and remembered but also by the director,” said Chopra. “But what is fascinating about Agneepath is that Karan has evolved Agneepath into his own vision. Both these gentlemen have played their part incredibly differently. You will never feel that it’s the same Mr Bachchan or Danny Sir playing the parts because they are not the same people anymore. And when you are watching the film, that’s what will remind you that this is a completely new movie. There’s nothing similar except for the premise of the movie and that was evident even on the script level”.

The cast then moved to an invites-only afternoon tea where they mingled with fans and signed the hotel’s guestbook, Roshan and Dutt later met hundreds of fans at Dubai Mall, while Chopra rushed to board a flight to Macau, where she will present Saturday’s Zee Cine Awards.

Agneepath releases on January 26.