Q. After Raajneeti it was Chakravyuh and now Satyagraha. Your association with Prakash Jha continues...
When you’ve had a good experience with a director you strike a chemistry with him. Every actor, either in Hollywood or here, has a favourite director. Prakash and I have developed that kind of association. All the characters that he offered me - be it in Raajneeti, Chakravyuh or Satyagraha are different from one another. He views me in a different light each time. His research is fascinating and he knows his art. He wanted to work with me even when I was new in the industry. He had offered me the role of Prithvi in Raajneeti five years before the film was made. Years later, he called me and said, “Remember the role I spoke to you about? We are making that film now.” I have also done Sudhir Mishra’s Inkaar, which was suggested to me by Prakash.
Q. In recent years, your choice of cinema has changed. Is this the Prakash Jha effect?
What is the point of making a film if you don’t learn anything? Prakash is an honest film maker. He doesn’t make sensational films. He makes topical films, which enlighten you. While doing Chakravyuh... we understood the Naxal issue in depth. And when you understand the problem, you find the solution as well. Prakash brings that kind of research tohis projects.
Q. Between Raajneeti and Chakravyuh, you have done hardcore entertainers like Heroine and Rascals...
Rascals can’t be called my film. I had a special appearance in it. David (Dhawan) approached me and it was Sanju’s (Sanjay Dutt) production. I didn’t do it for friendship; I did it because I liked the character. David makes comedies well. My work was only for six or seven days. I enjoyed doing RA.One too. That was a powerful role. People don’t take the entire film back home. They take away one specific thing about it. I look for films where I have something fresh to do because I too get bored doing the same thing again and again. I want to surprise the audience. My fan following has extended to children thanks to RA.One. When I did Rock On!!! people began calling me Joe. After Om Shanti Om they began calling me Mukesh Mehra. If people call you by the name of your character then you have done good work. I enjoy working in films that are real, entertaining and commercial at the same time. I like this combination.
Q. How different is your circle of friends today from when you joined films?
You don’t change friends like you change clothes. I have formed friendships with people I have worked with. The industry islike a family. Why should I take anyone’s name? Who my friends are and who I hang out with are personal matters.
Q. If the industry is like a family then what about the alleged rivalries? Even Heroine touched upon that...
Such things do happen at times. In Heroine, the protagonist is a difficult character herself. You need to understand that you have come here to work. As a true professional, you come on time, finish your work and go home because you are paid for it. But if you take the money and are not honest towards your work or bring personal hassles to the set, then it affects your reputation. What does an actor have besides his reputation and work? You need to stay real in this unreal world.
Q. Acting as a profession is full of uncertainties. Should actors have a plan B?
Who’s not insecure? Insecurities help you stay focused. They can make you negative as well because insecurity is a type of fear. It’s stems from lack of confidence You should overcome this fear. Like you’re afraid to walk in the dark as a child, but you do walk in the dark once you grow up. You don’t fear ghosts or witches then. Above all, your life is what you make of it. You shouldn’t wish bad for anyone or be happy at someone else’s downfall. When you remain positive, insecurity gives way to confidence. And when you have confidence in yourself, others too gain confidence in you. What is plan A or plan B? No one knows what will work or what won't. Whenever I start something new, I ask myself three questions. Firstly, will I be happy doing it? Secondly, will I make money from it? Thirdly, how will it help me grow? I have many hobbies. Recently, I launched a club because I am fond of music — electronic music. If you can make a profession out of your hobby then there’s nothing like it.
Q. Much has been written about your alleged fallout with Shah Rukh Khan...
Our relations are good. Why do you want to get involved in my relationship? Will what I say solve my problem? No. Then why should we talk about it? Even if there are problems with anyone, and I am not talking about Shah Rukh, then one should go out and solve them. There’s no point in tossing it around in the media.
Q. Have you had girls throwing themselves at you?
Yes. But it’s okay. When I saw Amitji (Bachchan) for the first time, I behaved like a fan myself. So I know how a fan behaves. I respect my fans. They are important for me. If I step out and no one notices me, I’d get upset.