Excerpts from an interview:
Q- You have build a varied filmography. It seems you always opted for variety instead of trying to get at the top in the movie business.
A- I was always passionate about my work. I wanted to show people what I am as an actor. I did not join the film industry with an ambition to become famous or popular. I am a very private person. I don’t like so much attention. The whole phenomenon of fame throws me off guard. In this whole madness, I find something that I can hold onto, enjoy and that is doing different roles.
Luckily I met people like Gulzar ji, Rajeev Menon and others who made my journey interesting. For me, the only interesting part is when I am into a character and growing with every film. ‘The Namesake’ changed my life, it opened new doors and then (there was) ‘Life Of Pi’. It was all a great experience. I wanted to play it my way, I was convinced if I do it my way I will get it right. I hated it when people told me to do what others were doing.
Q- Do you pick light-hearted films for monetary reasons or for friendships and content-driven projects to satisfy your hunger as an artiste?
A- I don’t know about other actors. If at that given point I feel if I like it, I do it. I don’t think anything else then. As an actor, you are not creating roles for yourself. I make the best choice from what is offered to me or what will push me to the next level.
No one will do a film if they are unhappy with their role. The fundamental thing should be happiness to play a role, whether you are doing it for monetary reasons or for friendship, it does not matter… No one does bad work for the sake of friendship or money.
Q- Every film you do, you stand out. How do you manage to do that with each project?
A- I don’t make a conscious effort to stand out. It is great that people feel so. It happens unconsciously. I don’t know what the factors are that people think of me like that.
At different points, you have different yardsticks and barometers to select a project and it also depends on what you are offered, what you want to do at that point and what you want to stay away from. It is a mix of many factors. Films are something that no one can plan. If I like something, I feel the character is outstanding and it will allow me to explore my creative abilities, I do it.
Q- Would it be right to say that you are the dark horse of Bollywood?
A- I can’t put labels on and give definitions to myself… that is for others to write or say. I am glad that I got the right platform to reinvent myself and do something different every time. I did not let go of the chances that I got.
I am grateful to the directors for offering me great roles. I give credit to the writers for writing such good parts. I was exploring myself again and again. I did parts that one would not do. I wanted to grow as an actor. I am lucky to get good work that established me as an actor and made me the dark horse.