Joined: 15 January 2005
• You've been missing in action for long, where have you been?
I was in Philadelphia for three months, Miami for three and Pondicherry for two and before that I didn't work at all for seven months.
• l Why?
When it rains, it pours. Mom was unwell and then dad also fell ill. Also my films were not doing well. Everything came down upon me at the same time. That's when I decided to take a break and did nothing for seven months. I just sat alone and spent time with myself.
• Were you depressed?
Not at all. I'm really proud that it's not easy to break me. I'm extremely secure and confident about myself, about the kind of films I choose, about my body language that no one can take away from me. I'm never insecure about anything.
• Has working with Katrina changed your equation with Salman?
No. My working with Katrina has no bearing on any thing. I'm just doing my job. I don't feel negatively about anyone and that's my biggest strength. Contrary to belief, I am not politically correct, at all. If I were politically correct, I wouldn't have done so many different films I would have done only commercially viable films and I wouldn't have been written about for the problems I got into with so many people.
My biggest strength is my confidence. I am secure in my space. A lot of people think 'why is he so nice? Is there a problem?' But why shouldn't I be nice? I don't bear any negativity towards Salman Khan.
• Do you expect that Dostana will bring you back in the reckoning?
I've been out of the news because I had no releases for a year and three failures before that. After all that if I'm doing a Yash Raj, a Dharma and a UTV film - it makes me feel special. I owe it all to Aditya Chopra, Karan Johar and Ronnie Screwvala. Adi picked me up when I was no one.
• What's happening with Aashayein?
The film, I heard, is pushed to January. I'm so proud of it. I've given my blood and sweat and everything to it. Nagesh has done such a brilliant job. It's my baby. But unfortunately it being a small film, it keeps getting squeezed between big releases.
• What happened to the film you were to do with Imtiaz Ali?
I was supposd to do Imtiaz's film once upon a time. He's busy and in the big league now, so hopefully when he has time we may revisit that. But I'm happy for him.
• What happened to the Rumi Jaffery film?
Well, the producers told me that the dates weren't working out, so we may look at this film in the future. I didn't push it beyond a point.
• So what are the projects on hand?
Right now I am just doing two films, David Dhawan's Hook Ya Crook and Abbas Tyrewalla's 1-800-Love. If I had my way, I'd do just one of these two films.
• Other actors are doing two or three films a year, are you not getting enough offers?
I am in no rush, this is just the beginning. Right now I'm spacing myself out, I'm happy. I think I'm getting better with time.
• You are known for your physique, but do you think that Shah Rukh, Aamir and Salman are stealing the limelight in that department?
I'm a huge fan of Aamir Khan and to see him like that gets me excited like a child. He's a source of inspiration. Shah Rukh too has achieved a beautiful body and Akshay is the fittest man in this industry. Salman Khan is the reason why youth today has hit the gym. I'm probably a small fry who's come in to try and test the waters.
• You've gone from a lean body in Goal to a buffed up one in Dostana.
The brief given to me by both, Karan and Tarun (Mansukhani), was that I need to look divine when I get out of the water. That means I had to bulk up and shape up within two months. I had lost 16 kgs for Aashayein, so I had to put on 16 plus 8 kgs. From 74kgs I had to touch 94kgs. I had to achieve this through a strict diet and rigorous work out. Mike Ryan trained me so that I could look impeccable. I really worked hard for this. It's difficult to have a proportionate body.
• Would you drop your towel if required to?
Depends on the film. And why not, if the script requires me to do so!
• Suddenly there is more focus on newcomers like Ranbir Kapoor, Imran Khan and Neil Mukesh. Are they tough competition for you?
We need new people all the time. Thank God we have new men in the industry, all worth their salt. They all are outstanding! I don't see them as competition. I'm still known for the kind of films I do - and I do very different experimental films that fail commercially. Had I done a Dhoom, Garam Masala or a Dostana all my life, I would have succeeded. But I decided to take the path less trodden and did No Smoking and Kabul Express - both of which I am very proud of. I have my own space and I'm going to stay there.
• Bipasha is shooting in Kashmir, are you worried?
I am extremely worried about her security, and I am speaking from my experience of shooting in Afghanistan. I am constantly in touch with her. She's a brave girl and that's what I like about her. As much as we may deny, problems do persist there.
• You both are no more the PDA (public display of affection) couple that you used to be.
We both made sure that we speak about each other as individuals but not about our relationship. We haven't been together for so long, except when she came to New York and Miami when I was shooting there. We've left PDA to others and in a big way.
• You've been juggling between commercial and experimental cinema, though not so successfully.
All my films like Water, No Smoking and Kabul Express had limited acceptance commercially, but they won accolades abroad. I don't have a problem with that because I really like to do that kind of cinema. At the same time I like to be part of films like Dostana.
• Who's hotter, Priyanka or Abhishek?
Priyanka is damn hot, but Abhishek is the man! He is arguably among the most charming simple men that I have come across. He's mischievous but at the same time he doesn't have one bad bone in his body. Had I to do this film with anyone else, I'd never be so comfortable. Imagine two 6 ft plus guys pretending to be gays and doing what we've done.
• Have men hit on you?
If I say yes, it's not going to make news; it's become a way of life. It's a very normal thing to be approached by men, and there's nothing wrong with it. It's how you look at it and be clear where your preferences lie. Most of them were foreigners and they don't know who I am and they go by sheer physicality. They are honest about the way they feel about the way I look, and I think that's special.
• Which man would you go for, if all the women were to disappear?
I go only for Abhishek Bachchan.
• What can a man do for you that a woman can't?
You're asking the wrong person. I really believe that women can do everything.
• You said you like George Clooney.
Yes he is so suave. I'd say that he, Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp really know how to carry themselves.
• Marooned on an island with either of these guys, what would you do?
I'd discuss films. That's all I'd do and nothing more (laughs).
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