Hrithik Roshan has beaten physical disability to reach where he is today. And no compromises ' personal or otherwise ' for this gifted actor when he is on the sets
His is quite an inspirational story. Despite physical disorders, the most recent ?one being an emergency brain surgery, he has never whined ' like most actors do ' about his continuous struggle against the odds, ranging from backaches to grievous injuries sustained while performing death-defying stunts.
He insists on performing those perilous dives, leaps and combats although they could be assigned to a body double. That's Hrithik Roshan, pet-named Duggu. He's 39-years-old, with a score of 18 films in a career spanning 14 years.
He was a fresher, with the stupendously successful Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai still to be released, when he acted in Fiza, a film I wrote and directed. In the course of the action scenes, he would often end up with wounds and gashes, but wouldn't pack up for the day. A first-aid medical kit would be kept ready for him. The action director Shyam Kaushal was extra-careful to ensure that Hrithik was kept away from harm's way. Still, minor injuries were unavoidable.
Also, it was apparent that the actor keeps his mental equanimity in crises. The day after his father, actor-producer-director Rakesh Roshan, was shot at by underworld elements, he still reported on the sets, saying, "Dad is out of ?danger. He'll be fine. So guys, let's get to work." On another occasion, tension was in the air at our location spot, a graveyard. It could have turned violent because of hostility between two ?neighbourhood rival groups. Hrithik remained mint-cool, sitting in his car, "What can they do? At worst, they'll kill us. Big deal!"
That was startling coming from an actor, half the average age of the ?about-to-panic technical crew. Later I understood why. He has taken physical impediments, as they came right from the time he was a six-year-old and couldn't speak without a pronounced stammer. Before taking to a profession, in which speech impairment is taboo ' he rectified the stammer to a large extent ' and was particular about dubbing his dialogue flawlessly.
Few know that Hrithik Roshan has suffered from a double slipped disc ever since he was in school. When that was diagnosed, he was instructed never to exert himself, perhaps for the rest of his lifetime. Although the aches persisted, the pre-teen boy established a reputation for being a super dancer, winning prizes at the Bollywood star children birthday parties, where his rivals would be the likes of Aditya Chopra, Karan Johar and Abhishek Bachchan, in their pre-teen years.
Although he was expected to travel to the US for a Master's degree, the economics graduate opted to stay at home to initiate an acting career, a decision which was met with scepticism by his parents. Hrithik had made impressive appearances in his father's films as ?a child actor (particularly Bhagwan Dada), besides serving as an assistant director, but tended to be painfully shy and self-effacing.
How he sculpted his body into shape and how he has coped with his frequent acute slipped disc pains, are a story which only he can detail ' if he choo-ses to pen an autobiography some day. Currently, he sources his physical ?agility to a strict regimen of exercise, supervised by a trainer at his gymnasium at home. It couldn't be easy, but he isn't talking except to mention that a couple of years ago, he had developed body flab, but got a hold of himself, and was back in shape.
The brain surgery, last month, ?followed sudden sharp headaches after ?a blow on the head sustained during ?a stunt sequence in Phuket, Thailand, for Bang Bang, an acknowledged ?Indian remake of the Tom Cruise-?Cameron Diaz thriller Knight and Day. A fortnight later, the impact of the ?ill-timed dive surfaced, leading to the emergency operation.
Characteristically, the actor wasn't unduly perturbed as he was wheeled into the surgery room. His wife Sussa-nne, parents Rakesh and Pinky Roshan and sister Sunaina couldn't hold back their tears: what if he was debilitated or required a long spell of recuperation? Hrithik's two sons, Hrehaan and Hridhaan, were kept away from the glare of the media, which had camped outside the hospital.
Post-surgery, Hrithik was hospitalised for less than a week, to return for a week-long recuperation, and then to resume life as usual. Consequently, the first look of Krrish 3 was unveiled, at a splashy media event.
Rakesh Roshan has stated that this time, the super-hero Krrish will lose ?his super-powers and strive to retrieve them while clearing Herculean obstacles created by a fearsome villain, being played by Viveik Oberoi. Indeed, that sounds a bit like the actor's tribulations. Except that in real life, there have been no villains.
Back on his feet, knowing Duggu, it's hardly likely that he will quit taking risks while performing stunts in the future. To that, all I can say is okay, ?answer the demands of the acting ?profession. But do take care. Isn't life more precious than the movies?