Hrithik Roshan never disappears. One of the most enduring megastars of the country, Roshan is a story of constant reinvention and bouncing back. What is exemplary is that negativity fails to affect him even when he stands right in the eye of the storm. After back- to-back “acting-driven” roles in Kaabil and Super 30, the man is back with War and his comfortable terrain of guns-kicks-and-muscle. He still looks like a Greek god – something he refuses to acknowledge or pay any importance to – and is ready to match Tiger half-his- age Shroff step for step. The Hrithik Roshan we know, love and drool over, is back.

I want to start out by congratulating you on the super success of Super 30.

Thank you so much.

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I went through your filmography and I noticed the pattern that you always take up films that are acting-driven right after or before films which celebrate your appearance, dance or action. Is this a conscious decision?

(Laughs) Is it true? No, not really. Cause I did Kaabil before Super 30. Kaabil was not like a ‘looks’ film.

Say for instance, between Koi Mil Gaya and Krrish there was Lakshya, then after Kites there was Guzaarish and after Bang Bang you did Mohenjodaro and Kaabil. And now after Super 30, you are doing War.

Accha you mean like sporadically one film and couple of films where the hero vibes come into play, so to speak. Yes, because, I mean, if you ask me I am a fan of that genre. The genre of Dhoom 2, Bang Bang, War. I am actually very very fond of this genre. My first attempt always is to find a film on the lines of that. Having said that, I take up scripts which hit an emotional chord in my system. But my first instinct is to always to find an intelligent action film.

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And also do you feel that sometimes because you know you have to remind people that in being so wowed by your appearance, they shouldn’t fail to take you seriously as an actor?

I don’t think you can actually prove something like that. This is an instinct that actually is a very natural instinct of an artist that you know what kind of films he wants to do and I have always followed my heart. My choices have just been a very basic reflection of the kind of person I am. That’s about it. I’m not trying it on purpose or to prove anything. I am just trying to do my best.

At this point in your career, are you becoming picky with the kind of cinema you want to do?

I am only interested in scripts which ignite me a 100 per cent. Otherwise, the other day, I had a thought that perhaps my attempt is to not do films all. And I never get a chance to find out what I would do if I wasn’t an actor. I am actually very curious to know what kind of person I would have been and what I’d do if I wasn’t an actor. Every now and then I keep finding these amazing scripts and I have to do them so I have not got chance to find them out. You get what I am saying?

Yes, of course. And interestingly, also in the same line, you have launched HRX as an apparel brand. So are these spaces you want to expand into?

I have already expanded into it. HRX is something which has always been within me for many years. And it has found a way to manifest my tangible aspirations. To be able to contribute to the people. The philosophy that HRX stands for is something that I aspired to in my life. And by getting a chance to speak about it and to give people a piece of, you know, what my life has been and in return, hopefully inspire them to do the same.

So Hrithik, talking about cinema, as you mentioned you’re a huge fan of the genre of Dhoom and of Bang Bang. So where did that realization come from? Was it there at the beginning of the career or is it something that came sort of while you were trying different things?

I think it was always within me. I remember when I did the second half of Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai, the cool guy on bike. I really enjoyed it and when I did Dhoom 2, I really enjoyed that as well. And I realized that there is that guy in me and I need to keep expressing him again and again. But for that guy, you will need a very intelligent script and finally I found one in War and it has been a really fantastic experience.

And also, to put this clearly, because of films like these, you have an image of being like this really cool guy, really good- looking, muscular, good at action, good at dance. So when it comes to films like Guzaarish or Super 30, is there a sort of struggle for you? Like it might not go with my image or something like that?

Not at all. I am really not concerned about all this. I am just happy to be able to do and express whatever I can and to be able to find a platform where I can bare my soul. Apart from that, whether being number one or number ten, or competition, all those things don’t really take up space in my mind.

So, tell us, what War is about? What drew you towards the film?

As I said, I was really looking forward to doing one of these action films. And I wasn’t finding a great script. And then when Sid [Siddharth Anand] and Adi [Aditya Chopra] came to me with War, it just exploded in my head. And it is my first film that gave me the chance to play this guy again. It was an instinctive go from the start.

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You are also teaming up with YRF after a while. So what’s that equation like?

YRF is almost like home ground. I trust Adi with everything and it’s really nice to be working with a producer where you are assured that things have been taken care of.

You’re also working with Siddharth Anand again. You worked with him in Bang Bang, which was also his highest grossing film so, how do you find faith in him to helm such an interesting and important project like War?

I have infallible faith in his style of presentation. I think there are very few – in fact, it’s hard to think of filmmakers who can present heroes the way he does. Or locations for that matter, or a scene. There is a certain balance of the commercial and the cool that he has just nailed. He’s really good at that. So yeah, I have complete faith in Sid. And it has been reaffirmed even more through the journey of War.

We’ve also known for some time that Tiger Shroff is taking the Hrithik Roshan genre forward. He’s been a fan. How long have you known him? How’s the equation with him?

Since about 25 years. Yeah. So his dad worked with my dad. And he used to come to set sometimes. I’ve seen him as a kid. And now, when War came to me, I told Adi that I would really love it if Tiger did the film and standing with Tiger will make sure that I’m at my best. He’s so good at what he does.

The digital space is also vast and growing right now. So is that a space you want to invest in?

So, I am open all and any kinds of platforms. And all genres and all kinds of contents. I mean giving an example. My second film was a film called Fiza. So, I mean, I am very cool with doing all kinds of content. I really don’t mind doing a great 10-minute part in a film that stars somebody else if that part excites me. If I get a chance, I am really hoping to do it. Three hero films, ensembles, I am open to all. And digital space is a growing space. And it’s going to be a big part of all our futures. And I am absolutely open. And, in fact, HRX films is looking at content and looking at web series and all kinds of content on all kinds of platforms.

After Kaabil and Super 30, you of course know that mainstream cinema is not content- driven cinema anymore. Are there writers and filmmakers you are looking to work with?

Not specifically. Because in my career, I have worked with big names who came out with disasters. So, the name doesn’t guarantee, it’s the kind of impact it has on you, the joy of doing the film you want to do, the film that you love. That is what is important. There are a lot of filmmakers I would love to work with but what overrides everything else is the script.

So how do you prepare yourself for a role? Because throughout your career you’ve done such a vast variety of them. You know you’ve not really stuck to one role. So what is your process of going forward once you’ve been told what your role and character is about?

I think if I’ve said yes to it then it’s already started to mould me. By the time I get to shooting, it already lives with me. The character grows with me. Throughout the day, I keep thinking about how that guy behaves in the situation I am currently in. Wherever I am. How he gets into the car, how he answers the phone. It’s a little drop in the ocean and I enjoy the process. I think I first get the hair right. It’s a little bit of information that’s not out there. I get comfortable with the hair first and then it all trickles down from there.

Thank you for sharing that. Also we would love to know about your upcoming projects.

After War, I am deciding on my next. I have about 3-4 options. And I am making up my mind. And then there’s Krrish 4 which is definitely on the cards. And it’s taken a bit of a while but now that my dad is good to go we will start working on it again. Apart from that, I am open to all kinds of films. I’m hoping to read some very interesting stuff. But yeah, my next will be something that I will decide from the three scripts in my hand right now.

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Are you also doing Dhoom 4?

NO. (laughs)

I think if I’ve said yes to the film then it’s already started to mould me. By the time I get to shooting, it already lives with me. The character grows with me.

Also, Hrithik, your sons have grown handsomely and it’s always such a delight to see you with them on social media.

Thank you.

So, how are you different as a father from your father?

I am more like… Let’s just say, I am best friends with my kids. I am free with them about everything. And with my father, there’s a lot of respect and admiration. But I would like my kids to think of me as someone they can say anything to. So that I can know them better. I don’t want them to respect me so much that they start pleasing me. If I can do 50% of what my father has done for me, for my kids, I will think of myself worthy enough to be a parent.

 

I am free with my kids about everything. And with my father, there’s a lot of respect and admiration.

The kind of society that you were brought up in is very different from the one that they are growing up in because there’s social media now. There’s media scrutiny. So how do you go around that?

I think that is why I have developed the kind of relationship I have with them. It’s very important
to have communication lines open with your kids nowadays. Earlier, you could still have them in cocoons and protect them but now if you don’t know what’s going on in their lives you can pretty much assume that it’s not a good sign. So, it’s really important to make sure that you are friends with your kids now. And you know you are sharing your life with them and allowing them to share their life and their feelings with you.

This relationship you have with them, would you say it enables them to have that much trust in you that they can come to you with questions regarding anything?

Yes absolutely. I think that is the point. That they should be comfortable in talking about everything to me. In fact, I make sure that they don’t have any inhibitions when it comes to talking about their life with me.

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While you changed how this country works out, how differently do you treat your body now than you did 10 years ago?

It depends on my films. Well I don’t really get attached to six packs. I’m not about that. I know that it’s been made into a big deal in my life. But I am very happy to let go and just be normal in films like Kaabil, Super 30, Koi Mil Gaya and Guzaarish, all these films that I loved doing so much. It’s just an expression of an artist that I aspire to be. So, in fact, now I am more comfortable. So when a film like Super 30 works and you are accepted for more than having the Dhoom 2 shape and stuff, it’s empowering. You know you realize that you need to put your energy to good use and not just into the six pack.

That is why Hrithik, the next question I am going to ask is not a question that a lot of male actors get. You’re one actor who has received accolades for being the best looking man in the country and Asia many times. Have you felt that the way you look is intimidating for people? Or that they have devalued your other talents because of your looks?

No, not really. I haven’t felt like that. I think I made good choices and did some okay work right in the beginning of my career. I think, fortunately, I haven’t been made to feel like that, so that’s a good thing. I should be grateful because it would have been easy to fall into that stereotype. Yeah, you’re right. It’s something to be grateful for.

If you’ve noticed on social media for the past few weeks, there was this trend of people uploading pictures of themselves using the FaceApp where they looked older. So I want to know what you would want your life to look like when you’re 70.

Oh. Wow. That far. I frankly haven’t thought that far. It’s a little bit unnerving to think of where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing at 70. Right now, all I am thinking about is my next few steps and that’s how I‘ve reached where I‘ve reached. I’m here to do a service. And I’m just going to make sure that I keep doing that so I can be of use to my audience. And as long as people allow me, I will. That’s all that anybody needs. A sense of community, a sense of belonging, love and that’s it.

Photographed by Abhay Singh | Art Direction by Tanvi Shah | Fashion Editor Neelangana Vasudeva | Hair by Team Hakim’s Aalim | Makeup by Vijay Palande | Fashion Intern Sheebani Kunde

Interview and Cover Story by Mayukh Majumdar