Until I was five, my father ran the family business, which was a shop in Grant Road called Golden Wafers. At some point, he decided to venture out on his own and become a photographer. He did that till I was around 15 years old. Around then, he also took up theatre and did some great plays, such as I’m not Bajirao, Family Ties and Mahatma vs Gandhi. He was 41 when he started his film career, with an offbeat English film called, Let’s Talk, and then, his Hindi film career started with Munnabhai MBBS. I’ve seen him as a performer since I was born, though. He has always been the performer of the family — a fantastic mimic and singer. He would sing We Are The World while impersonating every singer’s voice, right from Michael Jackson to Tina Turner and Billy Joel.
My father received accolades at an older age, but we still function like a middle-class family. I don’t think the mindset has changed, and the morals and beliefs are intact. My dad started his life with a Kinetic Honda, and that was a big achievement. Today he drives a fancy car, but I’ve never thought of us as an upper-class family, and I’m happy about that. Someday, when my children come along, I’d like to maintain the same tradition. No matter how much fame and money come in, some things shouldn’t change. For instance, he will never give me an inch of relief on punctuality. He’s also quite strict about wasting money. And, it isn’t like he will say no to anything — he will let you waste it and then make you feel bad about it. I remember when the new iPhone had come out, my brother and I jumped to stand in line to buy it. When we came back, we realised we were using a much fancier phone than him. We felt guilty about it.
I definitely see less of him now. In fact, I have gone through two or three months without seeing him, but the bond has never been stronger. The other day, I was sitting at Starbucks with a friend and I reached home at 12 pm. In that time, not only had we spoken five times on the phone, but we also chatted further when I got home. Even if I come home at 6 am, I can’t go to my room without showing my face to him, saying I’m home. He knows everything about my day, and it is not like he has his sources — he will know from me. I’m very happy to spend an evening at home with him to chat and have fights. He’s never been a strict father. We share a friendship, in which I can share anything with him.
On the first day of shooting Student of the Year, I was a nervous wreck. Before I left, my mother wished me good luck. I thought my dad was going to say some wise words that would change the course of my career. All he said was, “Learn your lines.” I thought, “What is this rubbish advice? Obviously I’m going to learn my lines.” It wasn’t until day 60 of the shoot that I realised how important his advice was. What he meant was that you should know your lines so well that at no point do you stop to think what to say next. He showed up on set only once, and it just so happened that it was before my biggest scene. We were both at Film City, and he decided to pop by. I was so nervous that I told Karan [Johar] that I don’t want to watch him. I remember that he started crying, seeing me perform. I thought, “Either I’m really bad or I’m the next Al Pacino.” Today, I have a miniscule amount of experience in the film industry, but my dad and I have started doing a lot of line readings together. If he’s preparing for a role, he also runs his ideas past us.
My dad and I are also PlayStation buddies. If he’s in town, we play the FIFA every day. It is a mania with him, more than me. All our fights are Playstation related – I can’t remember fighting with him about any another issue. We joke that my mother is like a bookie. If my dad has had a tough schedule, or if he’s exhausted, she will message saying ‘Let him win this game’.
This story originally appeared as part of a special issue in June 2015, where Man’s World Magazine got popular people from different walks of life to talk about their equally popular fathers.