Your role in "Charas" reminds me of Marlon Brando in Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now".
Yes, there's an element of that. I play a man disillusioned with the establishment who sets up his own empire in the wilderness. But he isn't really unhappy. I'm tired of playing unhappy characters. Somehow my directors associate me with anti-establishment roles. I'd love to explore other areas as an actor.
You got a lot of acclaim for Tigmanshu Dhulia's previous film "Haasil"?
I share a great rapport with Tigmanshu. "Haasil" was based on his own experiences in his home in Uttar Pradesh. Tigmanshu's new film "Charas" is entirely fictitious. "Charas" isn't a typical formula film. But it has elements of a Hollywood thriller. While in "Haasil", I was the dark horse, in "Charas", Jimmy Shergil, Uday Chopra and I share equal importance. The way Tigmanshu writes the scenes, there's room for every actor to have a say.
You do seem to be of more interest to the viewer than your co-stars in "Charas".
Yes, my experience as an actor counted in imparting nuances to my character. But you can't say I've stolen the show from my co-stars. In fact, when I saw the finished film I was deeply moved by Jimmy's performance. Even Namrata Shirodkar surprised me. She's very, very good.
Do you think "Charas" will build on the clout you've acquired after "Haasil" and "Maqbool"?
It certainly won't reduce it. It can only build on my reputation. After "Haasil", I was being seen as suitable only for negative roles. After "Maqbool", they changed their mind. It isn't as though I'm flooded with offers. But it has made an impact. I got Pooja Bhatt's "Rog" because of "Maqbool".
What is "Rog" about?
It's a mystery thriller. It has an element of eroticism in it. My co-star is a girl called Eileen. We first saw her picture on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine and were bowled over. She's very, very attractive. My character gets drawn to this girl and he starts losing grip on himself. He's on a mission. But he can't concentrate on his work because of his fatal attraction for this girl. "Rog" will be directed by music-video maker Ayush. Very sincere.
What about the film on the Telgi scam?
Yes, I was supposed to do a film on the scam for producer Pooja Bhatt. But then Mahesh Bhatt decided to wait to see the outcome of the court case... Actually the Bhatts took a shine to me at a time when I was looking out for someone to pull me into mainstream currents. I did "Kasoor" and "Gunaah" for them. They called me for other roles, which didn't suit me. We share a very clear-cut relationship. I love Pooja's professionalism. "Rog" is to start in July. And they've already got all their pre-production in place.
Anything else that excites you?
Yes, Tigmanshu Dhulia's next film, "The Killing Of A Porn Filmmaker". It's a very interesting thriller about the life of a filmmaker who ends up making blue films. At a certain point in the story it becomes a spiritual thriller. It then becomes a journey of his redemption. It's a film that hinges on my character. It will have an element of pornography in it. I'm sure Tigmanshu will shoot it tastefully. Actually he shot a love scene in "Haasil" with me. He got so embarrassed doing it that he finally edited it out of the film. The only passionate film I've done is "Maqbool", and now maybe "Rog".
You're now the central character in several films!
I'm glad filmmakers have the faith in me to make films that revolve around me. There're many stories swimming in my head. And unless I make a place for myself in the film market I won't be able to implement those ideas. "Maqbool" is my breakthrough film. I'm now off to London for the Commonwealth Film Festival where "Maqbool" is the closing film. I want to meet my agent for a possible career in international cinema. I couldn't really consolidate my career abroad in spite of the success of Asif Kapadia's "The Warrior".