Are you true to life in "Main Hoon Na"?
You can't be true to life in a commercial film because commercial films are untrue to life by their very definition. They sell a dream. We're hoping to re-introduce the genre of masala (mainstream) cinema through "Main Hoon Na".
In a sense, "Main Hoon Na" is your first with a political message?
I disagree. My production "Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani" was about the commercialization of the media. "Asoka"" was about world peace and spiritualism. So as a producer I've made a sociopolitical comment on some level or the other. "Main Hoon Na" also makes a statement.
Earlier you were playing the college student, now you've graduated to pretending to be a college student in "Main Hoon Na".
I'm older, if that's what you mean. I should and am playing my age. I look older and more mature than I did earlier. I hope I'm growing wise as well. I'm still very energetic as an actor. When we were starting "Main Hoon Na", we couldn't get anyone to play the younger brother. I suggested we get Sunny Deol to play the army officer and that I'd play the younger brother. I think it would've worked. I'd put my whole and soul into any part, young or old.
Why was it a problem to cast for the younger brother?
When Farah was choreographing "Kaho Na ...Pyar Ho", she had got Hrithik to agree to play the younger brother. But I thought Farah needed to work on the script more. So her film got delayed. Then Hrithik started doing "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham" (K3G). He even shot for a day. And Hrithik and I had already played brothers in "K3G".If after "Kaho Na...Pyar Hai" and "K3G", Hrithik played my sibling then the script would have to be altered. We needed someone more new. Zayed Khan fitted the bill perfectly. To my delight, he turned out to be a very respectful boy. I like that. He was artless and very likeable. Nowadays one hears horror stories about the behavior of the younger generation. Even Sohail Khan is very respectful. I think it's because of the way they've been brought up. I really like Zayed and his co-star Amrita Rao. "Main Hoon Na" is a big break for both of them.
You sound like an indulgent elder brother.
I do what I do, and I have the experience. I'm also the producer of "Main Hoon Na". I think of Suniel Shetty, Sushmita Sen, Satish Shah as part of my family now. Suniel came into our film a little late. We had first thought of Kamal Haasan and Nana Patekar and Naseeruddin Shah. When Suniel was offered the role he was more than eager. But we had to make sure that his stardom didn't suffer in any way in the transition from black to white.
Both Suniel and Sushmita are really nice. They haven't taken any money. We'll have to find some way of repaying them. When awards are given at the end of the year, I hope Farah Khan and Suniel get theirs. Me? I can live on the awards that I've received for the next 40 years.
"Main Hoon Na" looks very different from "Kal Ho Na Ho"".
That doesn't make "Kal Ho Na Ho" any less of a film. I guess I'm the only actor about whom such questions arise each time I have a new release. How different is "Main Hoon Na"? It's actually a true-blue masala film like Manmohan Desai's cinema. It pays a tribute to the films of the 1970s. To me masala films are a complete genre. To call all commercial films masala is a misconception. I'd define masala films as what Bachchan used to do with Prakash Mehra and Manmohan Desai - caring mother, estranged brothers, the works. Like these films, "Main Hoon Na" takes us on a wild trip. It's a larger-than-life film. But to contemporise the film, my role has been made politically correct.