Did you make a concerted effort after "Ishq Vishq" to move away from your teenybopper image?
Well, I did work on my physique. But beyond that I never saw my image as a disadvantage. My youthfulness was my USP. But of course I'd like to grow as an actor. Because of my age I can't right now play "Munnabhai" or my father's role in "Maqbool". In fact it would take me a couple of lifetimes to act like my father. He's phenomenal in "Maqbool". I took a very, very long break after "Ishq Vishq" to decide my next move.
So how many films do you have on hand?
I choose very cautiously and yet I'm over-committed. I'll only do two films at a time. Doing one at a time isn't practical. Besides "Fidaa" and "Life Ho To Aisi", I have Boney Kapoor's "Milenge Milenge" with Kareena and Ananth Mahadevan's "Dil Maange More".
I also have a film with John Matthew featuring Ajay Devgan that will start in July. A large part of the film will be shot in a jungle. Then I'm doing an action comedy film with Feroz Nadiadwala. He says this will be his first solo-hero film in years.
How special is your friendship with Kareena Kapoor?
Very, very special. I think she's the best thing to have happened in my life in the last few years - I know I don't have that many years behind me, but enough to know when something special happens. She's one of the nicest human beings I've met. I know her for seven months. And I know her as someone who speaks her mind. And that's why some of her colleagues get a chance to lash out at her. But I like her for her frankness. One can always trust upfront people.
You have two films with Kareena Kapoor. What's it like working with her?
Obviously very enjoyable. She used to go on and on about her two left feet. Fact is she can give anyone a run for his money while dancing. I came to know Kareena before we started shooting. So we had a personal rapport before we came on the sets. When I saw her at work I gained a special respect for her. I've a lot to learn from her. Having done so many films, Kareena is technically very proficient. She knows exactly what she does before the camera. That's something that happens only after years of experience.
I think she was fantastic in "Chameli". After being known to be rich and glamorous, she suddenly transformed into this street wise woman. I was out of the country when "Chameli" released. When I returned I already knew she was fabulous in the film. And yet her performance took me by surprise.
The two of you are very contrasting people.
Well she's temperamental and I'm quite calm. I think that's one of the reasons we get along. Actually we both find qualities in one another that we don't in ourselves possess. And I think we are able to bring out those qualities in each other, that's very important. I enjoyed coming in touch with my impulsive side through her. I'm not an introvert. But yes in the last few years I've begun to take my life and career seriously. I just love acting so much that I don't need to try to be serious about it. It's as enjoyable to me as having ice creams.
Do you get upset when people bitch about Kareena?
I'm someone who believes in being in my own world. I don't care about what people have to say about me. And she should adopt the same attitude. Both of us are so busy with our careers. We can't afford to sit and brood about what people have to say. There's so much more to do. But outspokenness suits her. She's been there, done it all. And she can carry off her frank speak effortlessly. But don't you think she has matured in the last seven months?
What sort of future do you see together?
Hopefully, a long and fruitful future. In seven months I've got to know her so well.
Both of us are looking at a permanent relationship. Neither of us is frivolous. We hardly get time together, and whatever time we've, we make sure it's valuably used.