Do the expectations from your second film scare you?
I guess all eyes are on my "Lakshya" now. Very honestly, I've done what I wanted to. Considering the size and scope of the project and the space it occupied in my life, there was no opportunity to look anxiously over my shoulder. Now I can think about the pressures, and of course they are there. The pressures are more critical... This time I need to deliver a critical and commercial success.
There are many war films being made. Where do you fit in?
I don't know. If you are speaking about the genre, I'd say "Lakshya" looks very different from the other war films. It has an army background. But it isn't a war film. To slot it as a war film would be wrong.
What are you inspired by?
My sources of inspiration are not films but individuals, like Robert de Niro -- the way he sketches his characters out is very exciting to watch. De Niro is definitely an actor I'd like to work with. Francis Ford Coppola, Guru Dutt, Ramesh Sippy and, of course, Mr Bachchan are my other sources of inspiration.
Do you have acting aspirations yourself?
Well, I did read about how Farah Khan wanted to sign me for "Main Hoon Na". That was the first time I heard of my acting aspirations. On some level I was very pleased and also upset -- pleased because she thought of me and upset because I was her last option. I've been offered acting roles. But it isn't something that I can consider right now. I don't have the confidence or talent to be an actor.
Maybe you can save money by casting yourself next?
I'd rather spend money and make a good film.
Weren't you tempted to work with the "Dil Chahta Hai" team all over again?
I still am. I had as much fun working with Aamir Khan, Akshaye Khanna and Saif Ali Khan in "Dil Chahta Hai" as I had with my cast in "Lakshya". "Dil..." was a much easier film to make. We worked in an easygoing atmosphere where any of us could bond any time.
The kind of bonding that happened during "Lakshya" was very different. We were thrown into a locale (Ladakh) and a situation where we were completely cut off. I wouldn't say it was difficult. But it was tough. There was high stress on certain days. Some got ill, some were homesick and snappy. Everyone had to be fully prepared with the lines as, apart from the battle scenes, we had live sound.
Is Preity Zinta's character of a TV journalist inspired by Barkha Dutt?
Not really. But when you speak of a female media journalist on the field Barkha comes to mind. Both Preity and I agreed Barkha was the right person to shape her character. She's been extremely helpful in moulding Preity's character. But the cropped haircut was Preity's idea.
Farah Khan says women as directors make girlie films. Will your sister Zoya make one of those?
I don't know what that means. Zoya is a female. So her film "Luck By Chance" would have a feminine outlook.
How important is the music to "Lakshya"?
As important as it was in "Dil Chahta Hai". With Dad being the writer, the lyrics and hence the music are part of the narrative.
Why that strange hairstyle for Hrithik?
It was important for him to break away from his image. You've seen him in so many films, magazine covers... you name it. In "Lakshya" he plays a character. To deliver a performance, Hrithik is very dependent on what the director wants. It's all there for the director to tap into. He definitely wants to give his best. So at times he pushes himself more than required for a shot. Hrithik is a very sincere actor.
"Dil Chahta Hai" turned Saif's career around?
He could've wasted the opportunity that he got after "Dil Chahta Hai". But he handled his career very well thereafter. He chose very intelligently.
I know of no other family except yours where everyone is into direction or scripting.
Yes, I think Shabana Azmi too will direct a film. She's assisting Aparna Sen on her first Hindi film. One reason why I haven't gone to her with any acting part is because I respect her too much as an actor.
She could've played Dimple's role in "Dil Chahta Hai"?
No. Dimple was the foregone conclusion for that. She was really good. Sadly, at some level Dimple's performance got ignored.
You are far more media savvy now than you were during "Dil Chahta Hai".
You think so? I don't know... During "Dil Chahta Hai" the film, not me, was the focus of media attention. But now I'm the focus of attention. Even earlier, I dressed, did my hair and spoke the way I do. I guess I am more noticed now, that's all because I'm seen in media-related social dos.