Your new film "Deewaar" is an ensemble piece. What made you choose it?
Quite honestly, I decided to do "Deewaar" because it was an adventure film. I love that genre but we never make those in Hindi. I wanted to be part of such a film. I thought it was a very decent script. It shaped up very well. It's also got a great emotional impact.
I don't think every film one does has to be performance-oriented. I enjoyed working with Amitabh Bachchan and Sanjay Dutt. I hardly have scenes with Amitji. That's sad, because I'd have loved to work more with him. But I thoroughly enjoyed working with Sanju. Both of them are wonderful co-stars. They're such fun to be with. I could hardly have asked for more.
Why so little of you in the movies?
I love nothing more than more work. There's nothing I enjoy more than acting. But I can't do a film I'm not happy with. My unhappiness is bound to show. I have to be comfortable with the people I work with. I'm trying to make the right choices. Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you don't. At the end of the day, it's my choice and I stand by it.
But in a quantity-driven industry, it's suicidal to be so scarce.
I think it's a fallacy to see the film industry as being quantity-driven. People would prefer to see me in one good film rather than four bad films a year. I also disagree with you when you say the industry is quantity driven.
Filmmakers are increasingly looking at making quality productions. I really enjoyed "Koi...Mil Gaya" and "Lakshya". I think "Lakshya" is a huge step in the right direction. Of course that's just one director, Farhan Akhtar, doing what comes naturally to him. Every filmmaker and actor should be doing what he thinks is right.
The comedy "Hungama", which you did last, hardly looks like a quality driven choice.
I did it primarily because of director Priyadarshan. I really enjoyed working with him. After "Dil Chahta Hai", "Deewangee" and "Humraaz", I needed to go into another blithe route.
Since my films have been successful, I guess I'm choosing well. Though right or wrong is entirely subjective. I choose something when I instinctively feel I should be part of it. I had no illusions about "Hungama". While getting into it I knew it was an ensemble piece. I knew it wouldn't be 'my' film. That didn't bother me. I knew it would work big time as soon as I heard the script.
Is commercial success important for you?
Extremely. It's different with non-commercial cinema. You do those with a different expectation. But whatever I do I've to believe in it.
Now you're doing another comedy with Priyadarshan.
That's a total fallacy. "Hulchal" is not a sequel to "Hungama". Nor is it a comedy. Sure, it's hilarious in parts. Without sounding arrogant, I'd like to say people are going to love "Hulchal". It's a full masala film. It's one of the most wonderful scripts I've come across.
You seem to have developed a new respect for commercial success.
It was always there. Maybe your perception of the way I look at my projects seems different because we're speaking after a long time. In the interim I've evolved as an actor. As a professional I've changed a lot. I understand the business of cinema much better. I understand people and myself better.
Are you still moody?
I think it's the people who found me moody who have changed. I'm the same.
Are you very hard on your performances?
Excruciatingly so. I've never been satisfied with any of my performances. I thought I was average in some.
You and Hrithik Roshan seem to share a common passion for turning down offers.
Ha, ha! He's doing what he thinks is right. So am I. My only film is "Hulchal", which is a Diwali release. I'm looking at scripts all the time. Otherwise it's a routine life. I spend my free time twiddling my thumbs. I watch a lot of films. I've seen the lowest levels in my career. I've learnt to be cautious.
Are you going to be in the film your brother Rahul Khanna is directing?
He isn't directing a film. But when he does, I'll certainly be in it. Come on! He's my brother!