Is it true that you refused to take the Rs.10-million remuneration that Shah Rukh Khan offered you for "Paheli"?
It wasn't Rs.10 million, but Rs.5 million. And why should I charge any money from Shah Rukh? He's a friend. When he asked me to do a small role in "Paheli", I immediately agreed. These are little gestures that one makes for friends. Paise to aate hi rehenge (money keeps coming). Where does money come into it?
After the three-day shooting, Shah Rukh came to hug me with a bouquet and an envelope. I didn't pay any attention to it until I got into my car. I thought the envelope contained a letter of thanks. But when I opened it, to my surprise, I found a cheque that was totally unacceptable to me.
But you're in the film because you add substantially to its profit potential.
Kuch bhi ho, yaar (whatever you say)! Some things are done for emotions. I did "Kaante" for Sanjay Dutt, and there was no question of money. How could I forget that it was Sanjay's mother, (late) Nargis Dutt, who brought me to Mumbai? She arranged my first screen test.
How could I forget how wonderful (late) Sunil and Nargis Dutt were to me when I was a newcomer lost in the city? I never forget these gestures. I choose to forget things that are not relevant to my life. And for people who have played even the smallest hand in my growth as a human being and an actor, such tokens of appreciation are always a pleasure for me.
There are many instances of you foregoing your remuneration, including for "Black".
There was never any question of money exchanging hands for "Black". Right from the start, I knew I was doing it for the love of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's cinema. When he came to me with the script, I knew something very special was going to happen on screen. And it did. To even think about money in a film like this is an unbearable thought to me.
But surely now when "Black" is declared a hit, the producer should pay you?
Not at all! The thought hasn't crossed my mind. "Black" is too special to be weighed against monetary considerations. Like I said, there are many situations where I've put in appearances (in films) because friends have asked me to. Money has never been an issue.
For me, my true reimbursement as an artiste is when Shah Rukh goes up on stage at the Filmfare awards and says that for him a power-performance is Amitabh Bachchan in "Black". What more can I want?