"Paheli" and "Sarkar" are special because you worked with Amol Palekar and Ramu for the first time. How was Palekar as a director?
Ramu was a first timer for me. But I have been admiring his work for long...and interacting with him for several years...so it did not seem as though we were working for the first time. He is passionate about films, their making, their history and has incredible memory and knowledge of films gone by. This creates an almost nonchalant and relaxed atmosphere. Everyone on the sets knows exactly what to do. Ramu spends intimate time with the artistes to explain what he desires and then mostly leaves it to the artiste.
"Paheli" was a one-scene experience...too short to form and give any comments. But Amol is an accomplished actor and translating that quality to a film that he directs makes him an accomplished director. He brings the same sensibilities that he is so renowned for in his acting.
How's Shah Rukh Khan as a producer and co-star?
Gregarious, large-hearted and extravagant as a producer...and very focussed and considerate as a co-star.
Your comments on your look in "Sarkar".
It's something Ramu and I worked on jointly...Surprisingly, there was unanimity in the choice and style and colour almost immediately. We did not waste too much time on it...and it worked! It looked striking from day one and helped immensely in the characterization of "Sarkar". It is my belief that when things are meant to be going right they start going right from the smallest of things, the look being a small but important one.
Abhishek shared space with you in "Bunty Aur Babli", "Sarkar" appears far more intense?
Yes "Bunty Aur Babli" was fun and light, smart, witty and laidback. "Sarkar" is intense, quiet, introspective, dramatic and yet emotional...And how wonderful that the same two artistes can get such a contrasting performing opportunity within such a short span. And father and son together in both. I couldn't ask for more...truly blessed.
Apparently there's a lot more of you together, and you also play father-son. Was it easy to play real-life roles, or was it slightly disconcerting and disorienting?
In front of the camera, Abhishek and I are two professional artistes trying to give their best...nothing disconcerting or disorienting about it.
Ramu says Abhishek is a better actor than you. Your comments?
He must have his reasons...and he must be right. But what a terrific compliment for me as a father...For that matter, any father in the world. It's a moment of greatest pride when the son out-excels his father.
Do you think "Sarkar" will add to his stature?
Yes, I believe it will add immensely to Abhishek's stature as an actor, more so, as I said earlier, because it comes soon after "Bunty...". Not many young actors get contrasting opportunities like this in such a short span of time. It's wonderful that Abhishek got it.
But somewhere it also shows the confidence of the respective makers in the actor. Two different directors from two different schools and ideologies seeing something different in the same actor and then going ahead to manifest this difference on screen.
You sound very emotional.
For Abhishek, who was loaded with expectations and crushed under the burden of successive failures, to suddenly find himself as the chosen one is god's benevolence and the incumbent vagaries of this profession. In "Sarkar", Abhishek truly comes into his own.
Your character in "Sarkar" is modelled on a real-life personality. Do you like playing biographical characters?
No, it is not modelled after any real life character.