Is it true you've overnight replaced Aishwarya in Rohan Sippy's new film?
Overnight? Such things don't work like that. I was offered the role opposite Abhishek. Since I had the free time because of Hrithik's accident and since I had never worked with Abhishek before, I jumped at the idea. They first spoke to me because of my free dates after the cancellation of "Krissh". Then they narrated the film to me. And that's it.
"I had no idea about Aishwarya. When I get a role, I look at its intrinsic worth, not who might've done it. Once I got to know Aishwarya was a candidate, I tried to contact her to clear the air. She's a senior and a fantastic actress. I respect her a lot. I'd never do something underhand like stealing her role. Because I wouldn't like anyone do that to me. I didn't think there was anything unprofessional about doing Rohan's film.
Your new release "Yakeen" was a disaster.
Why do you say that? It was a terrific thriller with twists and turns to the end. I wouldn't have done it if I didn't have faith in it. I do whatever I sign with honesty. Whether a film does well or not is never in my hands. I go to my films without box-office expectations. "Yakeen" has a lot of scope for performance.
Actually, this trend of meaty roles started with "Mujhse Shaadi Karogi", my first solo hit and definitely a turning point. "Aitraaz" proved I can act. Now, I've a reputation to live up to. Incidentally I'm back with Salman Khan in Rumi Jaffrey's comedy. The script is funny. And I love the way it's being shot...
And now I have (Rohan Sippy's) "Bluff Master". I again get to play someone different what I've done so far.
Do you have a tough time getting meaty roles in this male-centric industry?
Not that tough any longer. People realise that women can be actors and not decorative dolls. I'm getting a lot of films with a great deal of scope to perform, and I'm grateful for that. In a film like (Farhan Akhtar's) "Don" which has Shah Rukh Khan in the lead I'm also a part of the main action.
Will you follow Zeenat Aman's performance in the original "Don"?
We're trying to make our own "Don" but keeping in mind the original plot. "Don" is starting in February. I definitely want to portray my character Roma differently from the way Zeenatji has done. She's a toughie with revenge on her mind.
I'm really excited about working with Shah Rukh... and of course Hrithik in "Krissh". Working with him has made me more focused as an actor, and it's helping me with my other performances. Hrithik believes in giving his all to every shot.
Do you have as much to do in "Krissh" as Preity Zinta had in "Koi...Mil Gaya"?
Of yes! In fact, a lot more! My character is integral to the plot. You wouldn't expect that in a film that has the father and son as director and leading man. I'm lucky to be in it. Again, though (Suneel Darshan's) "Barsaat" has another leading lady Bipasha Basu, I still have a lot to do.
ou did fairly unbecoming things in Suneel Darshan's "Andaaz"?
I don't do any of those unbecoming things in "Barsaat", and I've a much bigger role. I guess I've grown wiser. I refuse to be undignified in my private and public conduct. But let me tell you while I was doing "Andaaz", I never realized it was anything vulgar. After I saw the film, I knew I had to take a stand about what to do and not do.
You've worked with Kareena in "Aitraaz" and Bipasha in "Barsaat", who fought in "Ajnabee".
I don't understand why. They're both such nice people. And I had a great time working with both. Kareena and I got along very well during "Aitraaz". And now, during "Barsaat", I found Bipasha very, very sweet. She's very real, and I like that.
What happened to (J.P. Dutta's) "Umrao Jaan"?
I'm not doing that any longer. I was definitely looking forward to doing "Umrao Jaan". It's a character I always wanted to play. But I couldn't give JP saab the number of dates that he wanted. He wanted 90 dates at a stretch this year.
I believe Aishwarya Rai is doing "Umrao Jaan". She'd make a really good Umrao. I'm happy she's coming together with JP saab. Destiny has strange ways. I'd definitely like to work with JP saab in the near future... On the brighter side, I'm doing a period film for Pritish Nandy Communications where I play an immortal character.
Isn't it premature for you to be going into the classics?
When I did "Aitraaz", people said it was too early for me to tackle something so complex. But that's what I do. I take up challenges and then I try to deliver. It's just two years into my career. But I feel I've been around much longer.