Apart from working on your looks, what were the other details that you worked on for this role?
I read a lot about those times, did a lot of research. But in most of the books there was very little information about Mangal Pandey. The new look is a result of giving Mangal Pandey's character a proper sketch, so that it appears to be a bit more authentic. I performed as my director Ketan Mehta and storywriter Farookh asked me to do.
How did you feel while performing such a strong role?
I really feel very proud that producer Bobby Bedi and director Ketan Mehta selected me for such a role. Working in this movie is like a learning experience for me, because Mangal Pandey is a symbol of freedom. Mangal Pandey is the name of that person who wanted to attain freedom at any cost, the one who symbolizes true passion for freedom... who had the spirit to do something for his nation.
Will you be working only in movies based on themes like freedom and patriotism?
No, nothing of that sort. Mangal Pandey is not only a patriotic movie; it is a period film, which talks about a person who acted as the first spark of revolt against the British for freedom. Mangal Pandey had that fire in him, which helped him to stand up against British rule.
What is the difference between the characters of "Bhuvan" in "Lagaan" and Mangal Pandey?
The two characters are very different from each other; one is a cool-headed chap, while the other is an aggressive character. For other details you have to go and watch the film.
Heard you have also sung in this movie?
Yes, after "Ghulam" I have sung a few lines of a song in this movie too. All went according to the wish of our music director, A.R. Rehman. It is a song on holi, the festival of colours, and it is very different from the one that I sang in "Ghulam". It is because in this song I have tried to sing in melody whereas in "Ghulam" I just spoke out the lines.
After three to four years from "Lagaan", Mangal Pandey is here at the theatres; how much time for the next project?
After "Mangal Pandey" my next release will be "Rang De Basanti". I am planning not to keep such a big gap, but, yes, it will surely take eight months. I am trying to give at least one movie a year to my audience. But I will do only one movie at a time, because I can't work on different projects simultaneously, I am just not comfortable working like this.
Will the Indian audience appreciate your effort?
I am pretty sure that the audiences will appreciate this movie, simply because as a team we have put our heart and soul in this movie. Lyrics, music, dialogues, each and every aspect has been carefully studied and researched. Besides, the movie is based on facts. The audiences will be able to know about a character whose name is known to them, but they really don't know much about him. Mangal is a character, which will fill their hearts with excitement and thrill.