I Am Not My Biceps & My Six Pack: Hrithik Roshan
Hrithik Roshan recently shed his starry Greek God onscreen image to don the role of Anand Kumar, in the biopic on the mathematician and teacher, in Super 30. The film was shrouded in controversy and chatter around its release, and so was Hrithik. So the film’s success couldn’t be sweeter for the actor.
In this week’s episode of our entertainment podcast, Reel Deal, Hrithik Roshan talks about why Super 30 and Kaabil are the films he is proudest of, his growth as an actor, and being more than just his six-pack abs. He also reveals how his kids rate his films.
Tune in to the podcast here.
There was so much chatter, so many controversies around Super 30 at the time of release. Do you feel relieved and redeemed that the film has got the audience approval?
Yes. Not for those reasons, but because of all the work that has gone in. Most important thing is films should reaffirm your faith so you get more empowered to do more or do better. And that’s what happened with Super 30. I knew that there was something that I gave to this film which was coming from a very very honest space, and there was a lot of effort to see to it that this films entertains as well as inspires. And to know that we have managed to do that is a big thing. And it’s a big relief. I feel content. I feel happy and also overwhelmed because I did not expect such a unanimous reaction. Reaction has been completely unanimous so that is something that I didn’t expect.
Before the film’s release I wrote that I was skeptical about you being in this film and in this role. After watching the film I felt your performance was surprising and refreshing. What did you do differently in this film?
Oh nothing, actually. I didn’t do anything differently. The way a person does one thing will be the way he does everything in life. The process you apply, the mechanism of the mind, the way he applies something to work or to whatever he or she does will actually be the same. Just applied the same process that I applied for Kaabil or I did in any of my other films like Koi Mil Gaya. So this shedding of the exterior, good-looking sharp, six-pack abs, biceps I have done many times in my life. And I think that comes from a space where I don’t give it importance. I am not my biceps, not my six packs. I am ok to be without it. I don’t have any ego about it. It’s not something that makes up my person. I give preference to my mind and the soul, the spirit, the heart - that carries more weight, than the exterior of how you look.
Why I asked you this question about what you did differently is also because I felt like you held back a lot more this time.
That is growth. As I keep saying I am still an aspiring actor (in) every film of mine, every shot. I am trying to get better. I am trying to reach into those areas in my mind where I can find more composure, more relaxation just before the leap into the take, into the shot, when the director says action. So all that is a process. It’s a process where I am always aspiring. And I think the two films that I am most proud of in that regard have actually been my last two films. Kaabil and Super 30 are two films where I truly felt the flight of actor. I really really enjoyed that.
There was a two and a half year between these two films and obviously you spent a lot of time getting into this character. It was a lot more alien to you.
I didn’t take two and a half years. I took two and a half months... believe me! But the film got delayed by about six-seven months. And that was just not in my hands.
I want to talk to you about two scenes in the film - one when your character gets through Cambridge and the other, the last scene where all your students get into IIT. It’s surprise, joy and tears perhaps in that order, in both. How did you replicate the exact same emotion and scene.
I am so glad that people are asking me this question. And I am so happy that I don’t really have an answer. Happy because it came from such an honest space that it looked as if I have planned it. But I probably was I guess... what I would like to say, even if it is saying it myself, I felt that character so beautifully and so well that it just made sense. After I saw what I did, it made sense because that’s the only way he would have reacted because of his character. That is his consistency. But it happened automatically.
So there was no brief to do that?
No it was not. The moment I felt... Because I had done those two and a half months of breaking down my body language because I had sat down like this many many times. It was a language that had become inherent in my system. So when he was breaking down... you know when you break down you want to sit down, you want to take some support. So this became a natural thing for him to do is to go down. This was also something that was a leap of faith. Because in a climax when everything has been won should you take that much time? Should you just react and be happy? Should you just explode? Is it ok to just waste all this time for this reaction? Will the audience get bored and be like what is he doing? So all these thoughts were also there. But I still had to follow my heart. I had no choice.
The protagonist is not saying or doing much in the climax, but reacting to what’s happening.
In my head I had seen audience in the theatre getting up and leaving while I am crying. I thought ki yahaan pe uthne wale hain (I thought they’ll get up here). Sab paas ho gaye, sab ho gaya. Jeet gaye abhi, ye royega abhi. Theek hai chalo ghar chalte hain. But I am a sucker for good films and I think even if the audience leaves I know that I did my best to make a good film, according to me.
What was Anand Kumar’s reaction when he saw the film?
I was overwhelmed by his reaction. I didn’t even realise it meant so so much to him. So when he reacted, in fact he picked the exact two shots that you spoke of. When he was talking I just... was tearing up. I didn’t want to get embarrassed so I was fighting those tears and having a big smile on my face. And being very cool about it. I realised that it really mattered. His reaction was phenomenal.
How did your children react to the film?
Phenomenally well. I was very shocked. They said they cried. They consider it my best film so far, which is saying a lot. They are good critics of my films.
Do they give you honest opinion or are they biased?
Yeah yeah. Like Mohenjo Daro they gave 6.5. Kaabil they gave 9. Super 30 they gave 10. Full marks.
There was a long break between Kaabil and Super 30, but your next release is coming soon. Super 30 and War are two diametrically opposite films. Going into War, do you feel this is a little easy for me.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages. When I started doing War, in one way it was a load off because I didn’t need to prepare as much as I had to when I was playing Anand Sir. So there was too much preparation. I knew there is a lot of craft involved when you do a film like War, Dhoom 2. So there is a lot of craft also involved. It makes your life easier. But you have to get into shape. You have to get into the mould of that star. You have to look a certain way. And that, trust me, is 10 times more difficult than trying to be that good actor, because the discipline, lifestyle, diet, exercise can take up your entire day, 24 hours. It leaves you with nothing to live.
Especially since you lost weight for Super 30.
It’s a fallacy that he is out of shape that means he has lost weight. I had lost muscle and gained fat. So weight actually goes up. And for War I had to lose the fat and gain muscle. So it’s diametrically opposite. And very difficult to do.
Super 30 is also essentially about overcoming hurdles, whether it is poverty, confidence of English language skills. You do you draw on these personal experiences when you do scenes like these?
All that an actor can do or a creative person - a painter, an actor - all we can do is express what they have experienced in their lives. My interpretation of any dialogue comes from the life that I’ve lived. And that is where individuality comes through. Every individual interpret a dialogue comes from the life I have lived. And that is where individuality comes through. Every actor will interpret or say a dialogue in a different way depending on where he is coming from, what experiences, what environments he’s been through. So yes, of course that’s inherent.
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