Ruslaan, in real life you come with quite an impressive physique. So what did you do to look so different in Teree Sang?
I had to actually go through a complete makeover as far as my looks, physique and wardrobe were concerned. For Teree Sang, I had to lose a lot of weight. Since Sheena (Shahabadi) is practically a kid, I had to look innocent too. More so because I was playing the role of a 17 year old boy who could impregnate a girl by mistake. It was imperative that audiences are led to believe that this guy is someone who can commit a mistake. So he had to be simple and quite naive, something that can be projected only if the look and presentation is correct. He couldn't have been shown as a cool dude because then his character wouldn't have been believable at all.
Please carry on...
This boy is so sweet and simple that the girl keeps bullying him but he still never minds. She calls him a duffer but he only smiles. He is someone who is just not pretentious at all. He comes from a poor family and when he visits Sheena's house for the first time, his eyes pop out by witnessing just the sheer magnitude of the mansion where she lives. He is very vocal about his emotions as well but when it comes to the moment of decision making (when he accidentally gets the girl pregnant), he doesn't shy away from his responsibilities. He could have said that it's the girl who actually pushed him into the act but he never does that. He supports her whole heartedly.
There have been interesting stories floating around how you were selected for the role. I have heard that Satish Kaushik was not really keen to cast you even though you were quite persistent.
What you have heard is half correct and half incorrect (laughs). It isn't as if Satish Kaushik wasn't keen to cast me. He actually wanted me for the role since he was quite impressed with my screen test. However, he wanted a new boy for the role and I had already signed Robby Grewal's MP3 - Mera Pehla Pehla Pyaar. He asked me if I could leave MP3 but that wasn't possible for me. 6 months passed by and he still hadn't found his boy (laughs). So I approached him again and told him that he would never find a better boy than me to play this role. He again said no to me but surprisingly whenever there were any auditions for different girls who were being looked for the role, he would call me. Finally, I got to know that someone else was taken for the hero's role.
That must have been heartbreaking...
You bet! Here I was coming week after week hoping that he would finally be convinced and there he went on to take some other boy. Thankfully there were so many other people who had seen the auditions. People from his own family and Bharat Shah (who is producing the movie) - everyone was sure that I was the guy for the role. As was destined, they didn't take either the boy or the girl whom they had selected first. Ultimately Sheena and I were signed on.
What happened to that boy who was finalized before you?
That guy is now an aspiring director actually. He was a very sweet guy and I completely believe that he was also very apt for the role. In fact he was just himself when he walked in for the audition and that was the very reason why he was selected in the first place. I observed him quite carefully since for me, he was the reference point for the boy I had to play on screen. I had to just wear the kind of loose clothes that he was wearing, get an appearance like him and adapt his mannerisms.
You must be pining a lot of hopes on Teree Sang?
See, box office is important but then it is at the end of the day quite secondary. As long as I can have DVDs of 10 of my films ready and I can show them to people who matter, it is great. That should be my goal as of now. I am a newcomer and not really in a position to decide where I would be in a few years from now. Ultimately Teree Sang is a Satish Kaushik film and that by itself should be good enough to pull in audiences.