You've been away for a while, what's going on?
Uhh...I like to take my breaks once in a while you know, it's good to do that.
Your fans have been waiting, and with Road, Movie coming up, they're expecting you to give them something different all over again. Are you ready to face the expectations?
It's as different as different can get. I shot Dev D, Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye, and Road, Movie back to back. As different as Dev D is from Oye Lucky, same way Road, Movie is different from Oye lucky as well as Dev D. So the effort is there. As people are expecting me to be different from my earlier films, I am sure they are not going to be disappointed because it is different for sure. When you watch the movie you'll understand what I mean.
How did this project come your way?
I was in New York as my film Manorama Six Feet Under was playing at a festival there and I bumped into Dev Benegal. He said 'I saw your film and it was really good' and I thanked him when he said that he has something for me that he would like to speak to me about. And I knew Dev from Split Wide Open because I saw the film when it came out and I knew English August but I hadn't seen it. So this is why I was keen on working with him and he had a great script. I read it when I was shooting for Oye Lucky and said yes to it.
Was there any personal reason you took this journey up?
Well I like travelling and as the name suggests it is a Road, Movie so it's on the road. I like the idea of being just out there in Rajasthan, away from civilisation. It's not shot necessarily in Jaisalmer or Jodhpur, though we did shoot a bit in Jodhpur but most of it was out in the dessert and that idea was intriguing, not only that but the plot of the film was nice. Dev was somebody I wanted to work with and he had a great team, so yea there are many reasons why I did this film.
Tell us what's your character in the film like?
He's from a small town, a city you can say, pretty urban, but not a metropolis like Mumbai or, like Delhi or anything. He's somebody who just wants to be out there, experience new adventures, and maybe have a different life. But he is not a rebellious sort of a guy, he is not someone who will stand up for what he really wants to do, and fight for it...No! In fact he is someone who is humble and towered down by the way he has been raised. That is what I really liked about the character. Without being rebellious, without being in your face, he finds an opportunity for an adventure and takes it up.
It's interesting how all the characters you've played have a shade of grey in it, they aren't just good guys and bad guys.
I think none of us are good or bad right? People in general, nine on ten, are not all black or white. They all have shades of grey. In fact I would say all 10 are like that. That's what attracts me to the characters in the script that have that. It's more believable, when you see that in life everyday.
So how different is this character from what you are in real life? Did you have to work on the feel of this character?
Everything has to be worked on a little bit, to know the thought process behind it. You can do a workshop on it. Dev that way was easy to work with because he's very similar to the way I work. I also try and tend to use my present state of mind, you know, sometimes you are in a state of mind or frame of mind at the present moment and you can use that. I had to shoot two films back to back so I was really tired and saturated. Getting new ideas was getting more and more difficult so I actually used that to my advantage and Dev wanted that as well. Though the character was very different from me because I can be very vocal about what I want, like I stand up for what I believe and fight for it whereas this character wouldn't. So in many ways it's quite different from what I am.
So what is your favourite part of the film?
My favourite part of the film?
Anything, a scene, or act that you hadn't done before?
There are a few out there but I wouldn't put any favourites between a film. It's all part of the process, the journey, one thing leads to another, anyways even if I were to pick one I would give the story away...
Hmm...I was hoping you would..
(Laughs) nice try....
So any challenges that you faced on the set or was it an easy breezy ride?
It wasn't easy....filming never is. Being in Rajasthan was the biggest and hardest thing by itself...
How was it working with Tannishtha?
Awesome! She is really cool. She is a good actor and she is very focussed. I on the other hand tend to play around a little bit you know. I always tried to tease her. I would see her getting into the character, into the mood five minutes before the shot and I would make faces and tease her, and ended up finding myself distracted. So it really was lovely working with her. Just an amazing actor I would say. Faisal is the kid in the film and he is going to be the find of the movie, he was so good, people are going to discover a new kid who is a great actor as well.
The film has quickly garnered social appreciation, how does it feel?
It feels awesome. It's not one kind of audience that has accepted it but wherever it has played, it has a houseful show. Literally like, Berlin had five shows and all of them were houseful. I couldn't get tickets for my own friends. Yea! They said "You should've told us before we would have booked you more tickets but be happy that there are people buying your tickets' ...so it's really been well appreciated. People are like 'Wow! This is what people are making in India now? Is it the norm?' and we are like 'No it's not the norm but it can be if more people embrace it.' So it feels really good that.
But well, Indian audience loves drama... what kind of reaction are you expecting?
I hope they react well, like you asked me earlier if it's going to be different from my other films because people expect it to be, I was like 'okay! If that's what they are going to come in to watch they won't be disappointed' But on one level it's a very subtle film, in its humour, in its drama, in every way it's subtle. Something we are not used too, even in our food we are used to strong flavouring, that's our basic roots. We as a culture like to indulge. That's one thing I am hoping people appreciate, because it is a really good film.
Our audiences want it over the top....
Yea! But there is a growing audience for subtlety, I wouldn't say there isn't. Umm...you know like Dev D was an easy sell because there was nothing subtle about it, it was more out there, it was more stylish. This film isn't relying on any of those things. It's a simple story and it's beautifully told, and I hope that goes down well with the audiences here. It has worked with the global audiences.
What's after Road, Movie?
After Road, it's Aisha...
Leaning towards direction anytime...
No! No...not at all...