You have so much work in hand, right from seeing the release of your films, their promotion and preparation for your next biggie. Still, you call yourself unemployed. Isn't that paradoxical?
Arrey yaar ek actor ki life badi ajeeb hoti hai. When you have too much work then you want to relax. At that time you feel ki chalo bahaut ho gaya, ab bujhe picture nahi karni kuch waqt tak. But then when you begin to take a break, you feel very uncomfortable. You start feeling a lot unemployed even though you know that there is something going to happen soon. Since I am not used to 'not working' for a good period of time, it becomes a very uncomfortable situation for me.
But then you asked for it
True man, but it all becomes very ironic because the fact is that I am not used to it. It is almost like going down from the fifth gear to the first gear. The whole pace of your life changes because when you are doing filming or promotion, at least you are surrounded by people. Otherwise you become all alone.
Coming to Paathshaala, there have been so many speculations around your presence in the film. Since the film is about children, there were rumours about you making only an 'extended guest appearance'.
Let me put it this way that Paathshaala may be small in comparison to some other films that I am doing and I may not be a quintessential hero here. However, it isn't as if I have a guest appearance in the film, as has been speculated by some. I have a substantial role that lasts for around 50 minutes in the film and that too from start to finish. I guess that's a good enough presence, isn't it?
May be that's the reason why Ahmed and Co. are promoting this film as a Shahid starrer. Doesn't that worry you because at the end of the day, you are not the central protagonist here?
See, Ahmed is like a dear family member to me, and his wife Shaira, who is producing the film, is also very close to me. When opportunity came my way, I wanted to extend my support to the fullest. Having said that, after hearing the subject I realised that they were making something really relevant. I believe the message in it and I want that to reach out to the people. If you look at the education system, there are so many different kind of issues that kids are facing today. We should think about this because children are our future. I was moved by the very fact that that someone was making a commercial film about this rather than a documentary.
You sound emotionally charged about the whole experience.
Exactly. I told Ahmed and Shaira to use me as much as they want for the film's publicity. If using my face gets even 10 more people to see the film then I would feel that I have been a part of something really relevant. It is a noble effort and I feel fortunate to be a part of it. I have seen the film and I am happy to have done it.
Well, since you are so excited about the film, can you also confirm if the film is akin to Mohabbatein meeting 3 Idiots? After all the promos give that impression.
(Comes up with a hearty laugh) Now that's the most original reference that I have heard. Maine Taare Zameen Par ka reference point toh suna tha but yeh first hai! Come on, there is no similarity here. We had shot Paathshaala well before the release of 3 Idiots. On the other hand, Mohabbatein was a love story about three students. Haan yaar theek hai, yahan bhi ek school hai but then that's about it. When people watch Paathshaala, they would realise that there are no similarities with anything that have seen earlier. May be as a journo, you want to come up with an angle but sorry, I don't see any broad generalisation here.
In the film, you have Ayesha Takia as your co-star. Do we see any revival of Dil Maange More romance here?
No, not at all. In the film, we are playing just colleagues. There is no romance angle in the film at all. Scope hi nahi hai!