|Interview with actor Ronit Roy
have been offered three films which required me to play another
|Posted on 10 June 2003
Ronit Roy is riding the
crest of the wave right now.
An assortment of jobs later, this Ahmedabadi boy had just settled
into Bollywood when his debut film completed a silver-jubilee run
in almost every city except Mumbai.
Disappointment loomed large but he overcame the odds to start his
own security agency for providing safety options to some of the
top stars. Great idea! And after all, he had to keep the kitchen
Today though, he is the talk of the town for quite something
else - as Rishabh Bajaj in Kasauti Zindagii Kay and Mihir
Virani in Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi!! The way people
have responded to his portrayal of Bajaj and Mihir is unprecedented.
People see him on the streets and stop in amazement. Married women
kiss his hand and their husbands don't seem to feel jealous. He
goes for a friend's party and is accosted by all kinds of people.
Apparently, they think he has done a terrific job in both serials.
(And he has. Even though he is morally in the red, his gamut of
emotions especially in Kyunki... make you sympathise with
Shooting at Indiclay in Goregaon, he takes time off in his make-up
room to talk to Vickey Lalwani.
Let's begin with a cliched question. Did you always want to be an
(smiles) Yes. My childhood was spent in Ahmedabad. Friends in school
used to tease me, 'Go to Mumbai if you want to be a hero. What are
you hanging here for?' I came down to Mumbai when I was just a teenager.
I worked with Subhash Ghai for a year. I knew him, and in fact,
was living in his house. Initially, he dissuaded me from joining
the film world, saying that this field is very, very 'speculative'.
'speculative', he meant that there is no guarantee. You may be riding
the crest one moment, you fall into a trough the next. I agree with
him. Bharat Bhushan, who was the best actor of yesteryears according
to me, died without anybody near his bedside. I know of a famous
former actor who has been seen begging on the streets, these days.
Raj Kiran was reduced to driving a taxi.
Anyway, I worked as a management trainee at the Sea Rock Hotel in
Mumbai. A year later, my dad expired. Something snapped and I quit
my job. I went back to Ghai and joined him as an assistant director.
During that stint, I realised that I'd need at least 10 years before
I become a force to reckon with in direction. I could not wait.
I joined Sanjeev Sharma and Mansoor Khan's company 'Pilot Communications'
to learn cinema, which was a faster process than learning direction.
Later, I branched out to become a freelance editor. I edited lots
of stuff for Ghai and went on to set up his video division too.
I was involved with the setting up of Drishti India Limited. I directed
25 episodes of the revamped Chitrahaar on Doordarshan and
even some commercials. I even modelled in some ads.
How did your debut film 'Jaan Tere Naam' happen?
I was an editor, I was just pressing buttons. Due to a lack of mobility,
I had put on lots of weight. The makers auditioned me, but I got
bounced. They went on to cast someone else. When they took that
guy's re-audition, they found that he had a problem with dialogue
delivery. I was recalled and asked to reduce my weight.
That flick did fairly well. What happened after that?
After my debut film was a hit, I did 12-13 other films, but
due to various reasons they did not work. Some films were wrong,
some people were wrong. There was nobody to advise me. I could not
control the situation.
I decided to start anew. I started my own security agency called
'Ace Security and Protection'. On the acting front, I decided to
exercise patience and restraint and waited for the right opportunities
to come by.
Looking back at those 12-13 film projects which I did, I analyse
that I was doing a very boring job. I rarely had the chance to be
myself and experiment coolly, unlike what I do on television these
days. Television gives you more creative freedom than films.
Tell us about 'Ace Security and Protection'...
was my first big break, so to speak. It was the acid test of my
potential. There was a scene that needed 10,000 people running behind
Aamir Khan. I had to arrange the 200 trucks bringing in those villagers,
who were all understandably very excited to meet Aamir. Now, those
people were supposed to stop at a particular point, but they didn't.
I almost panicked but we managed to bring the situation under control.
We whisked Aamir away to a safe location on the sets and then had
him speak to the 10,000 villagers, all bursting to catch a glimpse
of him. Besides, making sure that they all left the location satisfied
and did not create any ruckus was also important.
Thereafter, we handled major films like Dil Chahta Hai, Yaadein,
Na Tum Jano Na Hum, Saathiya and Armaan.
I have a wonderful equation with Aamir Khan, courtesy Lagaan.
He is extremely cooperative. It is interesting to provide security
for stars and productions, who understand the imperative value and
need for security. Hrithik, too, is extremely cooperative. He is
always ready to listen and act according to the needs of the security
personnel and the situations that arise. Likewise with any other
star I have been chosen to cover and protect.
All my boys are trained in martial arts and other security techniques.
Besides, they have been trained to deal with the stars and situations.
And then came the role of Rishabh Bajaj?
After three years of business, Balaji Telefilms called me first
for Kammal, then they wanted me to take up Rishabh Bajaj's
role in Kasautii.... Then came Mihir Virani in Kyunki....
And the rest, as they say, is history (smiles).
were some people who even told me that I won't be able to
make Mihir as famous as Bajaj. Today, Mihir has raced ahead
How does it feel to be a TV artiste?
Grrrrreat. Today, a TV artiste is far more popular than a film one.
Believe me, I have barely slept in one week, in the days when both
these Balaji serials needed me to shoot, come what may. And I have
no complaint about the physical exertion. If you are on a high,
as I am after playing the two characters of Bajaj and Mihir, you
won't feel the exertion.
your mental make-up is great, your physical stress can never take
the better of you. And before you ask me whether my family life
gets disturbed due to odd hours of work, let me say 'Yes, but that's
the name of the game. You can't have your cake and eat it too. If
you get something like this, you "have to" play it. You can't be
riding such a popularity wave and dictating your work terms of limited
hours of input (smiles).
The character of Mihir had already been played by two actors (Amarr
Upadhyay and Inder Kumar) previously. What made you accept the role?
After playing the character of Bajaj, I wanted to do something which
would be bigger than Bajaj. Balaji and the directors of the serial
had turned Mihir's character into an icon. When I was offered this
role, I was given only four hours to decide. There were too many
expectations, but I took it up. There were some people who even
told me that I won't be able to make Mihir as famous as Bajaj. Today,
Mihir has raced ahead of Bajaj. I have always performed better in
pressured situations. Tell me, didn't I live up to my tendency even
this time? (smiles).
Whom do you lean on while working?
I depend on the director and my co-stars. Even if the script is
terrific, a bad director can easily screw it up. Also, you build
a certain degree of competition which infuses enthusiasm when the
co-stars are competent. Their positive energy rubs off on me. In
Kyunki..., this happens when I am with anybody, be it Smriti
Mahotra/Apara Mehta/ Aman Varma or anyone else, as I believe that
each person in this serial has something special about him/her.
Frankly, I don't consider myself a very good actor (smiles). What
I mean is, I have to work very hard to get it right sometimes.
style of acting do you follow?
I have my own style. I study the character sketch of the person I
am playing. Even if we are not given the full script, at least I know
what is going to happen in the next few days. I put myself in the
character's shoes, and thankfully, now maybe this is God's gift, I
begin to experience the feelings he must be undergoing during that
period. This helps a lot.
As for where I join from (like when I joined Kyunki... midway),
I go into the history of the character. I went into all the finer
details of Mihir's early episodes.
different is a daily from a weekly?
Both are totally different ball games. Firstly, a daily is a more
hurried job than a weekly.
Secondly, a daily is more of a writer and actor's medium than a director's
medium. Please don't read between the lines. I am not saying that
every Tom, Dick and Harry can direct a daily. This is because a daily
is a medium of basically compact shots wherein every artiste begins
to talk, walk and eat his role. If you do the same thing again and
again, you obviously become perfect. So what counts is how the writer
turns and twists the plot and introduces new tracks so as to keep
the viewers' interest alive.
On the other hand, an artiste does not get into the skin of the character
in a weekly as much as he does in a daily. Therein, a director has
to get into the act to ensure that he/she sustains an artiste's style
and emotions. Nobody wants a goof-up of sorts wherein the artiste
appears different and ill-at-ease every successive week. Do you know
that I did not use a drop of glycerine in the recent 'mandir' scene
wherein I broke down expressing my helplessness to Shakti Anand?
(created by the turn in the story)would not be a satisfying
experience for me. I am enjoying the fact that my performance
is doing the talking"
Has the Mihir you portray now reached the popularity level enjoyed
by Amarr Upadhyay?
I don't want to reach Amarr's stage. That was a hysteria created
by the turn in the story. If you remember, even Bajaj's death sometime
ago did create some hysteria, which of course did not match the
one that happened when Mihir died. It even happened (the death of
the hero)in Des Mein Niklla Hoga Chand recently. When Mihir
died, the hero on Indian television had been killed for the first
time. That hysteria would not be a satisfying experience for me.
I am enjoying the fact that my performance is doing the talking.
there any similarities between Bajaj and Ronit?
There are a few similarities. Bajaj must be very well brought up,
just like me. But there are a whole lot of differences too. Unlike
me, Bajaj is very ruthless when it comes to business decisions.
I have never snatched other people's work or played dirty politics.
I have immense faith in destiny. Whatever I deserve, I will get.
Nobody can take that away. Generally, Bajaj dons three-piece suits,
while I can be seen in a casual jeans and T-shirt.
an actor, it should not matter whether he is playing an older
person or a younger one"
closely do you identify with the "new" Mihir, I mean, the Mihir
who had a one-night stand with Mandira?
(laughs). I think the earlier Mihir was entirely white. There is
no person on earth who does not have shades of grey. So, I am enjoying
this track where he committed one mistake in his life. Even Lord
Ram faltered when asked his wife Sita to undergo 'agnipariksha'
(ordeal by fire)! We are mere human beings!! Don't human beings
cheat on their wives?
Besides, I am 37 and I am playing someone who is about 45. So there's
not much of a gap. Actually, I have a 12-year old daughter. It's
easy to put myself into Mihir's shoes and think of Sumeet Sachdev,
Hiten Tejwani, Ritu Chaudhary, or any other youngster, as my own
child. In fact, often, even after the shooting is over, you'll see
me calling them 'beta' !
But doesn't the fact that both your characters require you to play
more than your age, worry you?
Give me one good reason as to why it should cause a worry. I think
that your entire perspective about a character changes when you
think that you are a star. I want to be an actor, and in fact, I
am an actor. To an actor, it should not matter whether he is playing
an older person or a younger one. If you are 37, how can the hero
too in the story be 37? A story is fiction. It can turn even the
other way round if and when it goes into a flashback.
For example, I recently went Australia to shoot for Kyunki...
where I had to play Mihir as he was 20 years ago. Here my character
became very much younger than what I have been portraying currently.
So, any day, any time, you might be playing someone much younger.
In fact, this unpredictability is exciting. The key is to adapt
to the character along with the changes introduced in it. That is
the essence of acting.
do you handle the fan following?
is flattering. I feel satisfied to have reached this stage in my life.
I take all this appreciation as my reward and it inspires me to do
better work. But I am not going to get carried away. I have seen the
rough-n-tough side of life, when my films failed to click at the turnstiles.
Now that your television career is really looking up, are you getting
any film offers?
I am getting film offers. In fact, I have accepted a couple of them.
But please, I don't want to talk about it now. It's early days. Surely,
I am not doing all of those.
Why only films, I have even refused at least six serials! In most
cases, the makers were not good. TV programme-production is a funny
business. Often the maker is not financially sound, but yet wants
to kick off. Consequently, the production values are not maintained
and the artistes suffer. For no fault of theirs, they look insipid
and jaded when they come on screen.
Having done great characters like Bajaj and Mihir, I have to be careful.
I don't want to play a sidekick. The role must be weighty and exciting.
Most importantly, I don't want to be repetitive. Since December 2002,
I have been offered three films which required me to play another
Bajaj. I refused. I don't want to play the prodigal son again either.
There is so much more that I can do.
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