‘Our Films Need to Change’: Hrithik Roshan

Hrithik Roshan speaks to Shama Bhagat about the challenges of playing the antagonist in Vikram Vedha and how the pandemic changed his outlook on life and cinema
A poster of Vikram Vedha
A poster of Vikram Vedha

Did you watch the Tamil original that your film is based on? How did you make the character of Vedha, which was played by Vijay Sethupati in the original, your own?

I saw the original about three years ago, and remember saying that I would love to do the film. I have, however, not consciously tried to do something different from the original. We are all different
as individuals. This aspect seeps into the character. It doesn’t matter who else had played that part. We have to access our own individuality and create. It’s what makes our performances unique.

Hrithik Roshan
Hrithik Roshan

You play the antagonist Vedha in the film. Was it difficult to portray a negative character?

It was challenging. Vedha is a bad guy, but he is also sensitive. I’m happy that I could play his character sensitively. I believe in this film, since its content drew me to the script.

How was it working with Saif Ali Khan?

I have admired Saif for over a decade. His style is real and not starry, which in turn enhanced my performance. I am grateful that he made me perform better.

Your last release War was a box-office hit. What are your expectations with Vikram Vedha?

Since War, I‘ve stopped thinking about collections at the box office. I’ll always feel proud that I got an opportunity to do a film like Vikram Vedha. I am amazed that a script can be written like this.

How do you think Hindi cinema has evolved over the last two years? Do you think in making ‘realistic’ cinema, we have done away with the heroism that was once celebrated?

Thanks to OTT, over the last two years, the Indian audience has been exposed to cinema from around the world. Now they want realistic films. It’s time for us, as an industry, to recalibrate and evolve. We have to come up with new ideas and cater to our audience’s tastes. Our films need to change. The idea of heroism should be born out of the actions of the character. We have gotten used to a certain mould. We believe a hero should look a particular way and flaunt his biceps and six packs, but that notion is gradually dissipating. We are merging these qualities with a realistic image. That is what I have tried to do while playing Vedha.

Your last release was before in 2019. Have you seen any changes in yourself, personally and professionally, since the pandemic?

The pandemic has been a phase of introspection. There is a vast difference between who I was then and who I am today. Everything has evolved. I have realigned myself. My priorities have changed. Life is no longer about just acting, making films and making money. I believe we need to do more for each other as human beings.

How content are you with the way your career has shaped up so far? Do you have any regrets?

I am quite content. As an actor, I have got great opportunities. When I look back on my past work, I cringe. I don’t understand how all of that was received with so much love. But, there are no regrets. If
I stop and stare at disappointments, life won’t be any fun. And now, after 22 years, I have realised that I have started to act better, in bits and parts, and I am enjoying it. It has finally started. I am hoping to do a lot better work than I have ever done in life.

Who is your go-to critic when it comes to your films?

I receive feedback from my sons a lot. Since they have grown up watching all kinds of cinema, their gauge is incredible. They have a refined perspective. They are critical of my earlier films. I believe if they ever make films, they will make progressive cinema.

Vikram Vedha is quite heavy on action. Was that difficult?

A lot of it was made easy and comfortable for me. I am embarrassed that I took time to do the action sequences, which were quite hard. There was a lot of hand-to-hand combat. For the first two days, I simply gauged the kind of action I was expected to do.

Dancing has always come naturally to you. Tell us about your dance numbers in Vikram Vedha.

Ganesh Hegde has done a brilliant job choreographing for the film. This is our fourth film together. It wasn’t easy to convey the essence and the mood of the film through dance, but he managed to extract it from me.

Between dance sequences and action scenes, did you have a go-to fitness mantra?

I am aspiring to be fitter than ever before. I meditate. I have a video on that and will release it soon. While shooting Vikram Vedha, I used to go into my van and meditate before every shot. I am restless by nature, but Vedha is calm and composed. I wanted to bring the composure of the character, and meditation helped me with that.

What do you think of the Bollywood versus southern cinema debate?

I don’t differentiate between the two. They are all Indian films for me.

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