In Shamshera you are doing action, as well as a double role, which is very different from the characters you’ve played previously. It is also your first period film. What led to the decision?
My father had advised me to do modern films. He said otherwise I would be typecast. He asked me to keep experimenting. I have been working for the last 15 years, so it is important to keep reinventing myself and develop new skill sets with every role, and unlearn everything I have learned.
I have only played romantic roles so far. I was to play only Balli’s role in the film but when I heard about Shamshera’s role, which was going to be played by someone else, I turned selfish and told director Karan Malhotra that I wanted to do the father’s role as well. I was eager to play both father and son. I did look tests and have worked hard on both the roles. The shooting turned out to be better than the narration. They are different characters. I was clear from the beginning that there will be no similarities between the two roles.
You are working with actor Sanjay Dutt once again in Shamshera. He plays an antagonist in the film. How was the experience of working with him this time?
I have loved and admired Sanjay Dutt as an actor right from my childhood. I used to have many of his posters on my cupboard. I got to know him better when I did Sanju. I lived his life in the film and we interacted every day during the shoot. In this film, he’s playing the antagonist, hence I got to know him more intensely. He treats me like a younger brother with great affection. Even on the sets, everybody simply loved him. He has so much love to offer and he’s so protective of everyone around .
You did not have a single release in the last four years. What kept you away?
All my projects were big screen extravagant films and it took time. I was busy shooting for Shamshera as well as Brahmastra. There was so much to prepare and the release was not in my hands. The pandemic struck us plus my father fell ill and we were taking care of him. I also got married. So this year is the icing on the cake for me as I have four releases due. Besides Brahmastra and Shamshera, there’s also director Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s Animal and producer-director Luv Ranjan’s untitled venture.
How has married life been treating you? What kind of a parent do you want to be?
I have been married in my mind for the last five years. It’s an exciting phase. I have found my life partner. We love and respect each other. She is a hardworking actor and at such an early age, at the peak of her career, she’s having a child. I don’t think Alia ever debated over that, as it’s a natural process. It’s a gift from God and that era is over where women don’t work after having children.
Alia is such a fine actress. She is going to be even busier in the future. She just finished shooting for her Hollywood film. Her work won’t take a back seat. At times, she will be the primary parent when I am busy, and I will be the primary parent when she is busy. We will balance our work to take care of the child. We have to do a lot of planning for the future. I have anyway been a lazy person and with the baby coming, I will get lazier. I don’t know what will happen in the future, but I guess I will be a chilled out father. I want to have lots of children.
Do you ever wish to take up direction in the future?
I want to direct a film someday. I wrote a story during the pandemic and I loved the story. I don’t have the expertise of a writer nor do I have the strength, right now, to share the story with other people. But direction is certainly on my wishlist and hopefully I will direct a film someday.
My wife is a good producer and has a production house. Hopefully she’ll produce the film for me and I will direct it.
Will we see you on Koffee with Karan this season?
I am not going on the show as it gives rise to controversies.