Hrithik Roshan celebrates 36 birthday today: The year could not have got off to a more rollicking start for Hrithik Roshan. He celebrates his 36th birthday today.
And, yesterday he was crowned The Times' Most Desirable Man of 2010 in an online poll on www.itimes.com driven by zoOm that saw the actor fighting off a stiff challenge from Salman Khan and Ranbir Kapoor among other macho and, well, desirable Bollywood heroes. I called up Hrithik at night to congratulate him. He was busy putting his kids, Hrehaan and Hridhaan, to bed!
"I do this whenever I am in town because they wait up for me," explained the Most Desirable Man in a hushed voice. He was delighted with the honour, naturally. "It feels great, because last year two of my films didn't do well, to know that I'm still wanted... it's a good feeling," Hrithik admitted. He has his own interpretation of what 'Desirable' means. "I believe I am a reflection of the potential in all of us," he said, "and if you can recognise that in me, then it is upto each one of you to work hard and in a committed and consistent manner to be what you want to be. I am just a symbol, an artist in the business of selling dreams, the manifestation of one who has travelled the mile to achieve what he desires."
This, from an actor who delivered two turkeys at the box-office in 2010. "I have my own theories about Kites and Guzaarish," he said defensively. "I am not disappointed, it was a milestone year, I am filled with a sense of deep gratitude. I took two of the biggest risks. I went where the brave dare not go. With Kites, I tried to cross the language barrier, and I have learned a lesson; but with Guzaarish, I attempted what no star would do, and it was a gratifying experience. I am used to audiences throwing coins, dancing, for my films. Here, at the end they stood up in silence and clapped.
I got teary-eyed hugs in silence from strangers that said beautiful things. I have never had this experience in my 10 years of cinema. I would be ashamed to complain that the film didn't do well. Sometimes art has to exist without profit and loss. I agree, there has to be certain economics to filmmaking, and there's no reason to take this experience and treat it as a failure; because Guzaarish added to people's lives, it changed my life, I have never felt so deeply about any of my previous works. I try to imbibe the positive qualities from all the characters I play. But from Ethan (his character in Guzaarish), I've realised what life is all about. That pain has such a beautiful meaning, that our shortcomings and misery are the wind beneath our wings, they help us to carry on till we get flight."
That Hrithik Roshan is now flying, I have no doubt. He has put 2010 behind him, and this year he has two exciting films to look forward to - Zoya Akhtar's Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Karan Johar's remake of Agneepath, both of which have roles he's never done before. "That's how I enjoy my work, I am an extremist, I hate monotony," Hrithik said. In Zindagi..., he plays the guy next door, there's no emotional confrontation, no fight in his life. And life itself is a beautiful journey in Spain with three people discovering themselves. But Agneepath is the other end of the spectrum. "Grit, revenge, emotional turmoil, it's all there," he said with feeling.
But this is also Amitabh Bachchan's 1990 National Award-winning role as Vijay Dinanath Chauhan for Yash Johar in the original film. Big shoes for Hrithik to fill. "It would be stupid, preposterous, for me to suggest that I want to immitate him," Hrithik said. "His was one of the best performances in the history of cinema, and the film is one of my favourites, so I am going to give it my best shot. But our characters in the films are as different as our personalities are. And no way am I going to give anybody reason for comparison. When I signed Jodhaa Akbar, people said I had signed my death sentence, because Akbar was moulded in Prithviraj Kapoor's personality. Even well-wishers cautioned me against taking up the challenge. Eventually, when the film was released, nobody even compared the performance; because Prithviraj was magnificent as Akbar, but Ashutosh Gowarikar's Akbar was endearing and enjoyable as well. Ultimately, you have to trust your director."
He wakes up to a new year, today. In which, he told me at night, he wishes to be "from sunrise to sunset" as healthy, energetic and flexible as he can so that he may "jump on the bed and play with the kids". Which is a strange request from the man rated yesterday by The Times 50 Most Desirable People of 2010 poll as being blessed with "dropdead gorgeous looks and a Greek God body". For which he worksout religiously first thing in the morning and last thing at night. "Why waste the day," Hrithik asked, "I start with cardio, I do some Yoga, stretches that keep my knees and back on track, and at night I do weights. In the middle, I burn calories through my grey cells!" But the wear and tear of being the Most Desirable Man has also taken its toll on Hrithik Roshan. "I don't have the knees I was born with," he laughed, "and it requires about 30 minutes of maintenance daily for me to, well, take this in my stride. But I do it naturally now... it's like brushing my teeth."