A Minute with Hrithik Roshan

'Kites' actor talks about injury and being a camera-shy star

MUMBAI -- A decade in the business and with barely 20 films in his kitty, Hrithik Roshan isn't the star who is always in your face.

The 36-year-old is notoriously camera-shy, doesn't give a lot of interviews and has been missing from the screen for two years.

Yet, he remains one of the most popular stars in Bollywood -- a look at all the Hrithik Roshan online fan clubs are enough proof.

Back with his bilingual film "Kites," Roshan spoke about the debilitating knee injury that kept him out of action and why Indian films don't do well abroad.

Q: You've been missing from the silver screen for the last two years. What have you been up to?
A: "Well, I was working on 'Kites' for just seven months but for six months before that was down with an injury to my knee, which just refused to heal. Science told me that the knee would never heal. I kept waiting for it to become better, but it didn't so I thought I would switch to another career, maybe become a singer or direct a film but my heart was breaking.

"I knew that if I wanted to be an actor, I couldn't compromise on my roles. If I couldn't dance or sing, I didn't want to act. I was on crutches for six months and while shooting for the last schedule of 'Jodhaa Akbar.'

"After that I was just hunting for the next six months, reading all kinds of scripts but knowing that there was no way I could do what it demanded at that point. When I heard 'Kites,' I felt that God gave me a sign. I went and hugged Suzanne and told her 'this is it,' I have found what I was looking for.”

Q: How does an artist cope with a debilitating injury that may potentially ruin his career?

A: "I persevered. I believe that there are some things beyond our control in this world. I was very depressed during those six months. I went to every doctor, searched for a cure everywhere in the world but unbelievably it was on the first day of the sets of 'Kites' that I felt the pain in the knee reduce. But I didn't want to jinx it. It was only when the pain completely went away that I believe it healed.

"Everyone has their struggles. Everyone has to cope with them. You have one life and you have to ask yourself. Am I just going to give up and complain or is it going to be a better story if I just keep going?"

Q: What do you believe healed it?

A: "What healed it was my search, my belief that nothing is impossible in this world. If you can see it in your head you will see it manifest. It took me two and a half years and I didn't give up. I told myself that this cannot be the end of my story -- I can see it in my mind that there is a lot more to come, that I will go on."

Q: Two years is a long time in the film industry. Did you ever worry that you were missing out?

A: "Before 'Krissh' I had a two-year gap, then 'Krissh' came and everything was forgotten.

Then I had a knee problem. Then 'Kites' was ready last year but Brett Ratner came in the picture and asked us for five months. And when he has the kind of faith in the film, you cannot say no. It is like a baby and when someone comes and says I think this baby has potential, can you trust me with it and I will make it better, you don't say no.

"But in the middle of all this, I wasn’t doing nothing. I was shooting for 'Guzaarish' (Sanjay Leela Bhansali's film with Aishwarya Rai). Luckily, this year will see two releases of mine. Also Zoya Akhtar's film will be ready by the end of the year, so hopefully that should also come out in quick succession."

Q: In spite of the break, your star power hasn't diminished. Why do you think that is?
A: "I don't know. Every creative person has to follow his own base. A truly creative person cannot calculate and manipulate his creativity. If I start thinking from my mind, my creativity will suffer.

"I don't believe in things like the number game and what my star status is. I am concerned about finding out who I am. That is my main aim. At some point I may even be able to do ten films a year but that would be a natural progression of what I am able to control at that point in time."

Q: "Kites" is being pitched to an international audience. Do you think it will work?

A: "My only thing with this film was that we don't have to repeat everything in every film. Like 'Dhoom' was a fun film, had some great moments but that doesn't mean you can repeat that in a film like 'Kites' which is like a slice of life film.

"Everyone says why don't our films work abroad but the only difference is that we are conditioned in our mind to repeat the successes of the past. Like using songs as a way of garnering an initial for the film, even if it doesn’t work in their scheme of things.

"If you are making a 'Scarface' you cannot put a 'Dhoom' song in it, you just can't. Those are not the kind of films I want to do any more. I want to make the kind of films that have made me what I am but I want to do it with honesty and promise that in the film."