‘The promos of Agneepath have created a tremendous buzz and your look as Kancha seems menacing and deadly…what kind of feedback have you been getting?
I’ve got some really positive feedback. People seem to have already taken a liking for Kancha Cheena. I am really happy as we have all worked very hard on this film
What was your first reaction when Karan offered you the villain’s part in Agneepath?
Karan Johar and I go a long way. I had done Gumraah for his father Mr. Yash Johar many years ago and was always looking forward to working again with Dharma Productions. One day I received a call from Karan who said that he had a role for me. I went and met him and was introduced to the director Karan Malhotra who narrated the script of Agneepath. I remember there were these sketches of Kancha which Karan showed me and told me this is how I would look in the film. My only apprehension was that I couldn’t go bald as I was also committed to do some other films at that time. However, Karan told me that they would be using prosthetics to get the bald look. We did a look test with some make-up experts from Los Angeles and it all seemed fine. However, when we went to Diu to begin shooting, the prosthetics would melt off because of the extreme heat. We had to take a decision at that stage and I decided that it was in the best interest of the film that I shave of my hair and go bald for the character.
One of your biggest hits till date Khalnayak had you playing the bad guy, why is it that you never really played a negative role after that?
There is a big difference between my roles in Khalnayak and Agneepath. In Khalnayak, I was more of an anti-hero who became bad because of certain circumstances whereas Kancha is a completely dark character. It’s been a challenge playing this role
Kancha was played by Danny Denzongpa in the original film, how different is this Kancha?
The whole world of this Agneepath is completely different from the original film. Like you said, Kancha played by Danny was more suave; Even Amitji’s character as Vijay in the original film was dressed in suits etc. This is a more grounded film, very earthy and raw. There is no glamour as such in this film. Vijay Dinanath Chauhan (Hrithik’s character) is a very normal guy who stays in a chawl and dresses mostly in white shirt and jeans. My character Kancha who is in Mandwa too is very different this time around as he is mostly seen wearing dhotis etc and in a very rustic look. The premise of the two films may be the same but the setting has changed completely.
You are pitted against Hrithik Roshan with whom you earlier shared screen space in Mission Kashmir. That time you were the good guy and he was like the anti-hero, the tables seem to have turned this time around…
Yaaa…I’ve known Hrithik for a long time now. In fact when we were shooting for Mission Kashmir, his first film Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai had not even released. Now I have got the chance to once again share screen space with him in Agneepath and it has been a fabulous experience. Hrithik has really grown as an actor in these last few years. He is very dedicated and focused on his work. He is such a brilliant dancer but there is not a single song in Agneepath where you will see him dancing, so it’s a completely performance oriented role for him. In Mission Kashmir he was a newcomer but to see him perform with such intensity now in Agneepath is simply breath-taking.
Kancha’s menacing look has become the talk of the town. Whose idea was it to have him dress completely in black like The Dark Lord?
I would give the entire credit of creating Kancha to the director Karan Malhotra. It’s only his first film and for him to remake such an iconic film like Agneepath is not a joke. I can imagine the kind of burden on his shoulders. Hats off to him for doing a fabulous job on the film. He is a fantastic director with tremendous clarity and vision. He really believes in his characters and knew exactly how he wanted Kancha to be and for me as an actor, that made my job much easier.
How is the feeling returning once again to Dharma Productions after nearly 19 years after you worked in Yash Johar’s Gumraah?
It was such a lovely experience that I felt like I came back home after so many years. Yash uncle has seen me since I was a small child and many years back when I got the chance to work in Gumraah it was a big high for me. Now I am privileged to have got the chance to work with Karan Johar and Dharma Productions once again in Agneepath. It’s like working in my own home production
How has it been working with other co-stars such as Priyanka and Rishi Kapoor?
I just have one scene with Chintuji. He is a brilliant actor and has never ever done a character like Rauf Lala before. In his entire career he has mostly played the good and loving guy but here he plays a really bad guy with utmost conviction. I don’t have any scenes with Priyanka but she is a brilliant performer who only keeps getting better with each film.
Tell us something about the action of the film?
Abbas Ali Moghul has choreographed the action sequences but its all as per Karan Malhotra’s vision. Karan was very clear that he wanted the action scenes to be raw and gritty. He wanted Kancha Cheena to be larger than life and stronger than the hero so that eventually when the hero overpowers him, the heroism comes out at its best.
Your expressions in ‘Chikni Chameli‘ too seem deadly…what do you have to say about the item number that’s taken the nation by storm?
It’s a great song with brilliant choreography by Ganesh Acharya. Katrina too has carried herself phenomenally in this song. She’s danced like a dream and has never done such a full on rustic Indian dance number before this. As for my expressions, I have just followed the director’s instructions.
Over the last few years, you have had a few hits like All The Best and Double Dhamaal but people have been waiting for that one big hit from you. Do you think Agneepath will do that for you?
Well…I just hope and pray that it does work. The buzz is tremendous and I hope people enjoy the film
How do you look back at your TV stint with Bigg Boss 5?
It was a great experience as it gave me a chance to connect with people at a whole new level. I was a bit conscious initially during the first couple of episodes but then I kinda opened up and it was a great experience working with the whole team of Bigg Boss.
Could you tell us a bit about your forthcoming films?
I am right now shooting for Zilla Ghaziabad with Arshad and Vivek. The film I believe is a dark horse. It’s got superb action and I am sure will shock a lot of people. Son Of Sardar with Ajay is an action-comedy with that rustic feel of Punjab. I have a fantastic feeling about that film as well. And then there is RGV’s Department with Mr. Bachchan and Rana which is more in the Satya kind of a genre. So I am looking forward to all these films
Finally what’s the status on Munnabhai 3?
Munnabhai 3 is most likely commencing in September this year. Raju Hirani himself would be directing the film and Arshad, Boman and myself are so far confirmed.’