Saturday, August 11, 2007


The Just Mohabbat cutie has grown up into a sweet-faced campus Romeo. But there’s more to the wonder kid than his natural good looks, his concern for issues like global warming for instance

It’s been a while since Taarzan—The Wonder Car, but you’re still a big hit with your young fans?
(Chuckling) Yeah, I’m still called Tarzan when I’m seen in public, which can be embarrassing at times. But it’s sweet and amusing too. The film got very high TRPs when it was first screened on Zee TV and since then they’ve been showing it at least 2-3 times a month. Since my teleserial Just Mohabbat I’ve been very popular with kids who are always your most loyal fans.

So do you drive a wonder car too?
(With a laugh) No, I ride a Maruti Swift which is a compact and fuel-efficient car, perfect for this city. I’m not really into bikes and cars. For me they’re just a mode of transportation. In fact, I’d rather walk than go for a drive. Global warming has become a matter of serious concern. I was in Ladakh recently for the shoot of Mera Bharat Mahaan and though it was really cold there and short of oxygen, there was no snow. It had all melted. A lot has been written about this in the papers but unfortunately, we’re still not taking it seriously. I guess it stems from lack of awareness, which is why whenever I get a chance to interact with my fans as happened in Chandigarh recently, I bring up the topic. The best thing about being a celebrity is that you have access to people and the media. You can impress on them that it’s the small things that make the big difference.

Mera Bharat Mahaan sounds like a patriotic subject being made to celebrate 60 years of India’s independence.
Well, it does have patriotic undertones but it’s not your usual desh -bhakti drama. I’m not at a liberty to reveal much, apart from the fact that it’s a different kind of adventure film with a lot of big names. There’s Salmanbhai (Khan), Sunnybhai (Deol), Mithunda (Chakravarty), Preity (Zinta), Bobby (Deol) and Dino (Morea). (With a grin) It’s an all-weather film. When we shot in Delhi it was blistering, Ladakh was biting cold and Chandigarh was rainy. So watch out for it.

Rajasthan, where Nanhe Jaisalmer was filmed, must have been pretty hot too?
Yes, Jaisalmer was hot but beautiful too. I’d never been to Rajasthan before and on my first trip I was caught in a sandstorm. It’s crazy! The sand clogs your eyes, mouth and nose, sheets your whole body and gets into your hair. But it was an experience too.

How was your young co-actor ?
He’s wonderful, very talented. He’s in Mera Bharat Mahaan too. So’s Bobby who’s a cool guy. No attitude, very chilled-out, a real buddy. And Preity too. During a night shoot in Chandigarh she saw me labouring through pages of dialogue in a quiet corner and strolled over to help me out with my lines.

Talking about buddies, you’re working on Hostel,a film on campus life.
Yeah, it’s set in a boy’s hostel but it’s not glossy and bubble-gum. It deals with the serious issue of ragging and has been inspired by real life. There’s a scene where I’m dragged out by my seniors to the playground, stripped and tied to a tree. Though I was wearing shorts and my co-actors were guys like Mukesh Tiwari who I knew well, I still had gooseflesh everytime I imagined that this had really happened to some boy like me.

Did you face any kind of ragging when you were in college?
No, Mithibai College in Mumbai has never reported such horrific incidents. College life for me was great fun. I was already doing Just Mohabbat by then and though I was a science student and loaded down with studies and practicals, my professors were very cooperative. They would let me off for shooting and I have to admit there were times when I would take advantage and bunk lectures. That’s one of the benefits of being a star.

The benefits must have accumulated over the years.
(With a laugh) Not really. I’m still a newcomer here and completely leave myself in the hands of my directors completely. I don’t talk much but I listen to everything the director says and watch senior actors like Salmanbhai and Ajaybhai. They are superstars and yet so down-to-earth and so sweet. I often go on the sets just so I can learn by watching them.

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