By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: As Hrithik Roshan turns 40 on 10 January, his father filmmaker and one-time actor Rakesh Roshan turns emotional saying, “My wife and I want Hrithik to be happy and at peace with himself, no matter what.”
Rakesh also reminisced about Hrithik with little-known anecdotes .
“Hrithik was just 9 when he did my father-in-law’s film Bhagwan Dada. Hrithik was not supposed to do the film. But the child actor who had a pivotal role with Rajnikanth fell ill. My father-in-law director J Om Prakash insisted, ‘Let’s take Duggu.’. I was against the idea. ‘Daddy, Duggu can’t act!’ I protested. I wanted Hrithik to focus on his studies. We’d have never known there was a brilliant actor lurking in him if my father-in-law had not insisted.”
Rakesh Roshan vividly recalls 9-year old Hrithik’s first shot.
“Since along with Rajnikanth and Sridevi I also played the lead in Bhagwan Dada I was there on the first day of shooting when Hrithik had to give his first shot. It was with Sridevi. I was so nervous and embarrassed that I hid behind a pillar on the sets, just watching my son quietly. I could see him very quiet, not communicating with anybody. I thought he was just not interested. But when he gave his first shot he was perfect!! Like Sridevi, my son transformed when the camera was on. That was the moment I realized my son had it in him to be an actor.We already knew he was a natural-born dancer. Before that I thought of him as quiet boy lost in his own world of studies and school. But the way he did his death scene in Bhagwan Dada left me stumped. How could a 9-year old boy who doesn’t even know about death, play dead so convincingly? That’s when we knew.”
Hrithik had already decided he would be an actor. But his father wanted him to finish his studies first.
Says Rakesh Roshan, “As per our deal Hrithik came to me after his studies and said he wanted to assist me. I took him on as an assistant for 5 of my films. I told him I won’t launch him until he was 24. He joined acting classes and would come home and act out dramatic scenes, like Raj Kapoor’s scene with Lalita Pawar in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Anari. The way he did that scene, I was highly impressed. That’s when the idea for Kaho Na…Pyar Hai came to my mind. I knew what he was capable of, so I told a big step for him. I cast him in a double role. I knew he could carry it off. I didn’t take Hrithik in Kaho Na…Pyar Hai because he was my son. I took him because he was a potential star. To this day I work with him because I know what he’s worth and not because he is my son.”
Rakesh and Hrithik Roshan are friends. “We’re very close. And yes ,we’re friends. But there is still that respect in him for me .He can never cross the line. If I enter a room while he is relaxing, he will spring to his feet.”
Success, says Rakesh Roshan, has not changed his son over the years. “He is still the same hard-working boy who wraps his omelette in a newspaper and rushes to his shooting in the morning. That kind of dedication is very rare. Any director including me is lucky to have him on board. He is fully with the director. He makes no distinction between working with me and working with an outside director. He is equally involved in both cases.”
Rakesh Roshan has enjoyed Hrithik’s films outside the family banner.
Says the proud father, “I liked his performance immensely in Jodha-Akbar, Aganeepath, Guzaarish and specially Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara where he had to play a normal regular guy. That’s really difficult to do. He never let us feel a superstar was playing that role.”
Getting emotional, Rakesh says, “He can work with outside directors. But I’d never work with any other actor, unless I am making an out-and-out heroine-oriented film like Khoon Bhari Maang. I might be tempted to make a film with a female protagonist. But only if Hrithik is too busy to work with me. When I was an actor I could feel a filmmaker lurking within me. But I was never satisfied as an actor. I had a big hit like Kaam Chor. But that helped Jaya Prada’s career, not mine. I knew God wanted me to be a director. Now I feel Hrithik who is such a successful actor, far more than I ever could be, has a filmmaker lurking within him. He will hundred percent direct a film some day. Mark my words, he’ll be a very fine director. I am sure of that. He may not be a good producer, but he’ll be a terrific director.”
Rakesh Roshan looks forward to launching Hrithik’s sons as heroes. “Provided they want to be in films.I’d love to launch them.My blessings are with Hrithik.Whatever he does in life my wife and I want him to never change. He’s kind , helpful generous.He deserves happiness.”