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This article was written in 2010, right after an interview with Hrithik Roshan who was in NY for the release of Kites. As we hear the sad news about Hrithik & Sussanne’s split, lots of readers seem to be checking my interview with H during ‘Kites’ – no secrets in there but here it is.
Face to Face with Hrithik Roshan & Barbara Mori
‘Kites’ has hit over 2300 screens worldwide but here’s a behind-the-scenes chat with Hrithik Roshan and Barbara Mori which took place just before that. Six or seven journalists sat around the conference table, waiting for the superstars in a room at the Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan. The sizzling ‘Kites’ posters were everywhere, and the two seemed to have stepped right out of them and joined us at the table.
Hrithik Roshan showed how considerate he is, asking all the scribes, “Do you want me to keep all your tape recorders here?” When I hesitated to hand mine over, saying I needed to keep an eye on it in case the battery died out, he extended his hand and said, “Ya, sure! I’ll keep a check on that!”
I thought that endearing, considering that he’s got a lot on his mind – a huge multimillion dollar film about to be released worldwide in two different versions, thousands of fans waiting on him and the global media about to give their verdict on ‘Kites’ – and he was going to keep an eye on my rusty little digital tape recorder to see if the battery sputtered out!
Indeed both Hrithik Roshan and Barbara Mori were totally down to earth and a class act. No superstar airs there!
Asked about ‘Kites’, he explained what a milestone it was. “I’d not done a ‘Kites’ before – whatever I did in the past was preparing me to pull off a character like Jay – it was all a preparation stage that got me ready for a film like this.
The most exciting part of the journey was to unlearn all the things I’d thought important. Earlier I had concentrated on building my craft as opposed to just doing things out of love of the art, and the manifestation of that was a film like ‘Dhoom’ which is all about craft.”
He said he had built his strength through all the films he did like ‘Koi Mil Gaya’ and ‘Kaho Na Pyar Hai’ but sporadically entered another zone where he was not following a preconceived trajectory while acting. “It came out of a space of no mind and I really enjoyed that,” he recalled. “I started questioning and realized there’s more to this art than craft and there’s a life beyond that. My attempt then became to capture that as much as I could. I really enjoyed that and I got better at it through my films.”
Hrithik Roshan in Kites
With ‘Kites’, he said, director Anurag Basu made it very clear that he was attempting to make a very honest film: “There’s something inside you that you’ve been afraid to show and that’s what I want to see.” Hrithik Roshan added, “I understood it was life giving me a sign that I have to have enough faith and let go and just play it by heart.
I think there was a destiny to this film because we ended up having an actor like Barbara who comes from the same school of thought and is so wonderfully honest with what she does – if her heart is not in it she will always question the motives.”
For Barbara Mori, ‘Kites’ marks a number of firsts, her first English film, her first action film, her first big budget film, and yes, her first Bollywood film. She said, “A lot of things are new for me in this film, I fell in love with this script, and I fell in love with this honest love story. So I had a great time, I enjoyed the action sequences, I enjoyed everything.”
The shooting of ‘Kites’ took her to the US for three months and then to Mumbai for two months. She said, “I was really far from my country and my family but I was feeling really at home because Roshan’s family treated me so well and they made me feel part of their family. All the people were really lovely with me and I had a great time.”
As most fans know, there are two versions of ‘Kites’, one is the longer, song and dance Bollywood version and there’s ‘Kites Remixed’ – the shorter, edgier Brett Ratner version, which will only be shown in the West. Asked as to which version he preferred, Hrithik Roshan said, “I like them both! Brett’s version is for a select Western audience – it was his vision to have the film interpreted in a way that would cater to another audience which is an added bonus for us. We are very thankful and feel blessed that someone like Brett Ratner put his faith into this film.”
Scenes from Kites
Asked if this might make ‘Kites’ a crossover movie, he said, “I don’t really understand the term ‘crossover’. I believe in good films and I believe films which are made with a certain kind of honesty and which are about human beings and human stories will cater on a world platform, no matter what, whether it’s in Chinese, English or Hindi, it doesn’t matter.”
So what’s next for the two stars? Hrithik Roshan is doing a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film next, and after that he will be shooting with Zoya Akhtar for a film in Spain, tentatively titled ‘Running with the Bulls.’ Barbara Mori is headed out to Venezula for three months to shoot her next movie and is also shooting a film for her own production company. Mori, who had cancer when she was just 29, has also been part of a documentary, to help create awareness of cancer.
As the various glittering premieres of ‘Kites’ in London, New York and India take place, and the movie opens in theaters across the world, the cast and crew of the movie will disperse and go in different directions, not unlike kites flying in the sky sometimes do. Yet they all will carry something away with them – both Barbara Mori and Hrithik Roshan have kites tattooed on their wrists.
“That’s something we all did while we were shooting ‘Kites’ – it’s like celebrating the journey. It’s forever, it’s the whole world, it’s the universe!” he smiles. “We all have it. Sussanne has one, my dad has one!”
Barbara Mori chips in, “My mom has it!” Adds Hrithik Roshan, “It’s a symbol of how well we connected and shared some fantastic moments.”
© Lavina Melwani
Photo credits for NY images: Gunjesh Desai and Masala Junction.
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