After the commercially successful Dhoom 2 and Jodhaa Akbar, Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan reunite on Guzaarish, which hits the box office this Friday. Steven Baker caught up with the superstars of Indian cinema on a promotional visit to London. The actors reveal the secret of their successful screen pairing, the magic of working on a Sanjay Leela Bhansali production, and why this film will make you smile as well as cry.
What was it like to work on a Sanjay Leela Bhansali production?
After Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Devdas, this is now your third film with Bhansali. How was the experience on this occasion?
Aishwarya: I knew we would enjoy this experience from the word go, simply because of the way we approach our work. Sanjay is a very dear friend, a very special director in my life, and yes I agree that I am blessed to have got the opportunity to work with him again for the third time in my career. He is not dictatorial about his work. The atmosphere stems from passion. We love doing what we do, and I think that is what we all share in common. We are obsessively passionate about cinema and about finding that magical moment.
That is what you are trying to bring into a scene, that magical spontaneity. Since we all have that in common it was easy to enjoy the process of working together, and co-incidentally, this is my third film with Hrithik and my third film with Sanjay. Individually, I have great working equations with them and I am glad we all came together. Each character has been so memorable and so special, and Sofia is certainly a beautiful character for me to have had the opportunity to essay.
Guzaarish marks the third time that you have worked as co-stars. Has anything changed in the way you collaborate on a project?
Hrithik: I think it is just the same as it was when we gave our first shot together years and years ago. That's what is beautiful about this equation, it has just maintained.
Aishwarya: We just pick it up and take it from where we left off. It's a new film, a new character, and a clean slate, and here we are onboard. We enjoy doing what we do, and I think this is what translates.
Was it difficult to play this particular character Hrithik?
Hrithik: Well, It is a very bright film. It is the happiest character I have played, because of the deep contrast of the backdrop of the intensity of the tragedy, which is why the laughter and the smiles carry much more meaning: to be able to smile while being in such a tragic situation. If you see the pictures, the banners, and the hoardings, you can see the contrast of life with all its problems, and the smiles that you have to conquer them with. That is what this film is about.
Aishwarya, your releases this year Raavan, Robot and Action Replayy seem to be experimenting with a range of different genres and characters...
Aishwarya: Actually, I have been doing this every year for the last couple of years where I have been trying to bring a different Aishwarya to my audiences with each release. Though it is not in our control, you aspire to do that when you have accepted your films for the year. Sometimes different things can unfold and schedules can change, but I am glad that it has been going to plan where I have been able to share a different character with each successive release.
Having said that, it is what we as actors enjoy doing. This time it is so visibly obvious because the releases have come fairly close in succession. But this has been the pattern right since Devdas where there has been a different character each time. So here Hrithik is playing Ethan after Akbar which is a very different character to last time. Our audiences like this, and we as actors like to experience this also.
Hrithik: Monotony is something that kills passion. As artists it is our duty and mission to explore different aspects of character.
From the first look of the project, Guzaarish seems to contain a little bit of everything. Would you say this is a 'masala' film?
Hrithik: I would not term it as a 'masala' film. What I would say is that it is some kind of wonderful. You will have a smile on your face and a tear in your eye. It is timeless.
Aishwarya: It is a film that cannot be slotted. It is a beautiful slice of life and an experience.
Have Susanne and Abhishek seen the film?
Aishwarya: Not yet. Even we have not seen the final cut. Tomorrow is the night where we will all get to see it for the first time in Mumbai.
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