How does one describe this man who has gone beyond all kinds of descriptions? I have been following his rise to reach the place where very few can even dare to dream of reaching and have exhausted all the best ways and have almost given up in desperation because he has gone far above some of the all- time greats of this millennium. But, I keep trying and will try as long as I have to talk about him and there is no end to talking about him, because his achievements only keep growing with the passing of time. He celebrated his seventy-first birthday and at a time when other men his age would be tottering grand-fathers waiting to see time pass by, this man has only begun a new journey which seems to have no end. He is much more active and much more popular and much more in demand than some of the best young stars of today.
What is the secret of this ”mysterious” man? The answer to this question has still to be found. In the meanwhile, he finds time from his very hectic schedule (sometimes crossing all limits of time) to answer some of my questions and every answer bristles with unbounded optimism and the will to go on and on as long as he can do it all
How would you personally sum up the seventy-one years of your life?
It would be impossible to sum up 71 yrs of any individual’s life in a few sentences and words. Suffice to say that I feel blessed to have been born to my parents, who brought me up with all the right values, gave me the best of the East and the West, allowed me to pursue my love for the acting profession, and to the almighty to have given me more than what I deserve. The love and affection from my well wishers have been an inspiration and almost humbling experience and it is something that I shall never be able to re-pay..
What is the secret of your energy at your age?
Even though I do not endorse it anymore – Dabur Chavan Prash !! No…But seriously, I do not understand why people question me on this. If my body responds to work I would make every effort to allow it to perform
How do you manage to work on so many different ideas, plans and projects at the same time?
As an actor it is our professional commitment to be so. We are employed because of this ability.
Is it true as some people believe that you work almost round the clock, even all night?
There have been times and days when I have, if the work so demands.
What is the reaction you have received from the seventh season of KBC which is just over?
I do not have the expertise to look into results. I like to assess my own work, and in that I can say that I try to follow what my brief has been for the program. I get many reactions from those that see it, and they seem very complimentary.
Will you continue doing KBC after seeing the reaction of seven generations of people which includes the youngest generation of today?
My continuance in KBC shall be determined by Sony. It is their call.
There is talk about your doing a full-fledged TV serial, how far is it true?
Yes true … And we are almost in the half way position on it.
What films are in the line-up for you?
At the moment I have started work on Bhoothnath Returns and after that there are several projects that await starting – the projects of R. Balki, Sujoy Ghosh, Shoojit Sircar, Anurag Kashyap, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Abbas–Mustan and a few others .. But better to talk of them when they are on the floor !
You seem to have taken a liking to work with a new generation of directors. What special do you find in them?
That they are young and filled with so much enthusiasm and energy to do well and to succeed. My admiration for them is immense, as also with the entire young generation of actors and actresses, makers and technicians. It is quite simply a glorious time to be associated with filmmaking in India.
I have met a number of filmmakers who say their scripts are lying with you. Are you considering some films made by filmmakers who have not directed any films till now?
Yes, that is true, but time constraints and my excessively busy schedules have prevented me from giving them the much deserved attention.
What kind of roles are you going to play from now on?
Ones that suit my age, of course!!
Who are the stars of today in whom you see a bright future?
I shall not discriminate, for I find the entire younger generation, just so well prepared and talented that it would be impossible to rate one against the other .. They are all quite brilliant!!
You have just received the Hridayanath Award. What do awards mean to you at this stage of your career?
Awards are the sentiments of the giver. I accept them more to respect the sentiment than to gloat in the accolades that are narrated in their reasons.
And lastly, one question which I have always wanted to ask you and something that has baffled me as a human being. How do you manage keeping with time when everyone talks about not having time?
If a commitment has been made then it is only ethical, in my considered opinion, to honour it. It is possible to find time for everything, at the proper moment.