Ever since your debut in Socha Na Tha (2004), you have made no bones about wanting to carve your own path. Are you satisfied with what you have achieved?
I think I am just at the beginning. I am very happy with what I am doing; I have no complaints. Today, I am more humble and mature, and have learnt a lot. I couldn’t have asked for more.
Have you been asked to make cinematic compromises?
Integrity is all about one’s character. There is always a compromise here and there. I am just hoping to get what I want and like. I would never do things just to become popular.
What excites you about Shanghai?
This is Dibakar’s (Banerjee) best film till date. I have enjoyed the way it is made and the audience will realise that when they see the movie. I liked the script, the look and a lot of other things about it.
Hindi film heroes have almost always played younger characters. Did you have vanity issues playing a 40 year- old who wears glasses?
This is not the first time I am playing an older character. I have never had any issues playing older or younger characters. I don’t want to limit myself. I want to do everything. I want to do older and younger characters, average, above average, romantic characters - all types of roles.
Did you grapple with the Tamil language? How did you get into the skin of the character?
I wanted to get the accent right without being stereotypical. We always have stereotyped South Indians, Gujaratis and Punjabis. I play an IAS officer who is an egoistic and serious guy. I followed Dibakar’s instructions to get into the character’s skin.
Shanghai is your third film with Kalki (Koechlin). Are you cast together because you do the same kind of films or because the audience enjoys the chemistry that you share?
You should ask the producers and directors that. Kalki is pretty hard working and she wants to portray layered characters.
You were on the sets of Shanghai with senior actors like Prosenjit (Chatterjee) and Farooq Sheikh. What was that like?
Prosenjit is a great actor but I did not have many scenes with him. Yet, I did get to learn quite a few things from him. Farooq Sheikh was there with me in most of the scenes and everyone knows what a good actor he is. His performance is incredible, there is so much precision and finesse.
When you are working alongside actors like Hrithik Roshan and Farhan Akhtar in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Emraan Hashmi in Shanghai, are you conscious of the competition?
I am completely unaware of competition; I am not a competitive person. When I am doing a film, I usually play a part that cannot be done by others and don’t take a part that cannot be played by me. So that rules out any competition. Finally, it is about the film. It is not about individual recognition for a camera angle or a shot — there is a larger picture out there.