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'I was too full of myself'

Randeep Hooda says his faulty attitude did cost him some plum projects, but he doesn't regret it

Are you happy with the response to Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster?
The response has been tremendous. We all did this film out of love, and I certainly didn't expect it to be so appreciated. My phone has not stopped ringing since the release; I am very grateful.

You entered Bollywood with a bang, but after D you vanished. What really happened?
Initially I was blessed with the right offers, but I didn't take any of them up. In hindsight, I probably should have. However, there is no sense of regret. I went through a really low phase for two years... one unsuccessful movie after another. I even felt acting was not a profession for me and went away on a self-exploration trip. I did do theatre throughout though. Today, the fire within me has only grown because I lost out on those big opportunities.

Why did you turn down such good offers?
I was too full of myself. I was this young boy with 'extra blood' in me. I didn't have the right guidance. I thought all I had to do was stand in front of the camera and things would work out. I realise now that's not true. A film is a team effort.

So you were arrogant?
(Laughing) Even though I studied in Australia, I am a Jat after all! We have this inherent high self-esteem, which is misinterpreted as arrogance. Now I know that it takes a lot of experienced people around you to bring out the right product. Only then can your work shine. In the movies that I did, probably something was amiss, though I had put in my sincere efforts.

What brought about your change in attitude?
After I came back with Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, I realised that big production houses and big stars mean a bigger platform. One needs a certain platform to stand on and there are a few offers now. But I still believe that money doesn't make a film bigger; it is the idea, perception and the execution.

Does this mean you are on a people-pleasing spree now?
I still think if you are in the good books of everyone around you, then there is something wrong. As long as I am in people's thoughts, I am fine.

Is it true that filmmaker Mudassar Aziz boyfriend of former love Sushmita Sen and you have become friends now?
I have met Mudassar many times earlier. There is no friendship as such, but if he approached me with a film, I will do it.

On the personal front, rumour has it you are dating Neetu Chandra...
I do not want to talk about it. I suffered earlier when I was involved with someone. I was only talked about because of my involvement.

So who asked you to get involved with such a high-profile person?
(Smiling) It was not planned.

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