What has shaped your vision?
Despair and frustration. I have worked at a chemist shop and as a security guard at a factory at Shahdara, Delhi, but never felt fulfilled from within. One day, I watched a play with a friend, which changed my perspective towards life. Here was a direct, uncorrupted medium that upheld merit. Actors got their due based on individual talent and potential. I joined the National School of Drama and watched hundreds of plays to attune myself to the art.
Would you call your portrayals self-reflective?
Yes. I have emerged out of the common man. The common people have been my inspiration. I understand how they struggle, why they scream or why they get involved in misdeeds. I see through the different facets of their personalities. Their world is familiar to me and that manifests in my performances. I am amidst them and vice versa.
Why do you favour the censor board’s decision to scrutinise ‘item numbers’?
I stand sternly against the airing of item songs on TV. Television is a medium that reaches out to everyone, including children, and these sleazy songs are shown throughout the day. The intent of an item number is never anything good or constructive. It is unfair to manipulate TV viewers. Filmmakers focus the camera on the dancer’s thighs or use words with repulsive connotations; it is demeaning and vulgar. Wrong messages may be conveyed to kids through innuendos in these songs.
Why is it important for you to become the highestpaid actor in the industry, as you claim?
I want to be the highest-paid actor in the film industry, not because I want to be rich and famous, but because I want to defeat the notion that only mainstream, commercial actors deserve to make money. I put in a lot of hard work and dedication. I have the right to earn 100 crore because I am equally religious about my work. Offbeat actors do not get their due. It seems that good acting has no merit. I detest the way actors belonging to ‘parallel cinema’ are taken for granted. I want to standardise perceptions. If a commercial or mainstream star is bankable, then so am I, and equally at that.