His last Hindi release was the Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif starrer Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani where he had a special appearance. The film was a hit but Upen Patel decided to hang on before signing his next. He was sure that it had to be a major lead role next and even if that meant taking a quick foray down South, step in as a main villain in Shankar’s I, enjoy a major money spinner and then wait for a while before his next Bollywood film calling, he was fine with it. Well, an offer did come his way in the form of Suneel Darshan’s love triangle Ek Haseena Thi Ek Deewana Tha [EHTEDT] which is set for release this Friday.
It has been eight years since you were last seen in a Hindi film. A long wait, isn’t it?
Well, I was waiting for a film that gave me a chance to perform. There were offers but I didn’t want to be a part of these films. When Suneelji spoke to me about EHTEDT, he made sure that I did something that I had never done before. You see me in the songs of the film; I am emoting and performing there as well. I am not taking my shirt off and being macho. He has given me a character with a beautiful emotional graph. This one is a typical commercial film. As for the long gap, I am happy because sometimes you have to wait for a good project to come. It is not about quantity but quality.
As a matter of fact one of your meatiest roles has been in Suneel Darshan’s last directorial outing, Shakalaka Boom Boom.
Yes, it stays on to be one such performance which is close to my heart. People appreciated it too and that feeling was amazing. I don’t know if EHTEDT is my best performance but it is my most honest one for sure. Every emotion that I have felt, I have lived it here. There has not been a scene where I have not felt the emotion. I have been honest to every scene, whether it is the songs or the scenes. More than a typical love triangle, there are so many twists to the tale.
When you decided to pick up this film which is a love triangle, weren’t you apprehensive since Shiv happens to be Suneel Darshan’s son and is expected to walk away with a meatier part?
When I was called for the film then my first question to Sunelji was whether he was making the film for Shiv. He said that he was making it for himself. He said that while he had offered this film to Shiv, he would have still made it even if Shiv said no. He asked me to read the script and understand the role. When I read it I was very grateful because he is honest to cinema. He could have made a solo action film with Shiv but he instead decided to go for this kind of cinema that he believes in. The film is about three characters; without any of these the story falls.
So how do you see the three protagonists in the film fitting in?
Shiv’s [Darshan] character brings drama to the character and my character brings the emotions. On the other hand, Natasha [Fernandez] is the heart. Shiv is ‘deewana’, Natasha is ‘haseena’ and I am ‘parwaana’. I am that guy who gives everything for love. So while a ‘deewana’ would kill for love, ‘parwaana’ is someone who dies for love. My character puts people’s happiness before his.
Meanwhile, you must be happy to see the manner in which music has been put together by Nadeem for the film?
There are some lovely songs in the film. ‘Nain’ is a song that has been beautifully picturised on Natasha and me. Nadeem sir has given some wonderful music for the film. The music here is so melodious and it has an everlasting appeal. It may have taken 20-30 days for people to fall in love with the songs but now they are going to last a lifetime. The music is poetic with a typical Nadeem touch.
You did deliver a hit down South in the form of I with Shankar and Vikram. Ever thought of making south as a base for yourself?
I remember working with Shankar sir who is such a big filmmaker. He had so much faith in me. We spent three years shooting for the film and when it released there was so much euphoria. It became so big on TV as well. Everyone appreciated me so much and the film gave me a huge push. Moreover, it stays on to be the toughest film that I have done. That said, Shankar sir always told me that anything that I sign next had to be at least as big. So I want to make sure that I give my audience something new and fresh. I have got some great offers from down South but then the role has to be substantial. My character must have a graph in the film and it needs to have a powerful presence. I am sure I would be doing something good in South soon.