Are you playing the roles that you always desired to play?
I had never imagined that I will get a role like Haider. The most exciting thing about being an actor is that film makers surprise you with how they see you. I never thought I will get an opportunity to go bald, hold a skull in my hand, say to be or not to be, to play Hamlet, shoot one entire film in Kashmir, get to work with actors like Irrfan Khan, Tabu and Kay Kay Menon. Different people see you at different waves, mould you in diverse manners. That is what makes it like an adventure because you just don't know what is coming next; every time a film starts, I go with a clean slate. Once my film maker starts downloading information on me that is when I start the process of understanding what I want to do with the information.
Haider is based on Shakespeare's play Hamlet which is read by most of the people. How different or similar will the movie be?
Haider is an adaptation and this is the exact feeling that I got while reading the script. When I was sitting there and reading the script, I knew what Hamlet is all about. But when I read the script, I wanted to know more about what would happen next. Through the promo too everyone will understand that it is a very different version of Hamlet. So you have to take elements from that story and put them into a completely new structure with new characters and new situations with new dialogues. Honestly, when I read the script, I felt the content was very fresh. Everything is not exactly how it is in the book; certain elements will definitely surprise you as a viewer.
Absolutely, I feel Haider is by far the most challenging role I have come across. I thought Kaminey was very difficult and challenging with the kind of action and speech defect that was shown in the film. But no, Haider eventually turned out to be far more challenging. I did not feel it when I read the script but when I started shooting, I came to know how difficult it actually was.
New genres always come with a question mark. Did you have any apprehensions when you took up Haider?
There are apprehensions for most films that one does because making films is such an organic process where there are various people working for it and there are certain fears that if you go in certain direction, it can go wrong. These are things you anticipate and understand overtime. Haider had its own pros and cons but that is the risk you have to take. You will eventually know when the film will complete; besides that there is no way.
Does the happy space in your career because of the box office collections of R...Rajkumar or a film like Haider?
There are so many things to do with this. I think what has changed about how I work now is that earlier I used to think a lot about the result. So that used to start affecting me but after so much time that I have spent in the industry, I understood that the right way is to focus on the process. That is what we are truly here for. You can enjoy the process of making films and when you truly focus on that then you can eventually make better films. Because the opportunity to make films in itelf is something that one really dreamed of and one is a part of it now. I learned to enjoy that. The first time I saw the film after the making, I thought to myself that I really do not care about the result. I am just proud that I am part of this film. At that moment, I was really happy that I did a movie like this.
It is that kind of role which requires certain kind of space. There is a lot of intensity, a lot that the character goes through. Portraying that journey was very tiring and I felt that. We were shooting under extreme cold conditions and we had a hectic schedule.
Does it affect you that Haider is releasing with Bang Bang?
All of us knew it way before that Haider and Bang Bang are releasing on the same date. I hope Bang Bang does well because I really like Hrithik Roshan's work. But at the same time I am very confident about my film too and I feel what Haider is offering the audience, Bang Bang cannot and vice versa. There are two distinct choices for people to make. So I don't see both the films clashing in terms of offering the audience the same thing. Moreover, five days weekend rarely happens. Usually a three day weekend is good enough to handle two big films. We have made Haider in a very strict budget so for us to recover the budget of Haider won't take much time. So I have no reason to worry because eventually people want to see a good film. Both these films have to live up to the expectation of the audience and if either of them fails, both the films will not do well.
Well, we hope that Haider proves to be another feather in Shahid's hat and wish him all the best for all future endeavours.