Your last release Don 2 did business of Rs100 crore. With your next film up for release, do you feel the pressure?
I don’t know why we should limit ourselves to Rs100 crore. Why not a billion crore? Frankly, I don’t believe in numbers, not because I feel the pressure but because it limits me. It’s for people who don’t understand the creativity that goes in the making of the film. So to oversimplify things, they just give a number. If it’s a big film it’s Rs100 crore, if it's medium — Rs50 crore and an okay film is Rs30 crore. Chalo ho gaya. But I don’t make films for numbers, I make it for the feeling. I agree that numbers are one way of looking at it, but I don’t have a standard to follow. I am not being arrogant or pompous when I say the sky is the limit but if the sky is Rs100 crore, I am not going to believe it. Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge has been running for 17 years, it may go on for 170 years. My film has to be felt, it's simple logic. It’s been my life’s mantra. I have played a baddie, a good guy, done wrong films, television, endorsements — I have done things that no one has because I loved doing them, and the numbers have followed. Today, I am rich, have a name and fame.
I never discuss money when I work with someone — I don’t haggle, I never say sirji, dostji mujhe itna paisa do. Yash Chopra openly said that about me, others don’t. I don’t ask for a share in profits or distribution rights. I just do the film. People are scared that I may ask the world but my philosophy is give me money when you make money. If I don’t ask for money, why should I base my film on money?
Don 2 was an action film and Jab Tak Hai Jaan sees you return to romance. Which comes naturally to you?
Action comes naturally to me. I am the Baazigar, I like the meanness of Don, Darr. I have never been a romantic, I don’t read or watch love stories. Given the parameters of the kind of cinema we do, I don’t isolate characters. It’s just that this guy loves more in this film (Jab Tak...), while in another he kills more (Don 2) in Chak De, he’s intense about winning. In Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, which was a yuppy love story, I was a young boy with a backpack, playing guitar — in short, it had all the trappings of a love story that are a part of Indian cinema, but it doesn’t come easily to me. It’s more exciting to be a part of a commercially viable film where you are not the typical hero like in my upcoming film.
Isn’t it a typical Yash Chopra romance?
It is and it is not. After a long time, I play a character who is a little more angsty, unforgiving, a man who is willing to die but it’s being done within the soulfulness of a Yash Chopra film with the modernness that Katrina (Kaif) and Anushka (Sharma) bring. I found it to be a new and contemporary take without losing the classic ingredient of love. It’s more exciting as an actor to discover that I can make today’s SMS generation realise that love is of one type only. Whether you do it on the phone or in your dreams.
Tell us about your next film Chennai Express?
It’s inherently a Rohit Shetty romcom. Hopefully new actors — Deepika (Padukone) and I are working with him for the first time — will bring something new to the table and a different aspect will emerge.