INTERVIEW

‘Kaabil’ producer Rakesh Roshan: ‘At the end of the day, what matters is an emotional story’

Hrithik Roshan has played his most challenging role till date in the January 25 release, says the veteran filmmaker.

In 2000, several big-ticket films starring the reigning deities nosedived. Among them were Shah Rukh Khan’s Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani and Josh. That year, Hrithik Roshan made his debut in Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai, directed by his father Rakesh Roshan. The blockbuster signalled the arrival of a new star, one with the looks, body and dancing talent to take on the Khans.

Seventeen years later, it is the Roshans versus Shah Rukh Khan again. The January 25 release Kaabil, directed by Sanjay Gupta and produced by Rakesh Roshan, stars Hrithik Roshan as a visually impaired man who avenges his wife’s murder. Kaabil will clash with Raees, Rahul Dholakia’s crime drama starring Shah Rukh Khan as a bootlegger.

The Kaabil trailer has raised many questions. Can Roshan, who underwhelmingly played a mentally challenged character and a quadriplegic in Koi Mil Gaya and Guzaarish respectively, be convincing as a visually impaired person? Does Rakesh Roshan, who is a master at repurposing old formulas, still have his touch? Can Kaabil hold its own against Raees? And has Hrithik overcome the bad press resulting from the alleged Kangana Ranaut affair? Rakesh Roshan, who has worked exclusively with his son since 2000, cleared the air in an interview.

How has Hrithik Roshan evolved as an actor since ‘Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai’?
He has grown tenfold since Kaho Naa... With every film Hrithik has proven himself worthy of the challenges thrown at him. There are very few actors who have shown this kind of courage and versatility to take up the kind of varied and tough roles that he has been doing over the years.

Every time I put him up to a challenge, he took up confidently – whether it was in Kaho Naa… where he rose to the challenge of a double role and boosted my confidence in his abilities, or in Koi Mil Gaya, where a mentally challenged person becomes the hero.

The ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ director Ashutosh Gowariker had said that your son’s personal setbacks helped him approach his roles with greater maturity. Would you agree?
Definitely. Every challenge, every experience has only made him tougher. And better as an actor.

In a sense, 2016 was a particularly rough year for him.
That is something he has taken in his stride. Yes it was difficult, but I have been through much worse, and he knows that.

Play

Has Hrithik Roshan never had it easy despite being your son? Or perhaps, he has faced more than his share of barbs for being an influential filmmaker’s son?
He has never thought of himself that way. He has always been tough on himself. Even when he made his debut, he worked extra hard, and continues to do so with every film. He has never rested on his laurels or taken advantage of his so-called privileges.

He has seen how I have never had it easy. I have had my share of struggles. I have not followed any formula or pattern in filmmaking. If I made Khudgarz and Khoon Bhari Maang, I also made Krrish. With every film I have tried to do something different, sometimes at a great cost.

There were times when there was no money at home. I was broke. But nothing could break my spirit. I never rushed from one project to another. There were long breaks in between. It was not easy to stay afloat during these times. But I did.

That is something Hrithik may have absorbed and imbibed. Whatever he has been facing, or going through, is part of life. It comes with the territory of being a star, an actor. And he knows it very well.

How involved were you with the making of ‘Kaabil’?
I was hands on with each and every aspect of the film. Even the tiniest thing, like setting the right light in a room for a visually impaired person, working out how much light could he actually take in… I signed off on every little element you see in the film. And I am extremely happy with the way it has turned out. I think Sanjay Gupta has done a brilliant job. In fact, once he started narrating the script, and was barely into the third line, I knew we were doing the film.

Rakesh Roshan. Courtesy Daboo Ratnani.
Rakesh Roshan. Courtesy Daboo Ratnani.

How do you assess Hrithik’s performance in ‘Kaabil’?
It is by far his most mature and challenging role. It is perhaps easier to play a visually impaired person by wearing dark glasses. But in Kaabil, Hrithik does not wear dark glasses at all. It is something to get the body language just right, where the audiences can look into your eyes. It is not easy to get the physicality right. But he has done it.

You have spent more than four decades in the industry and have been active through some of the most tumultuous phases of Bollywood. Technology and audiences have changed.
Actually next year it will be five decades... that long, yes!

Nothing has changed. At the end of the day, what really matters is an emotional story. The audiences will reject your film if there is no emotional connect with the story. As a storyteller, nothing inspires or excites me more than a strong emotional chord. Even when you do a film about superheroes or a revenge drama, unless there is something that touches everyone’s heart, no amount of money spent on special effects or promotions will work.

Will we see some of that emotional connect in ‘Kaabil’?
Absolutely! The heart of the film is on the premise that a visually challenged husband promises to be worthy of his wife and how he grows into the role after a mishap. It is a story with a lot of soul.

And it is pitted against ‘Raees’.
I am not someone who does things in a hurry. I had announced our release date long before Raees. I plan every aspect of my film and its campaign meticulously and there was no way I would change my date to make room for any other film.

Play
Kaabil Hoon from Kaabil.
We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content  BY 

Harvard Business School’s HBX brings the future of business education to India with online programs

HBX is not only offering courses online, but also connecting students to the power of its network.

The classic design of the physical Harvard Business School (HBS) classroom was once a big innovation – precisely designed teaching amphitheaters laid out for every student to participate from his or her seat with a “pit” in the center of the room from which professors orchestrate discussions analyzing business cases like a symphony lead. When it came to designing the online experience of HBX—the school’s digital learning initiative—HBS faculty worked tirelessly to blend these tenets of the HBS classroom pedagogy with the power of new technology. With real-world problem solving, active learning, and social learning as its foundation, HBX offers immersive and challenging self-paced learning experiences through its interactive online learning platform.

Reimagining digital education, breaking the virtual learning mold

Typically, online courses follow a one-way broadcast mode – lectures are video recorded and reading material is shared – and students learn alone and are individually tested. Moving away from the passive learning model, HBX has developed an online platform that leverages the HBS ‘case-based pedagogy’ and audio-visual and interaction tools to make learning engaging.

HBX courses are rarely taught through theory. Instead, students learn through real-world problem-solving. Students start by grappling with a business problem – with real world data and the complexity in which a business leader would have to make a decision – and learn the theory inductively. Thus even as mathematical theories are applied to business situations, students come away with a greater sense of clarity and perspective, whether it is reading a financial report, understanding why a brand’s approach to a random sample population study may or may not work, or how pricing works.

HBX Platform | Courses offered in the HBX CORe program
HBX Platform | Courses offered in the HBX CORe program

“Learning about concepts through real-life cases was my favorite part of the program. The cases really helped transform abstract concepts into observable situations one could learn from. Furthermore, it really helped me understand how to identify situations in which I could use the tools that HBX equipped me with,” says Anindita Ravikumar, a past HBX participant. India’s premier B-school IIM-Ahmedabad has borrowed the very same pedagogy from Harvard. Learning in this manner is far more engaging, relatable, and memorable.

Most lessons start with a short 2-3 minute video of a manager talking about the business problem at hand. Students are then asked to respond on how they would handle the issue. Questions can be in the form of either a poll or reflections. Everyone’s answers are then visible to the ‘classroom’. In the words of Professor Bharat Anand, Faculty Chair, HBX, “This turns out to be a really important distinction. The answers are being updated in real-time. You can see the distribution of answers, but you can also see what any other individual has answered, which means that you’re not anonymous.” Students have real profiles and get to know their ‘classmates’ and learn from each other.

HBX Interface | Students can view profiles of other students in their cohort
HBX Interface | Students can view profiles of other students in their cohort

Professor Anand also says, “We have what we call the three-minute rule. Roughly every three minutes, you are doing something different on the platform. Everyone is on the edge of their seats. Anyone could be called on to participate at any time. It’s a very lean forward mode of learning”. Students get ‘cold-called’ – a concept borrowed from the classroom – where every now and then individuals will be unexpectedly prompted to answer a question on the platform and their response will be shared with other members of the cohort. It keeps students engaged and encourages preparedness. While HBX courses are self-paced, participants are encouraged to get through a certain amount of content each week, which helps keep the cohort together and enables the social elements of the learning experience.

More than digital learning

The HBS campus experience is valued by alumni not just for the academic experience but also for the diverse network of peers they meet. HBX programs similarly encourage student interactions and opportunities for in-person networking. All HBXers who successfully complete their programs and are awarded a credential or certificate from HBX and Harvard Business School are invited to the annual on-campus HBX ConneXt event to meet peers from around the world, hear from faculty and business executives, and also experience the HBS campus near Cambridge.

HBXers at ConneXt, with Prof. Bharat Anand
HBXers at ConneXt, with Prof. Bharat Anand

Programs offered today

HBX offers a range of programs that appeal to different audiences.

To help college students and recent graduates prepare for the business world, HBX CORe (Credential of Readiness) integrates business essentials such as analytics, economics, and financial accounting. HBX CORe is also great for those interested in an MBA looking to strengthen their application and brush up their skills to be prepared for day one. For working professionals, HBX CORe and additional courses like Disruptive Strategy, Leading with Finance, and Negotiation Mastery, can help deepen understanding of essential business concepts in order to add value to their organizations and advance their careers.

Course durations range from 6 to 17 weeks depending on the program. All interested candidates must submit a free, 10-15 minute application that is reviewed by the HBX admissions team by the deadlines noted on the HBX website.

For more information, please review the HBX website.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of HBX and not by the Scroll editorial team.