Your film Om Shanti Om is partly set in the ‘70s. Does the ‘70s have any special fascination for Farah and you, since there were elements even in Main Hoon Na?
Om Shanti Om traverses eras from the 1970s till 2007. We are not spoofing anything from that period but paying a proper tribute to it by recreating the era. Since I was born in 1965, I have obviously grown up on the films of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Not many are aware that the controversial term ‘Bollywood’ was first coined in that decade. So you will get to see the bell-bottoms, the side-locks, the dog-collars and of course the music. In the first half we even got a legend like Pyarelal to contribute some authentic ‘70s music. I personally love the music and cinema of that era.
What was director Farah Khan’s contribution to your ‘retro’ performance here?
Oh she just said that the acting in those days used to be a bit over-the-top and since I am prone to overacting I would carry off that kind of acting pretty well! I must say I am particularly grateful to Kirronji for her helping me with detailed nuances!
The title intrigues us, since the cult song of that name was also co-composed by Pyarelal with Laxmikant, and was from Karz, a film revolving around reincarnation like OSO. There was even speculation that it was a remake of that film. So could you explain the title?
Oh that was Farah (Khan)’s idea. In my previous birth I play Om Prakash Makhija, a struggling junior artiste who is in love with Shanti, a top heroine. His friend, played by Shreyas Talpade, tells Om that he will never become a big star with such a name. But in the present birth he is Om Kapoor, a superstar who has no talent at all! He calls himself OK for short, since the director tells him that if he gives a good shot, and also because it’s his abbreviation!
So how would you describe the film?
Different people will have their opinions, but since we have always planned it for a Diwali and Idd release it is obviously a light film with elements of a period drama, music and emotions.
And was the now-famous six-pack abs also Farah’s idea?
Yeah it was. I went into body-building because she thought that my 2007 avatar of a superstar needed it, for most heroes of today are very particular about physiques. I was always keen on this too, but thanks to my back problems I was unable to follow up on it. So now I did back exercises, some 500-700 crunches every day and diet control too. I have always looked up to Salman Khan and Hrithik Roshan for being so disciplined and focussed in this matter. They guided me too. I would now request all young people to please work out everyday and keep a healthy mind in a healthy body. My kids love my abs and I am glad I made the effort!
And did you really need the conglomeration of stars in a song ?
Yes, the backdrop of the story is the film industry in these four decades. I am very touched and thankful that so many of my seniors as well as contemporaries very sweetly obliged Farah and me, especially Dharamji, Shabanaji, Jeetuji, Mithunda and others. Even Rakesh Roshanji came in.
Will a newcomer like Deepika Padukone match the image of a top heroine that she plays in the film, especially opposite you?
Deepika is very talented and in fact I hope that we won’t let her down! I am a big fan of her father Prakash Padukone and so I cannot afford to fail her! By the way she’s taller than me and that’s her biggest plus point for me!
The release dates of Saawariya and your film are clashing.Couldn’t that have been avoided?
(Shrugs) I agree that business is affected to an extent when two big films release on that day, but I am hoping for the best. I do believe that both films will make their mark and I refuse to think that we have the edge just because Shah Rukh Khan is there. Saawariya may have two debutant stars but it is a huge film. Sanjay Leela Bhansali is a very big name and Columbia Pictures is a huge brand. So I do not think that OSO is a bigger film. Besides , I must say that I am emotionally attached to the team behind the other film. Sanjay Leela Bhansali has made Devdas, which will remain one of my career-highlights. I have a very deep relationship with Ranbir and Sonam, who are children of my very dear friends Rishi Kapoorsaab and Anil Kapoor, and there are Salman and Rani too.
In fact I am as anxious about OSO as any father would be about his kids doing well when they go out into the world.