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September 4, 2000
Fiza is not a launchpad like Refugee or Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai'
Some people make big splashes. And, by dint of those splashes, get themselves noticed.
Some people make tiny little ripples. But still manage to get noticed.
And so it happens that there's the little-ripple Bikram Saluja making a debut in Fiza, right alongside big-splasher Hrithik Roshan.
rediff.com's Nidhi Taparia spoke to Bikram about his low-key launch:
How did Fiza happen?
Well, I've been acting in theatre over the last two years. I acted in about seven different plays to acclimatise myself with being in front of people, being onstage...
I'd had met Karan Johar who was scripting for his next film. Since he hadn't finished his script, he asked me to meet Khalid Mohamed. I did. And Fiza happened.
Ideally, I would have liked to wait another two or three years, do some more theatre before getting into films, but...
Weren't you apprehensive about the fact that Khalid Mohamed is a first-time director?
Not at all. I had great faith in Khalid's ability as a director. He gives you a lot of freedom to emote the scene as you perceive it.
What has the experience been like?
It's not a launchpad-launchpad. Not a debut film like a Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai or Refugee for Hrithik or Abhishek. There is nobody to promote me in this industry. I have to work my way up the ladder.
I had read the script, screen-tested for it. And I signed the dotted line knowing exactly what my role was all about.
It's a decent beginning, and the role offers scope for me to perform. I figure even if I have done my job decently, I will be noticed.
Besides, I had to start somewhere, and I figured it was a great setup to start with -- Khalid Mohamed, Santosh Sivan, Karisma, Hrithik and Jayaji...
Were you hit by nerves working with the likes of Karisma, Manoj, Hrithik, Jaya Bachchan…?
Actually, it's been very nice. They've all been very helpful… Especially Karisma, whom I had a majority of my scenes with. She would always suggest improvements, help me out...
To answer your question, no. I was not in awe of them. I wouldn't have been able to act, if I was… I had to stay focused, concentrate on my role and just perform.
Didn't it worry you that after Hrithik's successful Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai, you wouldn't figure much in the scheme of things?
See, I knew what my role was when I signed for it. I didn't walk into it with my eyes closed.
And Hrithik always had a better role than mine. There was never a question otherwise. If I let myself worry about things like that, I'd never get anywhere…
I was there to do my job, which I think I have done to the best of my ability.
But Hrithik is a nice guy. We actually have two scenes together. One which we shot before Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai released and one after. And he's still the same. He knows where he's coming from, knows where he's going...
You have a romantic number with Karisma in the movie. Did you enjoy dancing around trees?
Actually, it's not a dance. Which is a pity, because I love dancing! It was a melodious romantic number.
How would you rate your performance?
I'm very critical about my work. I have very high expectations of myself. But I guess I'll wait and watch whether people like it or not. Whether some director thinks I have the spark or that fire in me… Because if it's a good beginning, it's half the battle won.
Besides, it has been quite a long wait for the film to hit the screen. And since the movie has overstepped the scheduled time limit, some of my scenes have been trimmed. I hope I still manage to make an impact…
What kind of an actor are you?
A director's actor. He can mould me, channelise my creative efforts the way he sees fit. I am there for the taking if he wants to bring out the best in me.
I like working on my scenes, think my lines and dialogue delivery. I am always stressed out before a scene.
How has theatre helped you as an actor?
Theatre has satisfied me in a way modelling couldn't. I had to think. Theatre's filled my life. Working hard for two months on a play, rehearsing, gaining confidence to emote in front of people, learning a new medium...
Whether it's a period drama like Vasavadatta or a platform play like Karma Bhoomi, it has been a passionate high... a learning experience.
And that has helped prepare me to act in front of the camera. I'm more prepared with my diction, my intonations, my expressions and my body language. There are subtle changes that one has to make while adapting from the stage to the big screen, but those came quite easily.
What are your other projects?
There's Partho Ghosh's Paanchi, with Manoj Bajpai and Mahima Chaudhary. I play a naïve, innocent village boy trapped in the tangles of corruption in a big city.
I am also playing a married man who has an extramarital affair in Roshni, a film for Sony TV, directed by Karan Razdan. That's a very loud, brash, aggressive character. And I am looking forward to playing both these roles.
What do you expect from Fiza?
I'm keeping my fingers crossed, that it'll give me a good start. Help me grow as an actor… The rest is up to luck!
Also watch the Fiza slide show!
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