Ronit Roy is actor who is loved by many. He’s one star who has conquered television and Bollywood successfully. In recent years, Roy has been seen in some interesting roles, as he is on the brink of his next release ‘Sarkar 3’, BizAsiaLive.com caught up with the actor to talk about his acting career that spans more than two decades.
Does it feel like it’s actually been 25 years since you began?
Actually it’s been 25 years since the release of my first film. If you count the years since I started shooting it’s been 26 years and if you also add on to my work experience as an assistant director, then it’s been 30 years. I could’ve answered this question had I actually understood the meaning of it. In a way it doesn’t. But if this question is based on the experiences I have garnered in my life, then yes it feels like it’s been 30 years. If this question is based on whether I have felt this time passed by, then no because my life has been a roller coaster ride. There have been a lot of highs and lows. So in hind side, when I look back 30 years it feels like it’s just been 10 or 15 years back. The reason being the 15 years when I was in Television, they have gone by in a flash. So I guess the answer is yes and no.
You’ve covered a range of medium throughout your career – which do you prefer; TV or Film?
This question is often posed to me and I always say that you’re talking apples and oranges, so there isn’t any comparison. Both the mediums are polls apart. For this, one needs to understand what both the mediums are. Television is for daily consumption, like a newspaper. And cinema is like a book. So to write a book the author takes maybe a year or two or even three depending on his inspiration quotient. The book finally releases and stays on the shelf. But nobody keeps newspapers on the shelves. So, that’s the difference between these two mediums. In terms of preference, they both have their own charm. I’ve been highly rewarded by television. Also I have been highly awarded by cinema. So, maybe, if there was a third medium that rewarded and awarded me at the same time then I could choose that. Because of my lack of ability to choose I tend to have one foot in both fields.
How has the industry changed over the last 25 years, in your opinion?
The only thing constant in life is change. Like I said when I debuted 25 years ago with ‘Jaan Tere Naam’ – my heroine is no longer there, we don’t even know where she is. All the girls who are there like Karisma Kapoor, Raveena Tandon or the heroes who are there like Akshay Kumar who is working but a Suniel Shetty isn’t working, Anil Kapoor is still working. The heroes today are Varun Dhawan, Ranbir Kapoor, Siddhant Malhotra, Ranveer Singh and the girls have changed. The style of filmmaking has changed. The narrative of cinema has changed. Earlier we used to have only single screens. The way cinema is exhibited, that has changed. There is certain corporate culture that has come into the film industry which used to be non-existent at one point. The film industry used to be looked down upon, not a nice place to be in especially for girls. Now this has changed because from film families and big families they are coming here to do work. So this sector has become a lot more organised and it has become professional. Film has disappeared and we are in the digital era. But now I believe films are coming back. So these changes will keep happening. They are time cycles, so when one time cycle gets over the other time cycle starts.
On TV, your most memorable role has to be in ‘Kasautii…’ but did the long schedules of those days take their toll?
They did take a toll when I was doing it. But when I was doing it, I was younger in late 30s or early 40s. If asked to do now I would probably mentally be able to, but physically I wouldn’t be able to do it. Physically it hasn’t taken a toll on me. It might have taken a toll on my family time, but over the years I’ve made up for it. Even if it has taken any toll on me, it has also rewarded me a lot. The supporting factors that I have today in my life are all because of those years, because I toiled those years. If I hadn’t, then I wouldn’t be here and be doing cinema. It’s a risk and reward ratio. Take the risk and if you toil, then you get the reward. I think at that time I subconsciously chose to be rewarded and I toiled. All put together I would say it’s been a very balanced act.
How have you kept motivated throughout your time in the industry?
I look at myself very honestly and I’m a family man and I have kids at home. When I got married, my wife and I decided that I would be the one who would be providing, who would be putting the bread on the table and she would be taking care of the table. So that says I am the only provider in the family, so I choose to go to work every day so that my children’s future is secured. There isn’t any craving or aspirations for acquiring materialistic things. I’ve almost done it all, I’ve travelled across the world, and I’ve seen what there is to be seen. Now it’s just a question of more of the same, so that doesn’t inspire me or motivate me. But my children’s lives are ahead of them and their lives are my motivation.
Who are the actors/stars in TV and film who stand out for you? (to work with and also who you might admire the work ethic of)
Different strokes for different folks, so when you speak about work ethics its weird when they say this actor comes on time(laughs). I find it very weird because you are supposed to be on time. You’re not doing anybody any favours. Also when they say this actor works hard, well you’ve been paid to do so, you’ve been hired to play your character. That’s your job. So, all you’re doing is your job. Having said that when I worked with Mr Amitabh Bachchan or with Hrithik Roshan, the diligence they put in their work, the depth to which they go, their eye for detail and working out every little detail and trying to not miss anything and getting all the loopholes plugged and while doing all of this carrying their team forward with them, now all that is not expected from you. So more than work ethics I am inspired by these actors who put in that extra. Also there isn’t anything like actors work so hard. No, you are supposed to work hard because you’re doing a job. And you must be on time. From my point of view these are normal things that need to be done. In television there are quite a few actors who are disciplined. But I have also worked with some undisciplined actors on television too. So my experience of working with television actors hasn’t been so good. I hope to work with other actors to see how they function.
Has having family who are in the industry too helped you in the years gone by?
No I don’t think it has had any effect on my career or on my personal bearing or on my mindset. I’m pretty much a lone warrior. My brother is part of the industry but he looks after his own career. Our careers don’t overlap. My answer would be in the negative.
Your current phase in your career spans across some of the more non-mainstream films – is this a conscious move?
I think more than non-mainstream films doing a mainstream film is a conscious move. Non-mainstream films are something that I like to do because they stretch me as an actor. When you’re stretched you become more agile. Commercial cinema is putting bread on the table, so doing commercial cinema is the conscious move. I’m just happy and proud to be accepted on both sides. Apart from this there is no consciousness, it’s rolling by itself and I’m rolling with it. (smiles)
You’ve had recent successes with audiences and critics praising your performances in the roles you’ve taken up. Do you have a dream role (in films) as such?
Yeah! I don’t think I’ll be able to do my dream role in this lifetime. I want to play 007, James Bond. But, I don’t think that’s going to go off my bucket list (laughs). But if you go back to when 007 started, it must have started as just another film and then it became a dream role. So dream roles are not thought about you know, they start regular like any regular film and then it just shapes out in such a way that the role, or motion picture or your part in the motion picture becomes kind of a cult. When Al Pacino, Robert De Niro or even Heath Ledger started out doing their roles, they probably dint know they were going to be iconic. So when a motion picture releases and people react to it, that’s when it becomes iconic. So I hope to do in the next 10 years at least maybe 6 or 8 such scripts. 8 is not possible because we don’t have those many. These scripts are very difficult to come by. So in the next 10 years even if I have 5 iconic scripts, I’ll be very happy.
If you knew 25 years ago what you know now, what advice would you want to give yourself?
It’s a stupid question because nobody in the world at 25 can know what they know at 50 because you’re talking about 25 years of life teachings. So now for me to asses that what I know at 50 and take myself back 25 years and restructure my life and give myself advice is pointless and secondly I wouldn’t do that because if I gave myself advice at 25 years, at 50 I would not be because I would not have those 25 years of life’s teachings. So hence, I called it a stupid question. And I cannot advice others because their lives are different from mine. So what I have faced in these 25 years, they may or may not face or they may face in a different way. So I’d rather live my next 25 years based on what I knew at 25, what I know at 50 and then we’ll where we end up at 75.
If I HAVE to give an advice to my friends or fans who are 25 years old, it would be – wake up in the morning and do your thing with honesty and diligence and whatever life throws at you, you accumulate that and you put it within yourself. Allow yourself to change as your life changes and then when you get 50 you look back and smile with what you’ve got.
How would you like to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered as a good human being. That’s it because the rest I’m doing now. Cinema is immortal and that’s why they have archives. But the sad is I speak about maybe Brando or Pacino or Di Nero but I can’t go beyond that because I haven’t seen before that. Similarly in the years to come, like how we’ve forgotten Guru Dutt or Raj Kapoor, people will forget me. There will be others by then. So if anybody ever thinks of me, I would like them to say that he was a good human being.
BizAsiaLive.com would like to thank Ronit Roy for taking the time to talk to us.