Goodbye television, hello the movies. Besides an occasional performance or two on the big screen, he has made a stronger impact as a first-time director with Rice Plate , largely acknowledged as the only appetising episode of
. After nearly a decade in the Mumbai show whirl, he has arrived. Rohit Roy yaks with Ashok Rai.
Which question would you hate to be asked right now?
Ha! The question – did Shabana Azmi put you under severe pressure? Right from the day Rice Plate started to the day it was released, it was only – are you okay? How are you coping with Shabana Azmi? Actually, I think she became quite fond of me.
Why? Why? She drove you up the wall or what?
No, no. During the script discussions, there were a few issues. She wanted to know why her character kept bumping into Muslims. She wanted the script to be more subtle and she was right.
Are you going to be politically correct about Dus Kahaniyaan too?
See, opinions are always open to debate. No one could possibly like all the 10 stories. Amazingly for me, not one person has told me that he or she didn’t like Rice Plate.
You know what? If I were in your place, I’d hate to be asked – are you Ronit Roy or Rohit Roy?
Often I can’t tell the difference.
(Polite ha ha) Absolutely, this Ronit-Rohit thing is crazy, all because of one danda ?
Danda ? N and H, na? One letter of the alphabet. Recently, I was very bugged with a reporter. He actually mistook me for Ronit.. and said that I was misbehaving in public, that I was boozed out of my skull. How could I ever be drunk? I don’t drink.
Except when there’s a celebration.. I have a chhota drink.
I must say that you’re very virtuous. But was Ronit misbehaving or what?
I wouldn’t think so. He’s always very properly behaved, I haven’t asked him about this. But when that misbehaviour report came out, my mum was very upset.
Did she slap you then?
No, but she was upset, quite upset.
Has she ever slapped you?
Yaah of course. Though I was a studious kid, I’d annoy her and then get a hard one across the face. Mum was a teacher at a school in Ahmedabad.
Ronit-Rohit does seem to be a Ram aur Shyam kind of situation. I bet he’s getting praised for your film.
Listen, everyone can tell who’s who. If stories about him are connected to me and vice versa, it’s usually because of typo errors.
Wow. Ulp, often I can’t tell the difference between ‘h’ and ‘n’.
Howwwww? We’re as unlike as chalk and cheese. But yes, we have a similar baritone voice (suddenly sounds like Amitabh Bachchan in his better days). He’s bada bhai , like a father figure, four years older than me.
How old are you?
Pleeeeeeease sir, pleeeeeease sir, yeh sab nahin poochhiye
How old are you? 35?
Below that. Go tell it to the Marines. Pleaaaaaase sir.
Chalo, Rohit.. or is it Ronit.. was a hit with Jaan Tere Naam . Then…
Yes, I saw Ronit bhai go right up, then down, down, down. He launched his security guard agency. Actually, we’re pukka Bongs who were based in Ahmedabad, dad had a pharmaceutical instruments business there.
I came to Bombay with the idea of doing my MBA, modelling, that sort of thing. For a while I assisted Kunal Kapoor, Shashiji’s son, on his ad films (shouts out to a spotboy…Abhi fataafat aaya..abhi yaaa ). Sir, give me five. Five? Five minutes. I’ll just give my shot.. five.
(Rohit is shooting for a film titled Mittal versus Mittal, with Rituparna Sengupta..he takes 45 minutes to return.. by then, I’m majorly huffy)
What’s this! Do you think you’re bigger than.. even Ronit Roy?
No, no, sir. Please don’t joke. You know how it is with giving shots.
No, I don’t know. Anyway please tell me who will see this Mittal versus Mittal.
Woh to waqt hi batayega, sir.
Films huh? Given up on television?
Yes, no more TV. Prominently, I was in Swabhimaan, Baat Ban Jaaye, Virasat and Kkusum for a while. I felt saturated. Television was a training ground.. then I did Plan and Shootout in Lokhandwala.
Which means you’ve only been noticed by White Feather Films. Do you get paid there?
Trust me, Sanjay Gupta’s like family. Of course, we do get paid. There are no discussions on this subject at all.. but I insisted that I shouldn’t be paid for Rice Plate. Now, my wife (Manasi Joshi) and I both have roles in Alibaug.
<b3>Rohit, what do you want to be eventually? An actor-director following the path set by Raj Kapoor and Woody Allen. You don’t want to be Subhash Ghai?
Subhash Uncle kahan acting karte hain?.. only those small appearances.
After the socially concerned Rice Plate, you can’t possibly direct a David Dhawan-style movie.. right?
Sir, I had lived in Gujarat for 15 years. I’ve seen the communal divide first-hand. The issue of secularism was important for me, I had to do Rice Plate.. it was written by Sudipto Chattopadhyay .
Now, I’m completely blank. I’d like to do a film on relationships but now I know that I have to direct a film weightier than Rice Plate, something really strong. Before I start working on that I’m going to America for a break with my wife and my daughter (five-year-old Kiara).
You sound too goody-goody. No binges, no affairs.. er before marriage?
Oi sir, once a filmmaker told me, “How will you become an actor? You don’t even drink.” As for affairs, okay, I had one major relationship when I was in college. Because we broke up, I came to Bombay .
I hope she’s well settled somewhere with kids. So, see if there had been no heartache in my life I would have been a businessman or corporate executive. Listen sir, you didn’t notice my performance in Shootout in Lokhandwala or what?
I did.. but to be honest I thought it was Ronit Roy.