How 's life,
M: Stop this mister-bister. I don't like being formal,
especially at two o'clock in the afternoon. No correct. As
for life, it's like life. There's rain sometime, there's
sunshine sometime. Morning becomes afternoon, afternoon
becomes evening and evening becomes night. At times, it is
very heaty, at times it's breezy and at times it's cold.
something I don't know already.
M: You're a wise man. Don't tell me you already know about
how every day comprises morning , afternoon, evening and
Why do you always do this to me?
M: What do I always do to you? I'm not a wise man, I am
unaware of what I do to you.
tell me what do you on cold nights?
M: I sleep.
M: Sometimes with my pillows and sometimes with my wife.
I've been faithful to my pillows, I'm never attracted to
another man's pillows… or another man's wife for that
M: I'm not known to be funny. I'm very serious.
M: I make fun seriously… right from my childhood days to
How old are
M: I'm old enough, I'm in my 40s. Why're you asking me? Are
you going to give me a pension?
Wanted to know if you're afraid of ageing.
M: What a seriously funny question. Yes, I am afraid that
I'll grow up. I won't be young, active and energetic. I
won't be able to travel around the world anymore. I'll
What will you
do when you're 60?
M: I'll be young.
just completed playing the title role in Jabbar Patel's
ambitious project, Dr. Ambebkar. Get serious and tell me all
about your performance.
M: I will, I will I'll use some serious words. Okay, so the
project was like a dream, I feel as if I've just woken up
from that dream. There was a real metamorphosis in my
I'd seen photographs of Dr. Ambedkar… when I see myself on
the screen, I can't believe that it's actually me. The shoot
was strenuous, for over 120 days I faced the camera. I
didn't want to convince anyone else besides myself that I
could transform myself totally for the role.
talking the way actors usually do.
M: You mean I'm talking in clichés, But then what to do? If
I don't give you clichés, you're unhappy. If I give you
clichés. You're also unhappy. You're very difficult to
knows? Perhaps I wish to know more.
M: Your wish is my command, mister.
Don't call me
M: Don't get upset. Take it easy. Allright, so I've played
the part of Dr. Ambedkar, showing him from the age of 25 to
58. I used my imagination considerably. I met quite a few
people who knew him. I think they were quite happy that I
played the role of a visionary whom they deeply admired.
It seems that
you've dubbed your English dialogue yourself. But your
accent is so different.
M: I insisted on doing my own budding. I think my voice is
one of my best assets. How could I let anyone else dub for
me? Not done. I spoke in the correct English-English, the
When there was a suggestion that someone else's voice would
be more authentic, I argued that then the film should have
been made in Marathi since Dr. Ambedkar often spoke to his
people in Marathi. I worked hard on the dubbing, I did my
dialogue in the dubbing studio continuously for 25 days.
Well done. Is
it the best role of your life?
M: I can't brag, I can't say this is the best. All actors
are greedy, they don't ever feel that they've reached the
end of the road. So, I would say that the best is yet to
M: That's the truth. I'll stop acting after I've done my
Which is the
best interview you've ever done?
M: This one I should stop giving interviews after this one.
soft-spoken and tolerant. He tolerated me.
Your views on
the film's cinematographer Ashok Mehta.
M: He's rare specimen. He worked like a manual labourer on
the sets. He does make you a little impatient because he
takes his own sweet time to light the next shot. Apart from
that, he's a cool guy. He has contributed a lot to the film.
If he saw me getting impatient, sitting with my make-up,
he'd pat my cheek and tell me to bear with him. I did, I
liked him because his aim to do every shot perfectly.
Why did the
film, Dr. Ambedkar, take nearly three years to get to the
M: Because of its large canvas. We shot in so many
locations: Nagpur, Mahad, Nasik, Pune, London, America. It's
a period picture, we had to recreate the 1950s and '60s. It
isn't a fantasy where you can take all sorts of liberties.
It's the real thing. Moreover , we had to work on a
controlled budget. Such things take time.
How did you
prepare for the role?
M: I went through the script in detail. Also, I read all the
books I possibly could. I'm an actor, I depended on the
director to tell me what to do.
supposed to be a superstar right?
M: I'm an actor, not a superstar.
actors from Kerala do you like?
M: I like all of them. Jayaram is good. In any case, films
run nowadays, irrespective of the cast. Actors can help in
the initial collections… when they do, they're called stars.
I guess I can be called a star too, because people go to see
Do you like
the word superstar?
M: I'm not crazy about it. You can be a superstar for a
decade, two decades maybe. But you can be an actor till you
How would you
M: You want a serious reply or a funny reply?
The choice is
M: Okay, then I'll say that acting reacting naturally to
artificially created situations. I'm not an authority on
acting… this is what I feel. But their is no machine to tell
your whether you're acting well or badly. They only have
machines to measure your blood pressure and such things.
Tell me, you
were hugging Aishwarya Rai very tightly just now. so…
M: So? So what? That wasn't Mammootty hugging Aishwarya. It
was Captain Bala hugging Meenakshi, the characters we're
portraying. Don't confuse the two things. Understand?
Wouldn't you agree that Aishwarya Rai is very beautiful?
M: But I'm very handsome too.
But you could
never become Mr. World.
M: Why're you being so cruel to me? Never mind. I don't
think I agree with the concept of Mr.World. Even if I did,
sorry it's too late for me to grow muscles and look like
Arnold Schwarzenegger. When you're in your 40s, you can't
suddenly look as if you have rocks and boulders placed on
your arms, chest and shoulders (lights up a cigarette).
Hey Hello, you
once told me that you don't drink or smoke.
M: I only smoke a cigarette or two on the sets.
M: I don't smoke at home. My wife doesn't like it. I'll have
to eat elaichi or some minty sweet before I go home…
otherwise she'll start screaming on smelling my breath. Ha!
I'll tell her I had to smoke because it was absolutely
essential for the scene.
I give up.
Anything else to say?
M: I think all of us have to find out what kind of films to
make for the Indian audience. Remember Mumbai is not India.
What the audience gets today, they accept because they have
no choice. I'm not happy with the way we pass off anything
in the name of entertainment nowadays.
Why not do
something about this then?
M: I'm not a film-maker, remember?
You could be.
M: I'll think about it.
have you liked lately?
M: Analyze This with Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal. I'd
love to play the kind of funny don that De Niro did. The
last Hindi film, I saw was Pyaar Kiya to Darna Kya. It was
allright, enjoyable now and then.
M: Why're you sweating so much? Can I get you some cologne
or something? And why haven't you shaved? Are you trying to
look as handsome as me