Tell me about your most memorable birthday…
They’ve all been memorable in their own way, even the ones that came during my worst days. I don’t like a big birthday bash. I just want my near ones on my birthday. It’s tough to remember my past. But I want to move on.
I believe you’re trying to get back into shape again?
Do you mean my life or body? My physique….well, I sometimes forget I am 49. But I’m getting there, I promise you. Hopefully by December-January, I’ll be back in shape. I’ve this personal trainer named Lawrence from Los Angeles. He’s fantastic. He makes sure I’m not overdoing it.
Your life has gone through tremendous upheavals in recent times. Do you think the worst is over?
The best thing I did was to get rid of the undesirable people in my life. But I wish them well in life. I’ve no animosity against them ,though they seem to have a lot against me. Even my enemies, I wish well. God bless them.
Are your wild days over?
Absolutely over. I’m so happy, touchwood. God has been kind to me.
Do you feel less stressed in life?
Yes. God has been great. There’s good work coming my way. I’m happy because I’m getting substantial roles. I had to finish my backlog and start fresh. That was really important for me.
You’ve now started life on a clean slate…
I’m so relieved, I can’t tell you. I’m finally able to sleep peacefully at night. I want to thank the whole industry for standing by me. I feel I’ve entered a whole new world now. I’m very happy in my marriage with Maanyata. Everything seems so right for the first time in my life. I just want to do great work and be around friends who are like my brothers.
Your sisters were not happy about your marriage?
This is the happiest relationship I’ve ever been in, and I’d expect my sisters to be happy for me. Going by my past record, I don’t blame anyone for being suspicious of this relationship. My life has been a rollercoaster .For my family specially my sisters, this was just another mistake that I was making. But I feel no one, not even the closest member of the family, has the right to interfere in my personal life.
You really stood by Maanyata?
That’s the least I could do. She has proved herself over and over again, though I’ve told her repeatedly that she doesn’t need to prove herself to me or to any member of my family. But she’s a very warm giving and family-oriented person. And to her, winning over my family was very important. And she proved herself. I’m very proud of her.
Wasn’t your sisters’ approval of your wife and marriage important to you?
It was important. But don’t forget, they’re younger than me. And I felt they had no right to disapprove of something I was doing in my own life. Whether they liked it or not they had to accept it. Anyway I love my sisters and I knew with time they’d come around. The tangles are finally being resolved.
Tell me why do you think Maanayata is the right partner for you?
I’ve somewhere in my heart always wanted a woman like Maanayata. In our society a woman has to make a lot of sacrifices for her man. And Maanyata has done that. I’m not the easiest of persons to handle. Maanyata is just right for me. Nowadays I just wait for the day to be over, so I can get back home to her. And I want to start a family with her as soon as possible.
How do you manage a balancing act between your wife and sister?
There’s no balancing act. My wife is my wife. She’s the no.1 priority in my life. Any spouse feels the same way. For Priya her husband Owen is no.1 priority
Were you deeply disappointed when you were denied permission to contest elections a few years ago?
I really respect the honorable court’s verdict, not just for their decision now but from the time I’ve been in and out of courts. I really respect Justice Kode. He was the person instrumental in getting me out of the terror case. I remember Justice Kode telling in court what I most wanted to hear. That I wasn’t a terrorist. It was the happiest moment of my life. That day I missed my father. Because he lived only to hear those words. And although the honourable Supreme Court did not think it wise for me to contest election because it would’ve opened up a pandora’s box, it did give me a character certificate where it’s said that I come from a good family and that I’m a good human being, a good actor and that I’m not a habitual offender. That character certificate means more to me than winning an elections. I’ve waited for sixteen years for the honorable courts to give me that certificate.
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This one is very close to my heart. Watch the trailer of my 1st Marathi film 'Baba', Releasing 2nd Aug. #BabaTrailer Out Now: Link in Bio #BabaOn2Aug Directed By: @picturewalaraj Produced By : @SanjaySDuttProd @bluemustangcreations Story & Screenplay: @manishchalchitra #DeepakDobriyal @mi_nandita @abhijeetkhandkekar @spruhavarad @shaileshdatar @jaywantwadkar @chittaranjangiri1006 @aaryan_Menghji @jayantgadekarofficial @maanayata @Sandy_Bhargava @abhijitchawathe @nh_studioz #NarendraHirawat @ashok.subhedar @bhaarti_subhedar @tejasdeoskar @arjunsorte @jitendra1700 @ohardikar #RohanRohan @Ro_prads @rohangoks @aasif_pathan @Nutcase19 @rajshrimarathi @zeemusicmarathi @vizualjunkies
Are you at peace with yourself?
I was out control as a child. And I take responsibility for what happened to me . I was in and out of jail. Today my tomorrows don’t seem to be that insecure. I sleep better.
Why are you so hard to pin down?
Because I’m pinned down to a thousand problems. Running between my court hearings and shootings is like trying to balance two big boulders on my shoulder. Sometimes I just feel like giving up. I’ve been fighting to prove my innocence for eleven years. I’ve been lately caught up with what’s hopefully the final lap of the case. Apparently the judgement will now have to wait until after the elections. I can’t take the agony of waiting any longer. I haven’t even been able to enjoy the success of Munnabhai MBBS .
You and Sunil Dutt came together as father and son in Munnabhai.
Well…technically we were together in my dad’s Reshma Aur Shera where I participated in a Qawwalli sequence as a child, and then my launch-film Rocky where though he played my father his role ended before I came on. Initially when I had to face the camera with him for Munnabhai I felt a certain awkwardness — you know how it is. But Dad is so cool. Before we shot together he called me to his makeup van and helped me chill out. That did it.
Salman Khan seems to have modelled himself on you?
I wish he would model himself on my better qualities . I do have many good qualities. Salman should keep a low profile and work hard and get serious in life. All the playing around isn’t finally worth it. Ultimately all of us want to be remembered as a good hardworking human beings. The hit-and-run incident wouldn’t have made such a media splash if it wasn’t Salman Khan. But because he has been constantly in the news he went to jail and had to suffer.
Do you feel you could have done much more with your career if all the legal and personal obstacles?
Maybe you’re right. With the legal hassles happening I can’t concentrate completely on my work. The case is constantly at the back of my mind. But I must say the courts have been truly generous. They’ve allowed me to go on working. God willing, I’ll soon be acquitted. Then I can make a fresh start and focus completely on my work.
You’ve done a whole lot of films with Sanjay Gupta, though none of them has been really successful.
That’s because he never found the right producers. That’s why I told him to produce his own film. Then there’re no pressures from anywhere. Unfortunately Sanjay has not been too fortunate about his producers like Satish Tandon of Jung who wasn’t basically a film producer. I guess Sanjay Gupta got into these kinds of projects for the same reason as Mahesh Manjrekar: insecurity. Why did Mahesh make some of his recent films? I kept warning him that money isn’t everything. Career options should come first.
You’re a very loyal friend. Do you have friends who’ll stand by you during crisis?
Absolutely. Mahesh(Manjrekar) , Sanjay(Gupta), Afzal Khan and Robin Bhatt are there. They’ve stood by me through every crisis. As for those who let me down, after living life in jail and going through legal hassles for the last nine years, I’ve learnt to let go. Yes, there were many people who didn’t stand by me. It made me sad in the beginning. But gradually the bitterness was washed away.
The determination to play characters your own age seems to be part of your character.
Yeah that’s the way I am.One has to accept one isn’t 21 any longer.Audiences certainly don’t want to see me as a college kid on motorcycles and all that stuff.
Your fans say you look like a Hollywood star.
But no one has come up with an offer in Hollywood yet. I can’t start from scratch in a strange country. If I get a good offer, I’d certainly do it. Right now I’m excited about roles in Hindi films.