Monday, August 8, 2011

The Book, The Life, and The Person Hrithik

I have been, a couple of times, very strongly advised to read The Geeta by someone I have a lot of respect for. Almost 10 years back I indeed started for it, but could read only one page in a couple of hours that day, as the book appeared to me so deep in its content. Completing that 400 page book then appeared almost impossible for me, given I was so lazy with things.

Then one day I chanced upon a book named The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by some Deepak Chopra. And what a book it was!!! I was so much influenced and impacted by that book that for a long time it guided my philosophy towards life, and I kept on coming to it whenever time permitted or the situations warranted.

Still, I feel I haven't been able to incorporate even 20% of that book into my life. And today I read an interview of Hrithik Roshan. Only once in a year you read such interviews, and this person appeared to me a real personification of the way life should be led, as suggested in that book. And it's the life, its hard earned experiences, that have made this person what he is. Life, indeed, is a much bigger teacher than a book!

Hrithik's Interview:  Click Here

(The interview was so good, excerpts are also about 60-70% of the whole. Please click "Read More" at the end to read all the excerpts.)  

when someone says anything bad about you, the way I look at it is – there is no truth, there is only a point of view. It depends on where you are standing. If a person tells me, 'Hey, I don't think you're a great actor, you're an idiot, you over-act,' or whatever, that's his point of view. In such a situation, I feel it's my responsibility to demonstrate that you should never counter an attack with more attack.

That's the essential path to peace. I want to feel good about myself, and so, what I do is, I type back – 'Well, I try, and now I will try harder; thank you for your feedback.' And I feel good about myself. And he relaxes, nothing has hit his ego, and so he's not going to attack any more. I have brought about peace in this war – even if it is the micro level.

This approach is why we've never heard of Hrithik, the hunk, ever getting into a fight?

I think you have to be the most foolish person, and the weakest person, to get into a fight. The only time you have to raise your hand is if there is injustice being done in the present, right there, where I am. If a lady has been wronged, then I will raise my hand. There is no other situation where you need to raise your hand.

You haven't had an ego-damage moment?

 No, on the contrary, it's only through damaging the ego completely, and nullifying it, and then realizing that you're still alive, it doesn't mean anything, is when you realize it's not important. I have gone through a battery since I was five or six years old. I used to come home from school and weep through the evening, weep through the homework, because I didn't want to go to school the next day. I didn't want to go through the torment of being the guy who is laughed at all the time. I had nothing working for me. Even the fact that I was a hero's son worked against me, because of the sort of school that I was in. It was looked upon as something a little cheap.

Now, when I join the dots, I see that I had to go through all that to be what I am, to reach where I am today. The hammer that moulds the stone hurts, but it shapes you into something beautiful.

Does your wife subscribe to this no-ego ideology?

Yeah... Now she does (laughs). It's taken a lot of time. Now we are in a state where I think she understands, even looks to me for advice if she is in a situation where she feels like attacking back. I'm the one who calms her down.

But surely she must have at times said to you, 'Why don't you respond to this, why are you not hitting back?' That's the expected male response, isn't it?

Yes, there was a point of time when she felt that way. In fact, there was a particular situation in London. It was just after we'd got married, and we were walking down Leicester Square, and there were some badly behaved boys who were obviously high on something. One of them passed by her and gave her a nudge and then abused her, called her, umm, a b**ch. And instantly, she wanted to attack back, and she was physically inferior, so that infuriated her even more. She wanted me to strike back. But my perspective was different. I consider myself the peaceful warrior. If the guys hadn't passed by so quickly, I would probably have walked up to the boy and spoken to him, and made him feel good about himself so he wouldn't need to attack someone like this again.

People are carrying their own frustrations inside and they are looking for scapegoats to vent out, to get a chance to hit out, to release their own frustrations. He doesn't even know her, I've got nothing to do with him. He calling my wife that doesn't make her a b**ch, and that's the truth. If he'd passed me by and said, 'Hrithik Roshan, you don't have a right arm,' what would I say? People will either say the truth, or a lie. He will say, 'You have a right arm'; yes, I have a right arm, I'll keep walking. Or he will say, 'You don't have a right arm'; he's wrong, he's lying, and I'll keep walking. Same thing – he calls my wife a b**ch, I know she's not, I walk on. I don't need to go and bust his face, that would make me one of them. I'm above all that. I would feel defeated. I didn't give that guy what he wanted; he wanted to get into a fight, and I didn't give him that chance.

But, at that moment, she wouldn't have been too happy?

Yes, that is true. But now she understands that it was the right thing to do. Instinctive aggravation is what creates most of our warring, whether in the four walls of our house or at the world-level.

Machismo is a coveted trait in Bollywood. People must needle you over this pacifist approach?

Yes, I'm considered a pushover, I guess. I'm considered to be someone who's not strong enough. There was this one situation that I had to laugh at. We were at Shirdi, with my family inside the temple, trying to find our two minutes to pray. And there were these people from the media, simply refusing to heed my requests to give us some space, some peace. And I had to take them by the neck and simply push them out – and even as I did it, I kept saying, 'I'm sorry, but I just have to do this.' I pushed them out. And by the time I came back home, I had twenty thousand people telling me what a hero I was because I did that, because I stood up for my family – and I laughed at that. I didn't need to do that, it's not right, and you don't need to compliment that.

And the industry (may be I can add- in the society, our families, and our offices -Gaurav), yes, is filled with a lot of people who know more than me, in a lot of ways. But in this department, I find a lot of them behaving like schoolkids, fighting with each other – I said this to him, he said this to me – I feel that should be left back in school.

This sort of thinking is part of you?

I need these kind of thoughts. The most important thing in life is necessity. With me, with the kind of struggle I had to face, I needed these thoughts, to keep me afloat. I often felt I was in deep waters, where my feet didn't touch the ground, and there was just no support, I was drowning. So this is something that carried me, made me think of life in a different perspective. We all want to be happy but nobody is willing to do the things that will bring them happiness.

Among the things that bring happiness in today's world is money – and as a superstar you would have no deficit of it. Doesn't it make it easier to have a philosophical take on things?

I have a good understanding of how important money is. And now that I have children, I want to gather as much of it as I can, yes. But I know what it means. Money is a means to an end. For me, it is also a means to help people. I can never say no to anyone, and if I am in a position to help, I help. I have seen my father struggle for 20 years. I know what it is like to have no money at all. I have slept for four nights on the floor in a house with no furniture and not even a fan, and I remember crying to my mother that I couldn't sleep without a fan.

I must have been about nine. We were thrown out of our building because we couldn't pay the rent. And then for about six months, we lived at my nani's house. My father was too embarrassed to live there, and so he stayed with a friend. And as soon as he got some money, he got this place, and he just had to get us into our own place. So, for the first four nights, I slept on the floor with my family in a house without any furniture and without fans. Those are the memories that keep me grounded.

No cynicism, no regrets after these many years in a competitive industry?

 I think it's a very foolish thing to look back at your life and have regrets for anything that you do. You should tell yourself that at that time, for that place, I did the best with what my instincts provided me. Now you're wiser. As long as you can attach a reason to your failure, you'll learn, you'll grow wiser. But if you just sit and keep saying, 'arre yaar what did I do,' it's pointless. You have to ask yourself, what is the one thing I can learn from this experience which is a 'failure' in other people's minds? If you can do that, it no longer is a failure. It turns into feedback, and you will grow with it. So eventually, there are no failures.

What sort of memories would your kids have? What do you share with them?

I think the poison of our world are the fairy tales that are taught to our children. There is not one fairy tale that speaks of how beautiful real life is, where there is no happy ending. It's just a journey filled with sadness, happiness – it's all there – and you have to live that and know that that's your fairy tale, how you're going to overcome every little obstacle and how it'll never end. The End is something that is a poison; the Prince Charming comes, he and the girl fall in love, The End. The End is something that never happens in real life. Even in death, there is no The End. How do you know if that's the end? You don't, really.

 I personally have built a fairy tale for my children which I narrate at their bedtime. It is on a character called the Blue Light Kid. He is as old as my sons, who are three and five. I talk about all the things that my sons go through. My son came last in a race, and so I created a chapter on that, about how the Blue Light Kid came last in a race. He was in his room and a Blue Light appeared and spoke to him; he asked why he came last, though he worked hard, and the Blue Light told him that he didn't work hard enough. So he works really hard for the next race, and he again comes last, and gets really angry and says to the Blue Light that it's not fair because he worked really hard. And the Blue Light says, 'As I said, you didn't work hard enough.'

I have these chapters and talk to them about things like losing toys. I tell them that you will get excited about your toys and at some point you will also lose interest in many of them. I talk about these little things; hopefully it'll continue till I can compile it all and release it as a real life fairy tale about this Blue Light Kid.

After all, fairy tales are about a world of fantasy, but none of us live in such a world.

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