Q. Do you have an exclusive movie contact with Mukesh Bhatt?
A. No, I can work in others' films as well. Mukeshji treats me like his own child. He is guiding me through my new movie career. I consider him my godfather. My first film with Mukeshji starts in May.I've started preparing.
Q. What kind of preparation?
A. Gymming, stunts and acting workshops... the works. I feel I am starting a new career.
Q. From playing Ram in "Ramayan" on television to the Bhatts' hero - how did this journey happen?
A. I chose to start with the home medium. I'll tell you something about myself which no one knows. Nine years ago when I left my home in Bihar at the age of 19 to come to Mumbai, I somehow got Mr. Yash Chopra's number. My dad, who was an army officer, accompanied me. We both went to meet Yashji to seek his advice and blessings. Yashji told me to start my acting career on television. He told me that's where Shah Rukh Khan started. 'And look where he is today' - Yashji's words still ring in my ears.
Q. For a 19-year old from Bhagalpur in Bihar, it couldn't have been easy to get roles?
A. It was very difficult. So many starry-eyed small-towners come to Mumbai to become a hero. Now I'm finally ready to be launched as a leading man. But let me tell you, I never took television lightly. I worked as hard on television as I will in cinema. A lot of actors take television for granted.
Q. Your family in Bihar didn't object to your choice of career?
A. They did initially. But then they gave up when they realized that this boy will do everything it takes to become an actor. They made the biggest mistake by naming me 'Shashi Kapoor'. Yes, that was my nickname among family and friends - Shashi Kapoor. Eventually, they supported me wholeheartedly.
Today when I see my father's pride in my achievement, I feel fulfilled. He hardly ever smiles. But when I see him smile about my career, I am the happiest son in the world. My father too started with a small role in the army and then worked his way to becoming an officer. He is my hero and role model.
Q. You started your career playing Ram in "Ramayan". Wasn't it a risk?
A. That was considered a big risk. They said any actor who plays a mythological character gets typecast. Everyone advised me against doing "Ramayan" at a time when all others were doing saas-bahu serials. But I thought, why not do something different from others? Then after doing two soaps , I moved into reality shows. So I was paving my way for a movie career.
Q. Your colleagues from television like Sushant Singh Rajput and Ayushmann Khurrana have also given embarked on a movie career?
A. Nowadays television is as important cinema. Even film producers have realized television stars are popular not just in India but abroad.