EXCLUSIVE: I Applaud And I Identify With His Spirit: Hrithik Roshan On His Photoshoot With Charles Neves Rao
He became India’s most-loved superhero with Krrish, and now Hrithik Roshan — as Charles Neves Rao put it — has become “an angel”. At least, he is for Charles, a visually-impaired photographer, who got an “unbelievable opportunity” to capture the Bollywood star in his camera and HT got the exclusive shots of the two at work. “I really enjoyed myself [at the shoot] and the results also prove the same,” says Hrithik, while Charles calls the actor “an elder brother”. And Hrithik too, like an elder sibling, constantly encouraged and praised Charles, and even gave him some handy tips about photography throughout the photo shoot.
Hrithik, how was the experience of doing such a special photo shoot?
It was thoroughly enjoyable. I had only heard of such amazing stories — especially about blind photographers, but I never experienced being shot by one. So, I was very curious and looked forward to the experience. It really turned out to be a celebration of the human spirit. Shooting with Charles also reaffirmed the artistic rule that if you are a true artiste, then you will always have certain specialities. His photography has its own characteristics. So what came out in his pictures has never been captured by any other photographer.
What has been your biggest takeaway from this shoot?
It was very interesting and absolutely amazing to see that a person, who has obvious limitations, doesn’t choose to see it as a handicap. I could see that he was a little hesitant in the beginning and even struggled a little bit, which happens with any photographer vis-à-vis technical issues or light adjustments, but the entire flow of the shoot was really pleasurable.
During your conversation with Charles, you mentioned that if not an actor, you would have become a photographer?
I love beautiful pictures. I capture everything — mostly my experiences — in pictures and videos. So, when I travel, or go for a vacation, or try out an adventure, I shoot a lot of interesting frames, moments and angles that really excites me. So, if not an actor, there is a good chance that I would have become either a photographer or would have done something related to photography (smiles).
Do you personally identify with the kind of indomitable spirit that people such as Charles showcase?
For me, it happens automatically. So, I applaud and identify with that spirit. Somewhere, that instinct comes out in my work as well. So, for me, it’s a good and positive thing. As for Charles, he is a man who has lived a very diverse life and has already experienced many things. I hope he continues to inspire others, including me, to turn weaknesses into strengths.
After playing a blind person in Kaabil, do you think you can identify more with visually impaired people and have a deeper insight into their lives?
I wouldn’t attribute what I feel [about visually-challenged people] to Kaabil. It’s something that I have an affinity with. It’s so instinctive that I wouldn’t credit it to any of my roles or films. Nevertheless, I am very proud that through Kaabil I, at least, had a chance to give more exposure and awareness to the spirit, values and qualities of such incredible heroes, who are all around us.
Do you think there is a need to alter the way we look at or handle disabled people in general?
As a society, we have to become more inclusive, and by ‘inclusive’, I don’t mean that we should sympathise with them. For instance, when we speak to them, we should be absolutely normal and not be extra nice and not go out of your way to please them. So, applaud the good and point out the bad, if there is any, but keep things equal.
Personally, have you ever had any such experience?
Yes, I remember a very pleasurable interaction with another visually impaired person. So, I had asked him whether he had a girlfriend and he said, ‘No’. So I replied, ‘Why not since you are a handsome guy?’ He just smiled and turned to ask me, ‘Do you have a girlfriend?’ When I said no, he said, ‘Why? You are a handsome guy (laughs).’ In that one instance, he made both of us absolutely equal and proved that not having a girlfriend has got nothing to do with physical disabilities.
You must have been caught totally off guard…
I found it amazing (smiles). It really taught me that my question itself was wrong because I asked him whether he had a girlfriend or not because he was blind. But he turned things around and made things like, ‘What are you talking about and why don’t you have a girlfriend?’ That kind of spirit only goes on to tell us that we all should look at them in a very normal manner.
Charles, you must be on cloud nine after having done a photo shoot with Hrithik?
It was a great experience and a dream come true for me to shoot Hrithik sir. He is such a big star but still so down to earth. He is like an angel to me. Like an elder brother, he gave me some really good advice about life and photography. I will always follow his principles. I think he had taken out half hour for the shoot but ended up shooting for one-and-a-half hours, which was amazing.
Have you been a Hrithik fan?
Yes, I am also an ardent Hrithik Roshan admirer. The entire shoot was unbelievable. Hrithik sir gave me the same kind of love and respect that he would have to any other able-bodied person. I must have watched Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai (2000; Hrithik’s debut film) over 100 times. I’ve always loved his dancing and acting skills. I have also seen Koi… Mil Gaya (2003) multiple times and love his child-like avatar in it.