It has been several years but the music of ‘Yeh Dil Aashiqana’ continues to be very popular. It is, arguably, one of the best scores by Nadeem – Shravan. The film was quite a success too and one expected it to propel the career of its lead actor Karann Nathh. Karan did a bunch of films after that but after a while, he just vanished. His last release was the 2004 film ‘Tum’ co-starring Manisha Koirala, Rajat Kapur and Natanya Singh. ‘Guns Of Banaras’, which hits the theatres this week, marks his comeback to the movies. In this exclusive interview, the actor talks about his long absence from the big screen, being known as the ‘Yeh Dil Aashiqana’ boy, being a part of Mr. India, stepping into Dhanush’s shoes, the one important advice he received from Madhuri Dixit and more.
People still remember you for your performance in ‘Yeh Dil Aashiqana’, which was your second film as a lead actor. The film was quite successful at the box-office, especially in the smaller centres. What are your memories of that film?
Actually, ‘Yeh Dil Aashiqana’ was supposed to be my debut film. We had shot 70% of the film. That is when Kuku Kohli (director) fell sick I think he suffered from jaundice. The shoot was pushed ahead. I was offered ‘Pagalpan’ during this time. Since we were not going to shoot for ‘Yeh Dil Aashiqana’ for a while, I gave my dates to Joy (Augustine, director). I had certain creative differences with him because of which I did not even dub for the film. Nevertheless, ‘Paagalpan’ got completed and released first. ‘Yeh Dil Aashiqana’ was my second release as an actor but technically, the first film I started shooting for. Till date, people know me as the ‘Yeh Dil Aashiqana’ boy. We shot in Scotland, Hyderabad, Ooty and a lot of other beautiful locations in India and abroad. It took us a month to shoot the action sequences in Hyderabad. I was 18 when I shot for the film. I was overwhelmed by the kind of love I received for the film. It is a film which will always be very close to my heart.
After that you acted in films like ‘Sssshhh…’ and ‘LOC Kargil’, among others. A couple of other films you had signed, including ‘Aashiqui Deewangi’ with Kirti Reddy and ‘Dil Dhadke Baar Baar’ which was to be directed by Anees Bazmee, either got shelved or never went on the floors.
Yes, I did a few films but said a no to a lot of films too. I always choose quality over quantity. Unfortunately, a lot of films which I signed and also shot for did not get completed or released. I am sure your next question would as to why was there such a long gap in between.
Yes, but you did do a film called ‘Tera Kya Hoga Johnny’ which was directed by Sudhir Mishra and was supposed to release in 2009-10.
You seem to be very updated with your information (laughs). Yes, I did do ‘Tera Kya Hoga Johnny’. It was not a very commercial film. It was a character-driven film rooted in reality, like how most of the films directed by Sudhir Mishra are. I had great time working on that film with Neil (Nitin Mukesh), Soha (Ali Khan), Kay Kay (Menon) and the rest of the cast. It was shown at a film festival in Dubai. Unfortunately, it never got a proper theatrical release. That was the last film I shot for.
Now, the obvious question – why did you take such a long break from films?
I think this is a question which I have to ask to God. He wanted me to struggle, work hard and wait for a while before things finally fall into place. I was waiting for the right script to get back in films with. All of us go through hardships in life. It either makes you strong or turns it into a weak person. I think the setbacks I faced in my life made me a much stronger person.
In hindsight, do you think there are a few things you could have done differently to avoid this gap?
I never look back in the past. I always look forward to what the future has to offer me. I guess God wanted me to work hard and struggle for a while. I am happy I go the opportunity to come back. If I manage to create some sort of a mark, it will inspire a lot of other people to bounce back too.
Your grandfather D.K. Sapru was a successful actor who worked in films right from 1947 to 1981. Your father Rakesh Nath was a star manager and produced a bunch of films as well. Your mother Reema Nath, apart from being a producer, also directed ‘Mohabbat’. Did the fact that you hail from a film family make things easier for you?
If that was the case, I would not have to struggle as much as I did. Yes, it is a common belief that people who come from film families have it easy. But, that is not the truth. We might get the first few opportunities easily but after that, we have to struggle to make a mark for ourselves.
‘Guns Of Banaras’ is an official remake of the 2007 Tamil film featuring Dhanush. Did you see ‘Polladhavan’ and decide to buy the rights of the film?
Yes, I saw the film and really liked it. The content was very strong and powerful. I thought this story should reach out to a pan-India audience. I am playing the role which Dhanush played in the original. The reason we set the film in Banaras is that you cannot compare it to any other place in the country. It is a holy city and has a distinctive charm of its own. We have shot in real locations. We did not up any set anywhere.
The film got a bit delayed. What was the reason behind that?
There were a few delays in post-production. Post-production is the stage where a film gets made. We were very cautious and wanted to make sure that the final product turns out to be good.
You also acted in ‘Mr India’ as a child artiste.
Yes! I do not remember much about the film. There is a girl in the film who dies – we were the youngest of the lot. The only think I remember is Mr. Shekhar Kapur telling me “yeh jo bachche bhaag rhe hain, unke peechhe bhaago.” If you see the film, you will realise I am only mimicking the other children. Back then, I did not realise this but now I feel privileged to share the screen with legends like Anil Kapoor sir, Sridevi ma’am and Satish Kaushik sir in the film.
Madhuri Dixit is a close family friend. Have you ever taken any advice from her regarding your career?
No, not really. I have never discussed my career with her. I call her Madhuri didi. I grew up in front of her eyes. She always tells me that always be honest and sincere in whatever you do.
A lesser known fact about you is that you used to be very passionate about playing tennis at one point of time.
Yes, I have played lawn tennis at the national level as a teenager. Sports are so demanding that you have to sacrifice everything else for it. Even though I came from a film family, I did not have much of an interest in acting initially. My mom and dad produced a bunch of films but I never visited the sets of those films. Even my dad asked me to do ‘Mr India’ when I was a child. Later, when I decided I want to become an actor, I had to leave sports behind.
What do you think is the USP of ‘Guns Of Banaras’?
The content is very strong. The action has been shot very well. The music by Sohail Sen is very good. We have tried to put together a very well-packaged film.
‘Guns Of Banaras’ will be your first release in 16 years. Do you plan to be more active as an actor now?
Yes, I keep telling everyone that “iss baar main film industry se court marriage karne waala hoon” (laughs). I am not going anywhere now. I want to keep working. I have no intention of taking a break from films again.