MUMBAI— Point to be noted: rarely does an actor reach a stature where all five of his releases and the only three titled ones among his four forthcoming films are directly named after his character.
“Heropanti,” Tiger Shroff’s 2014 debut and hit, referred to him as the ‘Hero.’ “Baaghi” (his second film and even bigger hit) and “Baaghi 2” now, and his two flops to date, “A Flying Jatt” and “Munna Michael,” as well as the forthcoming “Student Of The Year 2,” “Rambo” (Sylvester Stallone has wished Shroff and the movie well, as it is a licensed remake) and “Baaghi 3,” all denote the characters Shroff played or plays in them. Only Yash Raj Films’ action drama, top-lined by Shroff’s idol Hrithik Roshan, as yet, is untitled.
And it is rarer to have a sequel within just five releases in as many years and have the third installment (“Baaghi 3”) announced on the eve of the second film’s release. Right now, “Baaghi 2” sees him in a new look with hair cropped very short – he is playing an Army officer and looks amazingly like his father, Jackie Shroff. Here, then, is a rapid-fire with the actor.
Excerpts from an interview:
Q: “Baaghi 3” announced before knowing the fate of “Baaghi 2” – this is an industry first. How does it feel?
A (Smiles): I am grateful to Sajid Nadiadwala-sir for having so much confidence in our team! I am also happy that the trailer has been so well received. This time, we have a great story and a great cast to back the great action. Expectations are already high after “Baaghi,” and I hope we fulfill them in “Baaghi 2” before moving to “Baaghi 3.”
Q: “Baaghi 2” demanded a transformation in looks, beginning with your hair. How easy was that?
A: I was very reluctant about cutting my hair short, and those who have watched the video of that know it. Sajid-sir and Ahmed-sir (director Ahmed Khan) convinced me, but I felt very emotional and even very scared. Afterward, I felt naked! I did not want to go out and even wore a cap for some time! But people liked my look, and now I have the confidence to experiment and take risks with my looks.
Q: You told someone that you were finally happy you cut your hair, but now you are growing it again!
A (Laughs): Yes, for my next film, it will be back to normal!
Q: But your body transformation, we hear, was hair-raising!
A (Smiles): Yes, we needed 10 weeks of hardcore muscle training, which meant increased calories and more meals, as well as combat training in various forms.
Q: How draining was that?
A: I would just go home, plop into my bed completely sweaty, and doze off minus dinner. I could not even move a muscle!
Q: In this film, you jumped 130 feet off a cliff, and at a moving helicopter. Did you not fear for your safety and get a body double to do it?
A: If I only think that I will be injured, I will be holding back on my energy and will be cheating my audience, which I can’t. Yes, I have never done anything as dangerous, but it is not fair to endanger doubles’ lives each time. We are, in fact, planning to hold a special show of my film for the industry's stuntmen. We owe them so much.
Q: Are you happy being typecast as an action hero?
A: Action is universally appealing, and the rom-com and chocolate boy kind of movies are more urban and multiplex. Action is what has given me an identity and an acceptance in a small way. I want to be like Bruce Lee, Sylvester Stallone and Jackie Chan here, and I am happy I am in a space where not too many talented actors can give me competition. That gives me that much more chance because they are all doing great work! Maybe they cannot do action as well as I can, but the reverse is also true.
Q: But we hear that “Student Of The Year 2” is a romantic musical with you and two heroines.
A (Smiles): Yeah, I am bullied and beaten up in the film. After “Baaghi 2,” it will be an image-breaking change. But I am honored to be a part of a Karan Johar film, wherein he has passed on the legacy of one of his most prized possessions to me.
Q: Do hits and flops matter to you?
A: Of course! When “Heropanti” released, I did not understand what Rs. 55 crore lifetime business meant, and why the film was a big hit because it starred two newcomers and cost only Rs. 12 crore. “Baaghi” onwards, I do know things.
Q: Do you keep tabs on the box-office performances of your contemporaries?
A: I don’t, but my mother (Ayesha Shroff) does!
Q: With two flops behind you, how anxious are you that “Baaghi 2” makes the grade?
A: I am shit scared, yaar! I want this film to work not just for me but also for my team with whom I bonded so well and for their hard work. My last hit was the prequel to this film.
Q: How do you deal with brickbats?
A: I used to worry a lot after my first flop—I would go into introspection mode, then the blame game would start in my mind until I would snap out of it. And I would absorb everything that hit on me like a sponge, but today I can take what I want and junk the rest. Now, I just move on to my next.
Q: Action apart, what is the USP of “Baaghi 2?”
A: The story is what charges me the most. The trailer may have been cut to emphasize the action, but there are so many important characters besides mine. There areDisha Patani, Randeep Hooda, Manoj Bajpayee, Pratik and Deepak Dobriyal. They all have great roles.
Q: How was it working with Disha Patani in a full-length film after the music video “Befikra?”
A: As we share a relationship, the romantic and emotional scenes came easier. Disha has evolved as an actress since the time we shot “Befikra” in 2016. “M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story” proved that she has amazing screen presence.