MUMBAI—He’s HEALTH-CONSCIOUS to a fault, and also looks-conscious. “Most of us are today!” said Tiger Shroff. Weren’t things different in his father Jackie Shroff’s times? “My father was naturally fit, today no hero matches that!” he answered. “That was the golden era, and when he got up from his seat, everyone looked at him. But for me, with sports and all, fitness wasn’t difficult at all!”
And “Student Of The Year 2?” “It was a breeze actually, all fun, sports and dances. There was no serious intensity, as in my previous films,” he noted.
Excerpts from an interview
Q: So how was college in “SOTY 2,” something you never experienced in real life, as the media points out?
A: Oh, I lived that dream. It was great because the college here was shown as a place where there was attention to sports, dances and so on, not just studies! I learned “Kabaddi,” which was a lot of fun. I had to work hard to get the body language right. Then I had to look spectacular, and bring in some ‘tiger’-ism!
I think sports should be part of everyone’s lives. Every college should be a holistic experience and make some sport compulsory. So must schools. In this tech-savvy world, every student must get out once in a while for some outdoor activity, and get their dose of Vitamin D!
Q: Your director, Punit Malhotra, says that you excel in dance and action to the extent that he did not want to interfere in any way with those aspects. What is your prime love, action or dance?
A: Dance will always be my first love. During action, you can get hurt.
Q: You had two hits, then two flops, and then a whopper hit in “Baaghi 2.” Did anything change after “Baaghi 2?”
A: Of course! The first thing that I asked myself was “Is this really happening?” I never expected it – 165 crores for my film! Then I thought, this 165 can’t be just that last 15 minutes of action. There was a story that connected, my characters, the layers—it was a good combination of emotion along with action. Why is he fighting and what is he fighting? The action was just a decoration.
I have seen how my life changed after getting that number at the box-office. People are now looking at me in a different light. They talk politely to me, and use the word “Sir,” and I have to remind them that I am younger than them! It feels really nice. People who did not take me seriously, do so now. It was lovely when we were shooting in Dehradun, and some 2000 or 3000 people had come to watch me and were screaming “Ronnie! Ronnie!” which was my character’s name in “Baaghi 2.”
Q: How have you prevented success going to your head?
A: It cannot go to my head. I have seen my dad’s journey, from where he came when he reached, and from there he came down, to again go up. I have too much insecurity, and there is so much to do and prove.
Q: Speaking of action, how is your movie with Hrithik Roshan coming along. Isn’t he your idol?
A: We have shot most of the action and dance scenes. Looking at him on sets would often make me just go blank and forget my lines. I could not believe I was working with him!
Q: And how was it shaking a leg with Will Smith in the “Radha” video – a song from the first “Student Of The Year?”
A (Grins): Oh, that was so cool! Will asked me, “What you doing with your hands and legs?” And I showed him. It was a huge high that I will treasure forever, teaching Will how to move with our steps!
Q: Your father recently told the media that he was glad that you had girls who were also among your friends.
A: Yes, he thought I did not do normal things for my age! Actually, I was a very shy boy. I was okay at studies but was everyone’s hero at sports. To tell you the truth, in school, I was mad about Shraddha Kapoor, who was in my class! But I could not approach her as I was shy! (Smiles)
Q: When will we see you beyond action – and dance?
A: I prefer to look at the bright side. I have an identity as an action hero. That makes me feel good because I stand out in a place where there is so much competition and new actors coming in every second. And I have been here only for five years.
For me, action heroes are always aspirational heroes. Fans want to be like them and even keep their posters. Their life gets some kind of meaning. I want to inspire, not preach, through my work. My biggest idols are Bruce Lee, Stallone, Michael Jackson – all these guys are extremists in their field and speak through their actions. I want to touch every person in every country. That’s my goal, to reach not just one part of the world, but the entire world. My whole journey in a way began when I watched “Enter The Dragon” with dad when I was four, and I decided I wanted to be like Bruce Lee.
Q: Coming to your fitness consciousness, do you ever eat what can be called “normal” food?
A (Grins): Every Sunday is a cheat day and that is the highlight of my life! I have a sweet tooth and eat lots of chocolates. I may have vada-pav, samosas…anything and everything that tastes good! What I eat DOES NOT taste good!
Q: And your fitness mantra otherwise?
A: When I am not working, I do three hours of dance and Mixed Martial Arts in the morning and three hours of gym in the evenings. Dancing is a great cardiovascular exercise. If you enjoy that, you don’t realize how much you spend in calories.
Q: Buzz is that you have received offers from abroad.
A (Nods): Yes, but I have not signed any film yet. I am lucky people have noticed my work, that there is this boy who has this ability in India. Maybe there is a paucity of young action heroes there.
Q: What about the web?
A: No, I like the big screen.