Aakansha Naval-Shetye (DNA; January 8, 2013)
It’s been a while since Suniel Shetty was seen on the big screen, and as we catch up with the actor at his soon-to-be-launched interior decoration store, he reveals that the few-months break from Bollywood was to channelise on this new venture. “It’s Mana’s brainchild, her baby, I’m just helping her set it up. So, she’s been my employer for these past few months (laughs). But post-launch, I will be back to my films,” he says. And with as many as five films under his belt, including Shooter, it’s promising to be a busy year. In an exclusive tete-a-tete with After Hrs the star talks about this balancing act between films and business, and also shares the excitement of seeing daughter Athiya gearing up to step into Bollywood. Excerpts…
You have always been balancing between being an actor and a businessman, but many people say it’s been a distraction for you?
I am not doing anything criminal, so I am not ashamed of managing business side by side. It has taken my time, however, I don’t look at it as a distraction, but as a security. It’s because of this that I don’t have to lose sleep over four-five Fridays, as I know that all my other Fridays are well taken care of. It’s also why I never feel under pressure to work to keep my hearth burning. And so I enjoy every film I do. It’s not like Fridays don’t affect me, but I am content knowing that these Fridays won’t affect my family or their lifestyle.
Most of your contemporaries are ruling the marquee…
…And I look at them with great pride. I aspire to be there too, but it’s never been like ‘why are they there and not me?’ So, there’s never been any jealousy. I am happy for them and they know it too.
But don’t you miss doing the action on-screen, considering you are in a great shape yourself?
Of course, I do. And this year, I am getting back to it.
You have always let your heart rule your head and the decision has not always worked in your favour.
True, but there are no regrets. I have made mistakes, bad choices and taken wrong decisions because of that, but more than regret, I cherish the goodwill I have earned. The friendships mean more to me. Sure some decisions have dented my career real bad, but theek hai, you learn, and move on!
Now, your daughter Athiya is entering Bollywood. Are you hand holding her?
She is an intelligent girl, so she’s capable of taking her own decisions, but yes, both Mana and I are always here. She has been getting a lot of offers, but she is choosing wisely.
Have you drawn any lines for her when it comes to exposure or kissing?
We haven’t drawn any line, but there are certain limitations she has set for herself. We are okay with whatever she decides. Like she came up to me the other day and said that there was a kissing scene in a film. She asked me do you think it’s really needed there? So, it’s her call.
But would you advise her to let the heart rule the head like you did when it comes to films?
No. That is one mistake I would not want her to make. Like I said, I don’t regret my mistakes, but I don’t want her career to suffer because of it. It’s not always good to let success out of your sight for emotional reasons. One person is enough in the family to think like that (smiles).
You seem to have created a content space for yourself at home untouched by your career…
The credit goes to my parents and Mana, who’ve never let me carry work home. They never ever visited me on sets. At home I am a son, husband, father, providing the best I can to my family, outside I work on my terms too. So yes, I am the king of my space!