You've quietly gone and signed Pakistani actor Imran Abbas for Heera Mandi?
So quietly that even I don't know about it. I haven't signed anyone called Imran Abbas. I'm not making Heera Mandi right now. It may happen much later. When it starts, we'll think of the casting.
So have you met this Imran?
Moin Beg, writer of Heera Mandi wanted me to meet this actor. So I did, almost a year ago, and I immediately realised he wasn't the actor I was looking for. The next thing I know, I'm supposed to be arranging this guy's visa to India. What nonsense!
At the moment, you're working on...
I'm directing another film with Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai. I'm very excited about the film, and so are they.
So, no newcomers?
No. I need an experienced crew this time. I need their expertise.
You continue to be fearless in spite of Saawariya?
Fearlessness is my biggest asset as a filmmaker. I will continue to make films that come from deep within me. I cannot make assumptions on people's tastes and make films accordingly.
Why don't you clarify the misconceptions?
Kuch to log kehenge, kehne do. I can't bring myself to become the master of sound bytes. I've already decided whom to work with in my next project. And should I look at Pakistan for actors? We've very talented people in our own country.
What prompted you to sign Hrithik?
We'd been wanting to work together for a very long time. I've always been impressed by his sincerity as an actor. I was waiting for the right opportunity to sign him.
This will be your hattrick with Aishwarya.
Aishwarya is very special to me. She suits the role to perfection. She was deeply moved by the script. True friend that she is, she told me she would've done it even if I didn't send her the script. But it's important for an actor to be convinced of what he or she is doing.
Will this Hrithik Aishwarya film be your first for an international market in English?
It is important for me to make my films for our market. Having said that, we must take our cinema to the remotest corners of the world. Today, the spoken language is no barrier. The spoken language in our country is as much Hindi as English. I want to capture that feeling of everyday conversations.
What's ahead in 2009?
This year, I managed to write the script that I wanted to and got the cast I wanted. It's been a year of hard and fruitful work. I may be producing a couple of films. 2009 will mean even harder