Randeep Hooda's Mahavir Bhati in Highway is everything you don't expect from a mainstream actor in a mainstream film – he roams around in tattered lungis, hits the girl, spouts heavy duty-expletives and hardly ever shows his emotions.
Not many actors would have dared to show the negativity of Bhati, warts and all. Did that worry Randeep? His answer is just what you expect from the actor who has made 'different' roles his métier. "I never think about what others are doing. I do a film for myself, not others," he says.
Whether people rave about his performance in the movie or they criticise his chemistry with Alia Bhatt in the film, he simply knows the caliber of his performance and doesn't care for the rest.
"Imtiaz is such a sensitive and wonderful director to work with - he knew the difference of approach for me and Alia," says Randeep.
He is aware of his huge fan following, especially female, he has a clear agenda of not caring about marketing, and despite his stardom, his reverence for theatre is intact.
In a candid interview with Hindustantimes.com, Randeep Hooda talks about the journey of Highway - from the preparations to the release, his favourite director and more.
Randeep the socialist
So why did he take up Highway in the first place?
Randeep says he is a socialist at heart. "I have this soft spot for have-nots. So, I was really inclined to portray their pain and pathos in Highway."
Randeep claims that he always had a connection with the village. His father was brought up in a village, though he wasn't. "I used to run away from school to my village. But later I went to the US for studies and lost touch. I was glad I could revisit it with Imtiaz's Highway," Randeep says.
Meeting colourful Gujjars
Preparing for his role in Highway, Randeep visited rural places near Faridabad with Imtiaz and met some 'colourful Gujjars' as he calls them.
"We spent time with them, had drinks, recorded them and tried to learn their dialect," says the actor.
A bump on the Highway
Randeep says, "I am a Jat and the Jat and Gujjar dialects are very similar so that was the tough part - finding the small differences and adapting them."
Randeep 'don' Hooda
He has mostly played grey characters in his movies. How did Randeep get into the zone of portraying dons on the silver screen?
"Portraying a don or the bad guy was never new for me. When in school (DPS RK Puram, Delhi), I was given the title of Randeep 'Don' Hooda at my farewell. So I guess I was always in that zone!"
It's all about perception
There are a few people who did not like the chemistry between Ali and Randeep in Highway. How does he take that?
"Those are the kind of people we don't want to watch our film. There are people who have watched Highway five times! I haven't watched it five times," says the actor.
Regret doing a film - can't name it!
Has he worked in a film that he later regretted? Randeep says that there is such a film but refuses to name it. The fault lies with me, not them, so naming them wouldn't be right, he adds.
I would really love to work with Clint Eastwood.
Romance, for Randeep, is not about looking at each other but looking in the same direction. Imagine such a sufi concept coming from an actor who has mostly portrayed physically passionate lovers onscreen! Imtiaz effect, do you say?