What were your career options at 22?
I wanted to fly planes for the Air Force but they offered me a desk job as there was a problem with my hearing. I replied with, “That’s what I am running away from!” I was a Dev Anand fan but I’d never performed in plays in school or college. But, I filled out the FTII application form and was selected. By 22, I had just graduated and started modelling.
What was your bank balance then?
Modelling assignments then would fetch ₹2,000 or ₹3,000, which went a long way. Deepak Parashar, Andy Balraj and I would model for Vimal. I had an account with Punjab National Bank.
What was your focus in life?
Once I was in the FTII, it was only films for me. There was no going back.
What was your frame of mind?
As a youngster, I experienced a whole spectrum of emotions: from despair to hope. But, I could get out of the low phases. I got into smoking too, but snapped out of it.
Who constituted your family then?
My mother Ravinder Kaur was a housewife—my grandfather took out a procession when she passed class 6! My dad, Sardar Joginder Singh, wanted me to become an IAS officer but I couldn’t study so much. He was a liberal who believed in institutions, so he didn’t object to me joining the FTII. My dad was a friend to me. Similarly, I try to be a friend to my sons.
What was your romantic status at 22?
I was okay looking and fond of Urdu poetry. I have benefitted from being able to recite shayari by Ghalib, Firaq and Faiz.
What was your sense of style back then?
I was never into clothes. My first pair of jeans was given to me by Mr Salim Khan, Salman’s father. I was thrilled.
What was your most prized position?
My sports kit with my bat and racquet. And my motorbike. I was living in Shivaji Park as a paying guest, while my friends were in Juhu. I had to travel by bus and train so, at my request, my brother Indrajeet sweetly sent over his motorbike.
From HT Brunch, August 27, 2022
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