Q. Share your experience of working with Oscar-winning director Ang Lee?
A. I think it was the most challenging work that I have ever done in my life because he is the narrator of the whole experience and the subject matter is very complex, although on the surface it is just the journey of a boy with a tiger on the boat. But there are so many layers to this story and you have to be on top of that and you are convincing people that it is a real experience.
When you are working with Ang Lee, you don't want to be left behind because it his creation and he is creating this story and you are part of itYou want to be at par with him and you want to feel like you have contributed to that story. So that way you push yourself.
Q. Why was this role so difficult to do?
A. This part needed a method which I didn't realize when I was doing it, it needed a step-by-step approach. For my accent I needed a coach, which I didn't realize, I was working on my own, which I shouldn't have.
A film for me is a living thing, it behaves in a certain way, it interacts with you, the film has its own destiny. When you are given a role, you research,h you do your homework, sometimes you don't but while on the sets it starts emerging, it starts taking shape in your being but this role was far away from me.
The first day, after I came back from the set to the hotel, I literally felt like I was finished, I am a complete zero, I submitted myself and I thought I am nothing. I told myself that I have no pre-conceived notions as an actor, I am not an actor, I am just a zero. I decided to go there with no pre-conceived notions and I will see what happens. I decided I will not carry any kind of association of my homework and I will go there and react to what's happening, no other film has made me do that.
Q. There was a time we used to talk about crossover films but you have managed to achieve this happy balance between Hollywood and Bollywood. How did that happen?
A. I am really fortunate because I am after stories. I pray to God that now, stories should come to me because all my life I have been after stories. I keep finding stories, I keep waiting for them. I have been looking out for stories all my life, now the stories should look for me, they should come towards me. I am really fortunate that these roles come to me. I wish in Hindi cinema also if I keep getting these kind of chances. It's a changing phase for Hindi cinema, changing drastically, every week it's changing and its changing for the better.
Q. When a small-budget film like 'Paan Singh Tomaar' does so well, how does it feel?
A. It makes me very hopeful, they are demanding fresher films, they are demanding original ideas.
Q. How does Irrfan Khan agree to do a film like 'Thank You'?
A. I wanted to do a film like that, that doesn't need any preparation. I can just go and have fun.
Q. What do you think will be the Indian audience's reaction to the 'Life of Pi'?
A. I am really excited about our audience. This is a chance for the audience to experience cinema at its best.