Interview By: ANKITA R. KANABAR

Having made a place for himself, which not many can accomplish or aspire – Tiger Shroff is one of India’s leading action stars today. He sets the benchmark high with every film – though with his latest ‘Student Of the Year 2’, he’s gotten a breather. We catch up with the actor at Dharma Productions to talk about this franchise and more…

How was it working with Alia in the hook-up song?
I was initially nervous thinking that she is such a good actress, I hope I don’t give retakes and all, but she is hardworking. She prepares for every shot like it’s her first shot so that just allowed me to give my best.

Apparently, she was nervous to match steps with you…
That’s what she says, but all that is just for saying. She was just fine.

Do you like to rehearse?
I love to rehearse, I’m handicap without it.

You play a lot of sports in the film, how did you prepare for that?
Yes, and Kabaddi is one of the sports I play in the ‘Student Of The Year’ competition so I practiced a lot to get the body language right. I had to keep my athletic ability in mind also while preparing for it. I have a certain audience who likes seeing me do my ‘Tigerism’. So, I mixed that, along with the sports. That’s how we went.

You enjoy this massive, loyal fan base who expect from you? How do you look at that and handle the fame which comes along?
I think it’s a responsibility, I got lucky; especially with children. I was on ‘Super Dancer’ and these kids are so fond of me. I don’t know what I must have done to earn that. I’m blessed that I’ve got their appreciation. And because of them, their parents have to like me. So, in my case, it would be like a 1+4 ticket at the box-office (laughs). I got lucky, may be with ‘Baaghi’ or something. It’s a blessing for me that I have some sort of an identity when there’s so much competition, when there are so many heroes being launched. So, how does one stand out? When I decided I wanted to be a hero, I looked at people like Stallone, Arnold, there’s Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee. All these heroes are larger-than-life, celebrated, because they have one thing in common – that’s action. They are all action heroes. Action is a universal language. Everyone wants to look at someone or be like someone. When kids tell me they want to be like me, I feel damn good, because I have felt the same way about these action heroes.

Did you have any apprehension with this film, because in a way, this is different from what you’ve done?
‘Baaghi’ is home-ground for me. With this film, there’s more pressure because I’m an outsider and taking someone’s franchise forward. I’m hoping it will be a blockbuster so that the franchise can stay on for the future generation. It’s Karan sir’s baby also, so in that sense, there’s more pressure here.

Having said that, did this film come as a breather, in terms of the prep and next-level action in your other films?
Oh yes! Really! Especially the film I’m doing next with Hrithik sir and ‘Baaghi 3’ – those two are extremely heavy films for me. So, this is a nice break. I’m getting my butt kicked in this one for a change (laughs). I’m not a superhero or one-man army in this one. I do kick some people in college and sports though. It’s been fun because I’ve never really had a college life. After school, I directly got ‘Heropanti’ and my career started. I got to experience a very different kind of a college.

How do you re-invent yourself every time because now there are expectations to bring in something new each time you’re in a film?
I leave that to my director, my dance directors, action directors. I am just a vessel through which they have to express their ideas and creativity. But even when I’m not shooting, this is like my life. I keep practicing, I’m wanting to learn new things every now and then.

You don’t really have any competition though at this point, do you?
Thankfully, Hrithik Roshan wasn’t launched in these times, otherwise nobody would look at me (laughs).

It would be really exciting for the audience to see you both together, especially dancing.
We do have a dance-off in the film. I’m yet to shoot it, but hope I survive. I’m full-on insecure in front of him. But it’s such an amazing experience to know I’m working with him. Sometimes I go blank because I can’t believe I’m working with him. It’s an amazing experience. I’m so proud of what we’ve shot, what it’s turning out to be. But I’m nervous for myself. I’m proud because I’m working with my hero, I’m proud that I’m working with a big banner, big film, great director. People are expecting it to be all drama, action, dance film but it’s actually so much more. That’s what I’m proud of, that it’s a great story.

This kind of action and fitness – is it exhausting sometimes?
It is. But I want to use my youth right now to its full potential. When my legs start giving up, then I will start changing my approach.

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