Mohit Suri: I told Aditya, I can't change you on the screen if you can't change yourself

Mohit Suri is a director known for portraying passionate romances on the screen. In a conversation with BT, he talks about his Aashiqui 2 (2013) hero Aditya Roy Kapur get a makeover for the next Malang , why he needs to take a break from the thrillers and why his wife, former actress Udita Goswami, will not return to the big screen. Excerpts ...

Out of the 12 movies that you have directed, at least six are romantic thrillers. Aren’t you excited that Malang brings you back to the genre? Were you itching to do a film like this?

Every time I get bored with work and it becomes repetitive, I break the pattern. Just when I thought that I was getting into the pattern of thrillers with films like Awarapan (2007), Crook: It’s Good To Be Bad (2010) and Murder 2 (2011), Aashiqui 2 broke the monotony. At the time, there was this huge buzz about how we were launching or relaunching two actors (Aditya Roy Kapur and Shraddha Kapoor) through the film. Casting was never a focus when I began working on Aashiqui 2. I wanted to break the pattern and so, I directed a romantic film. In fact, Emraan Hashmi, who I was thinking of casting in Aashiqui 2, didn’t want to die at the end of the film and so, we went ahead and cast Aditya. I also directed two romantic dramas - Hamari Adhuri Kahani (2015) and Half Girlfriend (2017) - back to back. Now, to break away from that, I am here with Malang.

This film brings you back with your Aashiqui 2 hero, Aditya. At the trailer launch of the film, you asked him to ‘start working and take responsibility in life’. Could you emphasize on the reason behind saying this? In 2017, after Half Girlfriend released, Aditya came to me and complained that I work with other actors, and not him. He wanted me to give him some kind of transformation. He knew something was going wrong (in his career). I told him, ‘I can’t change you on screen if you can’t change yourself’. I did Malang with him, because he has worked really hard on his physical attributes and he will also be seen doing action in the film. We got trainers and dietitians in place and he followed a strict regime. It's showing results, as people are talking about his beefed-up avatar (seen in the trailer). I share this kind of a bond with Adi, where he can walk up to me and open up. Disha (Patani), on the other hand, is extremely guarded. She has recently started talking to me (on a personal level), but doesn’t reveal too much about herself. Maybe she hasn’t yet met someone or worked with someone who she can open up with. I like to have a personal bond with my actors.

The film also stars Anil Kapoor in an interesting role. How did others match their energy levels?

I was getting close to many actors for the role, but I wasn't convinced. It was Luv Ranjan's (co-producer) idea to choose Anil Kapoor for the role. In recent years, he has played positive roles on the screen, and then, here we approach him to play a bad boy in a thriller. He is extremely enthusiastic. He had only one action scene, but he trained even for that. It was great to have an experienced actor like him on the set, who behaves like a newcomer.

After this, you will join Aditya again for the sequel to Ek Villain (2014). It seems that you two have found a comfort zone ...

I have seen Aditya’s makeover in Malang, and I thought that he would be the right guy for the sequel to Ek Villain. I don’t believe in roping in my favorites for my films. In fact, John (Abraham, who stars in the sequel) was initally concerned about who he would be having a face-off with, because of his huge frame. He was happy to see an action scene from Malang where Aditya is fighting with some 30 people. John messaged to tell me that I had got the best actor for the film.

You have taken Aditya under your wings. What about Shraddha Kapoor, who you reintroduced in Bollywood with Aashiqui 2 and even cast in Half Girlfriend?

I would definitely like to work with her again. We did not team up for Malang because I needed an actress who had an element of enigma associated with her. I couldn’t team up with her in the sequel to Ek Villain because she dies in the first part.

Today, we see many actresses working on movies even after marriage and motherhood. Your wife Udita was an actress before getting married. Does she want to make a comeback?

They offered him a web program recently. In fact, they were also paying him a lot of money (laughs!). He was encouraging her to accept him, but she refused. She says she doesn't like acting. However, I am happy that she resumes her work as a DJ. She started a career in music after we got married. In the middle, he also did some concerts, but stopped doing it after getting to work with the children. Now, she has taken a concert and will perform soon.