Skinny legs turning jelly before a speech in the school auditorium, sitting next to a crush and not able to utter a word and beating the fastest boy in school at race... Harman Baweja shares all... almost!
WHEN his first film released, he was often seen at events with a pink teddy bear. This time he flashes the 'V' sign. "Photographers ask me to," he defends himself with a laugh. After his first film Love Story 2050 failed to impress, he is geared to hit a six with his upcoming film Victory. Here's Harman Baweja, in a back to the past mode... with his personal victories.
Being an athlete
Two memories: Our PT sir Cyril D'Souza and beating Rahul Motashah, the fastest runner in the school, in a race. It was in eighth standard. I shocked everyone. Then they made us run again and I could not beat him. (Pulls a face) But Cyril Sir saw potential in me and he started training me. I represented the state in 100 metres and long jump. I only won in inter-house competitions. Outside the school, I never won a gold.
Beg to differ
In school, for some strange reason, I always used to dress up as a beggar in fancy dress competitions — sometimes lame, sometimes a leper. I never won the first prize, only second or third. My classmates started teasing me. I never thought it would catch on in a negative way, but what the hell... (Laughs)
Crushes and gushes
(Instantly) That's definitely Pavitra Poojari… oh, she was this Bhagyashree-Maine Pyar Kiya heroine material, very fair and beautiful. And mind you, we were still in class five or six. Once, during the reshuffle, my class teacher Priti Chhaya made me sit next to her. That was the day! Unfortunately, I never had the courage to speak to her.
In Jamnabai Narsee School, all the contestants were required to give a speech in front of 1,500 students, 15 trustees and all the teachers. I was contesting for assistant head boy. Our skinny legs used to turn jelly in front of the audience. When my turn came, I went on stage and lit a matchstick. Pehli bar toh jala hi nahi kyunki mera haath kaap raha tha. Thankfully, it lit the second time. And I said — 'This is the glow of Jamnabai. If you want this glow to go on, choose me, or else…' I blew out the flame. But the flame had already extinguished (laughs). The following year, I was campaigning for head boy. I saw six of the 14-odd nominations had something in their hand. They were following my trend of making an impact. One boy came with a trumpet. He blew it onstage and said — 'I can blow my own trumpet but I won't because you know of my achievements'. Right after that, he started listing his achievements. (Laughs) By the way, I became the head boy that year. Two years later, my sister became the head girl. Siblings becoming head boy/girl was a first in Jamnabai.
Becoming Mr Mithibai
In college, Siddharth Kannan hosted the Mr Mithibai show. He was very nasty to contestants. I had participated. He asked me a trick question: Kannan: If you kissed your girlfriend and she became a frog, what would you do? Me: I would kiss the frog back. Kannan: Why? Me: For two reasons… one, in the hope that she may turn back into my girlfriend; and two, I would still love her, whether she was a frog or a donkey. I won the title! (Laughs out loud)
I went abroad for hotel management studies when I was 16 — Switzerland and then America. At that impressionable age, I had people sitting in my room and smoking up. But I never once touched it. The reason was a man I met years ago on a train journey to my native Chandigarh. I don't remember if he was telling me or someone else, but he had said that smoking starts with just one puff and then there is no stopping. Some things stay etched in your mind forever. This was one of them. The last thing my parents would have liked to hear is 'your son is a druggie'. That, on a personal front, is a big victory — not succumbing to peer pressure.
Recently, we had a reunion of the whole family from my mom's side. We had some 46-47 people in the house. I don't have a house that can squeeze in that many. There were gaddas everywhere. I would get up in the morning, hop across people and go to the bathroom. Half of them would still be sleeping with their chaddars, some were eating on the bed while a crying child was being fed. It was cool. I used to call it a refugee camp. People were sleeping in whatever space was available, even in front of the toilets. It's cool to have a family like that. Touchwood.
Films and controversies
Love Story 2050.It was made out to be a national calamity. What's the big deal? Unfortunately, people enjoy others' failures.
Priyanka and your break up.
In the span of five years, we have broken up six times, got engaged twice and she has proposed marriage to me once. Once we had even broken up and then got engaged. How is that possible? I prefer not speaking about it.
What's the point? Why should anyone put his or her relationship out in the open?
So, you are still seeing each other?(Forcefully) No, I am not saying that. I have never said that.
Priyanka hosted your birthday party with the whole family.
Ya ya ya.. that was in Priyanka's house.
Why don't you talk about your relationship?
Kya hoga? And that doesn't mean I am saying there is a relationship. (Laughs)
Okay, Amrita Rao and you…
So it's just to create a buzz around Victory?
I hope so.
One report said that you wanted this story floated around and Amrita got upset.
Arre, Amrita is not upset. Just today we were together giving radio interviews. I have been extremely guarded about every relationship, including Priyanka. I have always dissuaded people from writing about Priyanka and I. Then why on earth would I float around something as frivolous as Amrita and I?
Such rumours will never benefit a film. If it did, Tashan and 2050 would have been blockbusters. And Jab We Met should not have worked at all because the lead actors had split by the time the film released.