The forthright Randeep Hooda is incensed by pictures splashed all over showing him locking lips with Sushmita Sen in the film "Karma Confessions & Holy".
"I'm disgusted by the producers. Surely they've more to bring the public into the theatres than a kiss between two actors? By flashing one scene they're just being cheap and undignified in their promotion. Maybe they need a less cheesy publicity machinery."
The last time when a smooching scene featuring Sushmita Sen was splashed she had blown her top.
"And she should protest against this tacky publicity again. It's not right," says Randeep.
He isn't aware of the film's release plans. "No one has informed me. The kissing scenes are part of the film. And I'm not the least embarrassed about kissing such a gorgeous woman on screen."
But considering how much water has flown under the bridge between Randeep and Sushmita, there's bound to be certain awkwardness about the scenes. "We're both professionals. And we were just doing our job. I'm looking forward to the film. It was a great experience working with her because of our association off-screen. It was very funny maintaining a balance between the rapport on and off screen."
Randeep feels the real-life rapport makes no difference to what happens on screen. "Once the camera rolls the relationship in, the script takes over. I go by the guidelines provided by the script and director."
The actor feels boundaries in cinema have disappeared. "But let me point out 'Karma Confessions & Holy' isn't a Hollywood film. It's an independent film made by Rapture Films. According to me, Hollywood films are those made by the studios in LA... this independent film gave me a chance to feel very independent."
"Having a slice of the Big Apple was a great experience. In essence, Mumbai and New York are very similar. I hired a limousine and travelled all over. I visited every possible watering hole. I loved the freedom and passion in NY," he added.
Randeep says his sister, who is a doctor and stays in NY, is his inspiration to become an actor.
The forthright actor continues to be extra-picky about his roles. "My first film 'Monsoon Wedding' was released in 2000. Now I'm doing my fifth film 'Risk'. I couldn't bear myself on screen in 'Monsoon Wedding'. So I took a long sabbatical to improve myself as an actor. I got involved with theatre.
"I got a strange compliment about my performance, which at that time I thought to be an insult. A distributor in Venice told me, 'In the entire film you were the only one who didn't seem to be acting'. I took it as criticism and decided to improve myself, though in hindsight it seems a compliment."
Is Randeep a sucker for worldly perks? "I go through these phases where I think all success is so transitory. But the next day I'm fighting for material things. I need money to encourage and empower those around me. It's not about owning two cars. I can only sit in one...Though I do drive around in many cars these days. It's very therapeutic."
He's on the verge of signing a bunch of new films.
"I just want to make sure which one to go by. Signing is easy. But would I be able to live with it until its completion? I don't take up a challenge until I'm up to it. Am I a good decision-maker? Sometimes it's better to let the decisions be made for you. I guess I'm childlike and I want the child within me to remain alive. I'm awed by life. I'm excited and challenged by life. I've got certain innocence about me that I value. I watch my two-year old nephew and learn how to live.
"When I was helping Naseeruddin Shah with the staging of Kahlil Gibran's 'The Prophet', I read a line that has stayed with me. 'If you're looking for God, look at the children playing around you.' I love children and they love me back."