Sammir Dattani - Bollywood's newest wannabe pinup boy

Fourteen years ago, Rajshri Productions introduced Salman Khan in "Maine Pyar Kiya". Now the banner is ready to unveil another potential pinup boy - Sammir Dattani.

Sammir is all of 22... and looks 18. Tell him that and he dimples shyly.

"Actually all my friends say I look too young for my age. I think it's an advantage. That's how I got 'Uff Kya Jaadoo Mohabbat Hai'," Sammir told IANS.

"Nowadays producers cast actors who are suitable to play characters. Gone are the days when 35-year-old actors were cast as college students. The executive producer, Rajjat Barjatya, wanted a 22-year-old to play the collegian. As I grow older I'll get roles accordingly."

Sammir has two of this year's lucky letter 'M' in his name. "My mom believes in numerology...actually the whole industry does. I guess we're a superstitious lot."

The youngster who was picked up by the prestigious Rajshri banner at the age of 16 for a music video called "Valentine's Day" now awaits the release of "Uff Kya Jaadoo Mohabbat Hai", which opens May 21.

"I have butterflies in my stomach. But I won't say I'm nervous. I'm completely confident about my launch. I did several ads and music videos. That experience prepared me for the movies. I knew the groundwork. But let me tell you, there's no comparison between a movie and other visual experiences."

Way back in 1989, the Rajshris had launched Salman Khan. Sammir shares Salman's enthusiasm.

"Right from the start of the project, the Rajshris were sure they wanted two newcomers in the lead. I'm a major movie buff. I've watched stars like Aamir Khan and Salman being launched in 'Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak' and 'Maine Pyar Kiya'. It's like a dream to be launched by the banner that introduced Salman as a hero."

Sammir says he idolises every actor, from Amitabh Bachchan to Hrithik Roshan. "I think to be a good film actor you need to be a major film fan. And I qualify. I often watch two films a day...though lately that hasn't been possible.

"My friends keep teasing me that after my film's release I won't be able to go to the theatres to watch films. That would be a blow. I live on films. But I come from south Mumbai where moviegoers are more chilled out. Even if I am recognised after 'Uff Kya Jaadoo Mohabbat Hai', they'll only stare, nothing more."

Sammir is a first-generation actor. At 16 he knew he wanted to be an actor.

"My family is in the textile business. So I'm not in movies for money, though I must admit earning in my own way gives me great satisfaction. My dad made it very clear that he's there to support me in my acting ambitions but he can't make a film for me.

"Fortunately, Rajjat Barjatya of Rajshri kept track of me after I did their music video with Raima Sen. When he was ready with 'Uff Kya Jaadoo...' he called me."

Sammir feels very close to the project. "All of us were like a family. My co-star Pooja Kanwal and I became buddies. Though she was born in Delhi, she has lived in Mumbai for 10 years. I treated her like any of my college friends. With every schedule we got better."

Sammir doesn't seem to be worried about the other films this summer. "Good films will always run. I've been a college student and I know how excited my friends get about a college romance. The kind of reach that the romantic genre has is untouchable. I've personally seen every love story that has come."

Ask him to rate his own performance and he smiles shyly. "I saw the film a few days ago. We were all given a bound script with songs and dialogues. And believe me, what we've got on screen is even more effective than what was on paper."

At the moment Sammir only has "Uff Kya Jaadoo Mohabbat Hai" to look forward to.

"Some producers are calling me, and I'm going to meet a lot of the directors whom I've always admired. I don't much like what I'm being offered. I know everything depends on May 21. It's the most decisive day of my life. One thing I know. I'm here to stay."

"I guess I'll see Mani Ratnam's 'Yuva' first because I'm a big fan of his work and because I've already seen my own film. After I see 'Yuva' in the noon show, I'll see my film for the next three shows."