Duggu (Hrithik) is only 2 years younger to me but he would always behave like a protective older brother. He was extremely shy and reserved with others but with me, he would always land up having his way. We would fight so much that my mom didn’t know if it was normal (being the only child herself), she would actually call her friends asking them if it was common for two siblings to fight the way we did. Being as shy as he was, it was super easy to get back at him by teasing him among friends. But our love for each other was far greater than our fights. We are both born to the same parents but are totally opposite in nature. He is an introvert and me being an extrovert. I would love laughter and fun and making friends. While he would be this quiet boy having very selected few friends. He was too shy to even interact with my girlfriends.
During his growing up years, he disliked milk and was also not much of a foodie. He would literally live on fresh air. He always was and still is a dreamer- the kind that uses his imagination to manifest all that he wants in his own happy space and then in real life too. As disciplined as he is today, there was a time when we used to go to school together and he would take his own sweet time to get ready in the morning, and I would get hyper as I would want to reach on time. During lunch break to he was the last one to finish eating his food and even after the school bell rang at the end of the day, he would be the last one to come out while I would be waiting endlessly for him, in the car. During my teens, I was allowed to go out at night for a couple of hours with friends but, only if my brother accompanied me. So I would tell him way ahead about my plans but he would never reply immediately. He would take his own sweet time and give me his answer almost at the last minute. As a brother, Duggu was very protective of me during those growing up years and one day during my teens, he found out that I was dating one of his close friends and that was that. It changed his equation with that guy forever. Being the protective brother he would keep an eye on me and if I ever did anything which he thought was wrong for me, he would be the first one to tell Mom and Dad. He too got his share of scolding from Mom and Dad though, since he was a very stubborn kid. I remember that as a kid if something attracted him at a shop and if he didn’t get it, he would lie flat on the floor and freeze in that posture. At times he even got his way. But I have to add that he has always been this lovely child whose innocence lies in his transparent eyes. Whatever he feels you can clearly see it there. During our trips abroad, if he liked anything and got it… he would keep it under his pillow and keep holding on to it with ecstatic gratitude for actually having it. He still is this person & his inner child gets happy with the smallest achievements, the little things give him joy.
For Hrithik, dancing has been a passion since childhood, something that came to him easily. He worshipped Michael Jackson and would enjoy watching him and learning from him. However, he would shy away from performing in front of the family or close friends. While somewhere I had realized that he aspired to be an Actor, he revealed it only when post his graduation Dad wanted him to go abroad for further studies and he refused telling Dad that he was ready to face the camera and that he wanted to be an actor. He was stubborn as a kid and till date he is stubborn. Once he convinces himself of what he wants to do, there is no way anyone can shake him up. Probably that’s why he has a strong will power to cross all hurdles. His first setback came early during his preparation days for the debut film. One day his back went into a spasm and was told by doctors that he had a genetic disorder. They told him to forget about becoming an actor because it was a major issue and if he jumped or danced or did action in movies he could be in a wheelchair in 5 years. He was heartbroken at the age of 21, But my brother did not give up… he went to all the doctors possible and when science gave up on him, he gave up on science, instead, he starting reading books and researching day and night, basically self-teaching and self-manifesting what he wanted. He has always been unstoppable and he believes that if you have the persistence and determination to achieve your goals, nothing can stop you from succeeding.
He defeated another major hurdle in life and that was overcoming or rather finding a way to live with his stammer. He says it has been his greatest battle.I remember watching him at the age of 13 as he would sit and read aloud for hours, sometimes alone in the bathroom every single day, morning and night without fail. For 22 years I saw him do this. He would record his voice and play it back, again and again, day after day, year after year to know what words had to be worked upon and he would practice those over and over till he got it right. He had a small board up in his room with those Hindi words on it and would keep repeating them every chance he got. He looked like a person determined to learn how to talk without ever feeling like he was a victim. Sometimes, he would shout his lines out so loud that you could hear him from the street below the building. He was possessed by his will to succeed and He Did!
Duggu has always been very dedicated and I still see the same dedication (if not more) in all he does as it was when he was preparing himself for his launch movie ‘Kaho Na Pyar Hai’. He would not miss a day of gym even if it would be at 1 am post his tiring day. I remember even when he was down with Viral, he would work out because gymming gives him a high. He understands the responsibility as an actor and coming from a producer, director’s family background values the cost and efforts that a Producer puts in for any project. That’s why while shooting for a song in his debut movie despite having 103 fever, he shot for it, with a doctor on standby at the sets. I too have worked with him on three movies- Kites, Krrish and Kaabil. He gets into his role completely so much so that he lives his character day in and day out. An interesting fact about him is that he uses a different Cologne for each of his characters and never uses it again. When he was preparing for his role for Krrish, he had two different perfumes, particular to his characters of Rohit (Son) and Krishna (Father), in the film. My brother today is a very patient and calm person but there was a time when he would get mad if anything ruined his hair. Once his hair is set, no one dare touches it else the person would get jacked under the ire of Hrithik. I’m so happy to see duggu so free of all insecurities today, how much he has evolved.
Duggu and I were never thick friends, but we shared a very strong connection with each other. When I was diagnosed with tuberculous meningitis the doctor had kept me under monitoring and my parents were told that 36 to 48 hours were critical, and if it passed uneventfully then I would be out of danger and survive. Mom told me much later that all through the night he sat in the Mandir praying for my recovery. He even rescheduled his shoot until the doctor gave a heads-up on my safety. Even when I got diagnosed with cancer he took the lead and must have visited at least 5 doctors before giving my parents a go-ahead to let me be treated by a specialist. He had all the questions ready with him when going to the doctor and finally when he met doctor Sachin Almel who answered his queries to his satisfaction, did he let me get treated by him.
Hrithik is such a kind person with a pure soul and I love him the most in the family. One thing that always strikes me is that I have never heard him talk bad about anyone or about anyone’s movies or work. He trusts people and gives them all a benefit of the doubt. He is an introvert and keeps his emotions and his own pain to himself. I have never seen him nor heard him complaining about life. I remember the morning when I was told he had a clot in his brain (Subdural Hematoma) and would have to undergo surgery immediately. I was in my room and he was sitting outside… I was numb for a few seconds not knowing how I would have the courage to face him and see him in pain. We must have gone to about two-three doctors on the same day and one constant line he would ask the doctor, “how much time will it take to recover? I have to be back on the sets of a shoot”
On the day he was undergoing the surgery to remove the Subdural Hematoma, I reached the hospital at 6 am as I was restless being at home. I don’t remember if I have ever cried as I did during his surgery. I knew that I had to be strong for my parents and grandparents but I saw myself the weakest during his surgery. I was uncontrollable till he went to the recovery room and I saw him smile. This incident also made me realize what my parents and my brother would have gone through my illness days when I was fighting cancer. I was there at the hospital all throughout his recovery period, feeling helpless for not being able to be of much help except for putting up a brave smile to face him. At those times, I would often ask God why he was doing this to such a noble soul like Duggu. I still remember to post his surgery days, when the neurosurgeon had given him permission to travel, Hrithik had to take his first flight to London for work and I did not sleep even for 1 minute till he did not reach London and call me that he was ok because the cabin pressure was a risk post a brain surgery. Only after listening to his voice, I actually heaved a sigh of relief. Even earlier, when he was shooting for Krrish, he had met with a near fatal accident while performing his own stunt in Singapore. I was in Mumbai then and when I got to know about his fall, it took a couple of hours for this news to sink into my consciousness, the shock had set in so deep that later when we continued shooting for Krrish in Hyderabad and the shot required him being on the harness, jumping from one building to the other, I would shut my eyes and would keep praying and hoping that all goes well and duggu stays safe.
While he does not show me or tell me what all he has done for me, I get to know it all from Mom, everything that he does behind my back for my well-being. His silent presence is his way of showing his concern for me and nothing has changed our equation over the years. Our bond has only grown stronger and now there is this complete understanding that we share without saying much or displaying our love for each other. There is one thing that we have in common, that is our philosophical talks. We both do read self-help books at times and exchange notes and messages on life. He always extends his help and guides me if he feels that a certain attitude would help me become a better version of myself. Since we both are very close to our Mom he does keep inquiring about me all the time without me even knowing about it. We may not even talk or meet each other every day but I know this that in my times of need or trouble, my brother will always be there. He will be the first one to leave everything he is doing and be by my side and likewise, I would for him. He knows that I am his biggest critic and would give him my opinion with brutal honesty, whenever he has asked me. Also since we are the only a couple of years apart, I would go to him for advice as well.
Duggu has never tried to stop me from doing anything. He is the most chilled out brother as long as he knows I am happy. He is always very supportive in whatever I have wanted to do in my life if it’s for the right reasons and he always encourages me in all my endeavors. As I mentioned, we do not display our love for each other publicly but to me, duggu has been an inspiration and his dedication towards life, especially his work and his bond with his sons is concerned, gives me a reason to keep striving for my best. He has never let his failures or successes get to him ever. To the world he may be one of the most desirable & sexiest men but, for me, he is my beloved brother, a loving son and an amazing father. He is a man with the heart of gold and the people who have closely worked with him, would vouch for it. In spite of all his success, he is incredibly humble and down to earth, sensitive emotional person and I am very proud of him and his achievements. Duggu, you are a gift to my heart, a friend to my spirit and a golden thread to the meaning of my life. I loved you yesterday and I love you still, I always have and forever will.