He lights up the room with his smile, and heads turn everywhere he goes. He'll make you laugh and talk about the most random issues. If you've got a question, he's got an answer. He can hardly stop talking once you've got his undivided attention. That's right; we're talking about none other than the highly talented actor, Harman Baweja! Here's a little chat with the star discussing his views on Charity, Adoption and the Industry.
The first thing you'll notice about Harman Baweja is his boy next door feel. Despite having a star status, he still manages to remain grounded and will always - always make you feel comfortable. So what's his secret?
"It's got more to do with the family I come from. I believe good and bad things can happen but one just needs to stay level headed and don't let anything affect you too much. If your Car AC isn't working and you look outside and see a man on a scooter, you think, ‘okay so we're both breathing the same air but he's on a Scooty and I'm in a car’. So if you always look below you it'll keep you grounded as there is always someone below you, and you could be there."
People always say 'it's a bad world out there' when asked what he thinks, he said “If you want to be a lawyer it's not easy, if you want to be doctor it's a bad world, if you want to be a cricketer they'll say you'll never get selected because of the politics. So it's a bad world everywhere."
But then, why is the industry targeted so often?
"Well because you're a public figure and everything you do is for the public. So you have to be open to criticism, your whole life is open! If I design clothes, it's for the public to decide if they like it or not. They may not like my shirts, they may like my T-Shirts, or they may not like either. But when you're an actor or a model what you're selling to the world is yourself. You are the product and that's why it's an easy target."
Can one stick to their morals and ethics and still get far in this Industry?
"One should! But then again, what are morals? The way people see it, you start smoking, drinking or partying too much, you lose your morals - but I completely disagree with that. I feel if you disrespect your parents, if you disrespect women or people in general or you become a hypocrite, that's when you're losing your morals. This only happens when you're hung over success - and that can happen in any profession. Ethics and morals are a sign of one's upbringing" and what would you want to say to those who believe otherwise? "Haven't we heard of assistant doctors getting assaulted by senior doctors? Hell yeah! Haven't we heard about it happening in hotels with staff, or in hostels? Be it assault, be it compromise. This is a slightly more open field, at the same time I'm not defending it by saying that it doesn't happen here - it does happen, it's seemingly more rampant here than in any other profession. Another factor is that it’s glamour world and you end up having a higher quotient of people who're more attractive than in any other profession. Hence the desire for compromise is more than it would be for a doctor at X hospital which has some 10-15 doctors and thinks all of them are nice but they are not as beautiful as the cover girl of Mega Modelz! Whereas a man in this profession has 10 options and he's got 10 beautiful women as each option. To say it with brutal honesty the industry does have a little bit more of it, but that doesn't mean it does not happen in any other walk of life."
The best thing about Harman is that he is clear about his thoughts. He will give it to you the way it is, without calculating and buttering his words at all. He has a kind heart and a drive to make a difference - but Harman prefers to stay out of the public eye for his charitable work. "As my grandmother says, your left hand should not know, the charity that your right hand has done. So if there is any goodness that I have done, then only I know it" says the actor.
Is there something you want to do and haven't done yet?
"I'm actually very close to the spastic society; I've done a lot with them lately in the past year. I have a cousin sister who's spastic and I know what she feels and goes through, hence I'm slightly more bent towards them." Having said that, he also admits that as an actor he has the opportunity to influence people and make a difference. "I'd be willing to give myself and go to the farthest if I have to. If I believe in a cause and believe its genuine - I'd go to whatever extend it takes!"
What's your take on Adoption? There are too many kids who are already out there and need a family. So why bring a new baby in this world?
"Rather the way God has made us, a man and a woman together conceive and a woman goes through a lot in nine months - every month of her life (laughs) to finally enjoy that one feeling of actually being a mother. More than just going through that pain, it's the very process of producing a child. I think, pretty much every woman looks forward to being a mother one fine day. It's the ultimate joy! So I feel it would be unfair to say one should not give birth and just adopt, but, at the same time if one can do a combination of two, that would be great!”
So while we can only encourage people and educate them to balance out their family and adopt a child, we cannot make it compulsory "With the awareness that's coming around, adoption is increasing but I don't know about making it compulsory because at the end of the day it is a free democratic country and not a communist state."
Would you encourage people to take a little out of their monthly income and help NGOs? Because due to lack of awareness, most people don't even know that statistically fifteen million children die every year. "Really? I didn't know that myself. So I'm assuming out of fifteen, five million would definitely be Indians." At times like these, when someone stops and looks at you it is then, that you just know how genuine they are. We could literally see the regret and concern in his eyes, and at that very moment we felt glad that we chose to interview him. “I think that should be the headline of your article, make people aware! Fifteen million kids die every year of starvation and we waste food. I don't know what one can do about it to be honest. I mean, one can donate to NGOs yes, but one should do constructive donations which in effect means not just your money but as well as your time, and I really feel if you want to do it correctly you need a representative from a group of people. If I and my friends/colleagues and those who live in my vicinity decide to help an NGO which is saving kids then one representative from our end should be involved in making sure the money actually reaches the kids. I think it'll only come handy then - unless you do a direct donation with your own hands. It's not that I don't trust NGOs but it's just to make sure. I mean if you are going to help - why not do it properly?"
Another very important issue is something that recently took place in our city. What do you have to say about it? "I think it's time we become proactive about our civil rights, and that's what we're doing now. I personally believe the sort of revolution that's happened after the attack, it's like the second rising. We had the first rising in 1857 and one now .That was against the British and this is against the system. It's an eye opener, and the eyes are opening every day. You read in the newspaper that some X amount of imports in Gujarat are actually untraceable and just realize that 80% police force is out guarding some political meetings. So the media has taken its responsibility very seriously this time and they're educating people and fighting for them, they're conveying the people's message! I mean we had a couple of Ministers who had to resign from their post purely because of the pressure of the people - which is a sign of true democracy, and thankfully we're heading towards it." He said, expressing his views on the attacks. "I had a couple of friends who were stuck in there. One even lost his life while others managed to escape."
With explanations so spot on and passion dripping out of every word he spoke, we wanted to ask Harman, only some - 50 more questions! But after finding out that he wakes up at 6am and goes to sleep almost at midnight while shooting for Ashutosh Gowarikar's What's Your Rashi? with Priyanka Chopra, for which he says: "I'm keeping busy and entertained because I'm absolutely loving every bit of shooting for the film." Hmm, busy we can understand, but we wonder who's keeping him entertained? *wink* We decided to let him off as soon as possible, because clearly he was too polite to mind. Harman Baweja is not only a brilliant actor or a good soul or even the better side of Bollywood - he's simply an all rounder.