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I did a part of my schooling at St John's in Chandigarh. After that, my family moved to Panipat, and I finished my schooling in St Teresa's, Karnal. I used to commute every day by bus from Panipat to Karnal. The distance was about 30 miles and would take about an hour. Now, the distance seems very small as I drive 20 miles in Los Angeles every day. Then, the journey seemed forever.

I graduated from Hindu College, Delhi, with English literature. My parents wanted me to become a doctor but I wanted to be an actor.

I came to Mumbai in 1980. I was 20. No one took me seriously. The struggle to be an actor is much tougher than to be a producer because it is easier to get a technical job than to get an acting job. I gave up everything that is difficult!

I did not have a place to stay in Mumbai. I stayed at Mumbai Central station for 14 days. I would stop at every station and look for the cheapest place to stay in. I came across Deepak Guesthouse in Goregaon (northwest Mumbai). It was a nice, clean and cheap place. Besides, the name pretty much decided that I would stay there! I shared the room with six men. It was more like a dormitory. It cost me Rs 7 a night.

I got robbed once at the guesthouse. One of the guys living there knew I had a cassette player. He took it when I wasn't around.

My uncle (journalist) Kuldip Nayar had written a letter to (filmmaker) O P Ralhan to include me in his production team. I worked with him in Pyaas (starring Zeenat Aman). Saroj Khan was the choreographer of the film. Later, she worked with me in Bride And Prejudice.

In Pyaas, my job was to whistle every time they wanted to stop the dance. Once I blew the whistle at the wrong time, and everyone stopped dancing. Saroj looked at me with daggers in her eyes!

I did not get paid for the seven or eight months that I worked there. I lived off the Rs 500 my parents sent as a monthly stipend.

Nayar outside Prithvi Theatre, his old workplace.

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