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Simple and straight... really

I don't take oil, fat, chocolates and rice. Avoid smoking and alcohol. Exercise daily for an hour to stay fit and try to catch an eight-hour sleep.



Food for health and pleasure... Aman Verma at Café 24 in hotel City Park in New Delhi.

THIS TELEVISION'S tiara tasted triumph through thorough toil, and once hedid, he made it his staple diet. Aman Verma has gallantly come through constant heckling of a modest actor on Doordarshan trying to copy Dilip Kumar to ascend to super stardom with some power packed performances, particularly in "Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhie Bahu Thi", "Kehta Hai Dil" and "Khul Ja Sim Sim",

In the Capital recently to inaugurate Café 24, Hotel City Park's round-the-clock coffee shop, which offers cuisine by celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor, Aman enjoyed the calm ambience with delectable dishes and mocktails. "Indeed success has come late and now I am loving every moment of it. Let's hope it stays," wishes Aman. But success hasn't come without baggage. "I don't take oil, fat, chocolates and rice. Avoid smoking and alcohol. Exercise daily for an hour to stay fit and try to catch an eight-hour sleep. However, this profession is such that you can't be fastidious all the time. But I try to stick to my diet plan schedule as far as possible," maintains the actor, tasting the chocolate cake proving his flexibility. "I just eat to live. I love Indian homemade simple food comprising dal roti sabzi and pulao. Sometimes, for a change I do try Chinese. That's it," adds Aman, who completed his secondary education at Army Public School, Dhaula Kuan and later did theatre in Delhi before shifting to Mumbai in the 90's. "My father was in the Army. So, during childhood I didn't stay in one city for more than two years at a stretch. It was a good way to know the country's landscape and people. I always wanted to be an actor and living in a disciplined atmosphere never prevented me from dreaming of a career in the dream world."

As for comparisons with the tragedy king, Aman says, "I am tired of all this crap. I admire Dilip Saheb's performances but I have never deliberately tried to copy him, and that's why I consciously changed my style in "Khul Ja Sim Sim". I tried to come across as a more jovial and action packed anchor. And it worked." Aman feels sad that the immensely popular series has come to an end. "Now I am looking forward to `Jadoo', and working hard to take it to the same heights."

Aman has also tried off and on shifting to the big screen without much success. In Tanuja Chandra's "Sangharsh" he had a soft corner for Preity Zinta but was effortlessly cornered by Akshay Kumar, and Ramsay's "Dhund" found the going terribly foggy at the box office. Something similar happened with "Pran Jaaye Par Shan Na Jaaye". However, his negative performance in Ravi Chopra's tearjerker "Baghban" has been appreciated. Does he relate with the character? "Not really, I don't identify with the character in the film. I am a caring son, who gives prime importance to the wishes of his parents. Soon, I will be seen in a negative role in "Devi". As for a career in Bollywood I will keep on doing different roles. Right now I am working in a comedy, where I am playing a U.S-returned guy in love with a bhains wali."

Aman denies that he is going for wedlock with some `K-wali'. "It is just a professional relationship."

Turn the talk to ethics with queries about game shows promoting gambling and the actor popularising a pan masala brand, Aman turns combative. "Given a chance any one will jump to do them. It is just those, who don't get offers crib. And politicians, who raise such issues should first look at the number of scams they are involved in." But he has just campaigned in the Assembly elections? "Just for one candidate and I know he is an honest man. I am a straightforward person."

Certainly he is. Ask him what he is looking forward to in the New Year; Aman comes up with a split second answer. "In 2003, I bought my second home in Bandra and this year I am looking forward to more money, more fame and more work."

ANUJ KUMAR

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