Bollywood heart-throb Hrithik Roshan, off cinema screens for the past two years, has high hopes for his new film "Kites" which also carries weighty industry expectations after a poor start to 2010.
Roshan, 36, has not been seen in a starring role since 2008, when he appeared alongside the former Miss World and model Aishwarya Rai in "Jodhaa Akbar", a love story about the Mughal emperor Akbar and his Hindu wife, Jodhaa.
"Kites", to be released in India and 35 other countries on Friday, is a romantic drama about a fugitive left for dead in the Mexican desert, who meets the love of his life - and goes on the run across the United States.
"I have given more than two years of my life to this film and I am hoping that people accept me in this film," said Roshan, whose chiselled good looks make him one of Bollywood's most recognisable and talked-about stars.
"Kites" has become the most anticipated Hindi-language film this year, given the lack of other movies to make an impact at the box office other than the recent comedy "Housefull".
The lacklustre start to 2010 follows a disappointing 2009, which saw total Indian cinema revenues fall 14 percent after a producers' boycott of multiplex venues, swine flu fears and a string of big-budget flops.
Roshan promised "Kites" would be different in terms of size and content.
"The scale of this film is huge and Indian audiences have never seen anything like it here," he said.
Distributors Reliance Big Pictures said on Monday that the film, which has been aggressively marketed, would be shown on 500 screens outside India - making it the biggest ever worldwide release of an Indian film.
The film's international appeal is being touted as a big draw, not least its co-star Barbara Mori, a Mexican actress whose presence has raised hopes that Bollywood can make inroads into the untapped Spanish-speaking market.
Two versions of the film have been made - a 130-minute Hindi edit and a shorter, 90-minute one in English, with the trademark Bollywood song and dance routines cut and apparently replaced with steamier scenes.
Roshan, whose father, Rakesh, produced the film, made his name in 2000 with the film "Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai" (Say, You Love Me), propelling him to superstar status among Bollywood's hero-worshipping fans.
He was mobbed by women in the street and was once even said to have induced mass fainting episodes across the country.
But after a series of mediocre films, Roshan changed approach in 2004, deciding to concentrate on making one quality film every one to two years - reflecting a trend among bigger name stars such as Aamir Khan.
The strategy appears to have paid off.
"Lakshya" (Aim), released in 2004 and based on a border skirmish between India and Pakistan in Kashmir, the superhero adventure "Krrish", the action movie "Dhoom 2", both in 2006, and "Jodhaa Akbar" all did well.
Roshan said his decision came after realising that fame was largely a fickle construct of celebrity-obsessed sections of the Indian media.
"The people who praised you non-stop turned their back against you when you were not doing well commercially at the box office.... I am not here to compete with anyone but to do good work and good films," he said.
"An actor cannot do more than 30 to 40 films in his lifetime. I could either do it in five years and get exhausted or act all my life.
"I chose to be selective and do fewer films."
Roshan, due to appear in "Guzaarish" (Request) later this year, said he is not worried that fans will forget him during his breaks from cinema.
"I am doing (television) commercials and my fans do see me and keep in touch," he said. "There's also my Twitter account."Reuse content