Monday, November 26, 2012

Arjun Rampal

“The audience is the true barometer to measure a film’s success”

By Ankita R Kanabar

(This interview was published in the October 27 issue of Super Cinema)

While earlier he was tagged as ‘hot’ and ‘sexy’, Arjun Rampal has proved that he’s a lot more than just that. With a variety of roles, and some great films in his body of work, Arjun has now, certainly, broken the stereotype that ‘models can’t act’. And his recent films completely prove his credentials as a bankable actor. Be it his portrayal of ‘Joe’ in ‘Rock On!!’ that won him a National award, or a grey and powerful character of sort in ‘Raajneeti’, or the baddie of ‘Ra.One’, Rampal has played each role with panache. And undoubtedly, he’s now getting his due as an actor. His latest film, ‘Chakravyuh’ sees him in a different light, yet again. This Prakash Jha film is getting a lot of critical acclaim and Arjun himself confesses that it’s a film which is very close to his heart. Even the audience seems to be getting smitten by his portrayal of the tough cop Adil Khan. While we caught up with Arjun, he was extremely excited yet nervous before the film’s release. His voice seemed like he is tired with all the running around for the film’s promotion, but that only made his super husky voice, even more sexy. And despite being tired, he does break into a contagious laughter as he talks about the fun they had on the sets of ‘Chakravyuh’. And just as he laughs, his dimples add to his charm. So, here’s the super charming Arjun Rampal, talking about his latest offering, working with director Prakash Jha, upcoming projects and more

How do you see ‘Chakravyuh’ as a film?
When we initially started working on it, we always wanted to make an intriguing and entertaining film, with a strong message, and I think we have achieved that with ‘Chakravyuh’. The way I see it, it’s a film that cannot be ignored. It’s a film that is very relevant and important to every Indian since it’s based on the issue of naxalites. It’s important for people to be aware of the kind of situations, people from these villages go through, and there’s so much of inequality. While it does have a strong message, it’s equally very entertaining I feel. It’s also about people with different point of views, like the name of my character is Adil Khan and that of Abhay Deol’s character is Kabir. And then how they form these different opinions which leads to this whole chakravyuh. So, that’s what the film is all about.

Your character might have demanded quite a few preparations…
You know, for a Prakash Jha film, you can’t go to the set without preparing. You have to prepare. I had to do a lot of research about the way these police officers behave, and know what’s exactly happening in these villages. In the film, people from the villages, fear cops, so how my character tries to break the ice with them, and all required some preparation. Also, my character has a lot of layers. Like when his best friend goes against him, there is a lot of frustration. So, to portray this frustration, and a character with so many other layers has been challenging.

You also usually go through a lot of changes in your overall look…for a character 
You’ve got to always surprise the audience. My look gets designed according to the character that I’m playing. And as an actor, it’s my job and duty to get into the skin of my character. Like for ‘Chakravyuh’, I’ve had to observe police officers and their look. So, that’s how it works. 

How has it been working with Prakash Jha again after ‘Raajneeti’?
I get along very well with Prakash Jha. He is one director who’s always seen me in a different light, and had the confidence in me that I’ll be able to do a particular role. He’s given me roles that have been very unique from each other. Moreover, I’ve always wanted to play characters that will define themselves, and he has given me those kind of characters.

For a serious film like this, how serious is everyone on the sets?
Yes, like I said, it is a serious and intense film yet it will entertain you a lot. But when you do films like these, you can’t be serious on the sets all the time. I think it’s important that there’s this easy camaraderie on the sets. So, we used to always have fun on the sets, and just crack up, create jokes and start laughing. Sometimes there would be this long debate about something, and then lots of fun! Moreover, I think everything was very well planned. Prakash Jha is that kind of a director who plans it all well in advance and he knows that a film like this can get very taxing for the actors, so the atmosphere on the sets is always easy. 

How was it working with actors like Manoj Bajpayee and Abhay Deol?
I love all the actors I’ve worked with. And in fact, for this film it was even more necessary to have a great camaraderie with them off-screen, since in the film we’re beating up each other (laughs). So, it was great working with them. This is my second full-fledged film with Manoj, and all of us know that he’s such a great actor. Abhay on the other hand, I’ve known him for many years, and this film has been like a reunion. Even in the film, me and Abhay are best friends who meet after many years. So, we have this great chemistry on-screen. And I’m so glad to see the kind of work and films that Abhay is doing. He’s also done a wonderful job in this film.

Tell us about your upcoming projects… 
Well, at the moment I’m working for Nikhil Advani’s ‘D-Day’ which is a hard-core action film, so I’m very excited for it. Then, I have Sudhir Mishra’s ‘Inkar’ which shall release around January, next year. Later I’ll start working for Prakash Jha’s ‘Satyagraha’. So, yes I’m looking forward to all my upcoming films, as they’re all very different from each other. I like it if it’s like a mixed bag only.

You think that ‘Chakravyuh’ shall prove to be one of those films that isn’t the quintessential masala film, yet, shall work well at the box office?
See, I think that this is the best phase that we’re going through at the moment, since there’s an audience for everything. There’s an audience for the quintessential commercial formulae films, and also, people like to see slightly unique, niche films. ‘Chakravyuh’ is a kind of film that captures, engages, entertains and makes you think. And very rarely do we see a film that is entertaining and has a strong message. Plus, it has a very simple narrative. So, God willing, ‘Chakravyuh’ should do well. At least, as an actor, I’ve tried to ensure to make it as appealing as possible. The rest should be left upon the audience. I believe, the audience is the true barometer to measure the success of a film.
What’s happening on the production front?
I would love to produce a film again. In fact, I even have something in mind. But first I want to finish what I have in hand. My acting commitments are a priority at the moment, so, I’d like to concentrate and finish all these projects first, and then I may produce a film.

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