Thursday, November 19, 2015

Arjun Kapoor

“My life has been an adventure in that sense – I’ve seen quite a few highs and lows”

By Ankita R. Kanabar

(From the Diwali/anniversary issue of Super Cinema)

Three years in the movies, the rising popularity, lots of highs and a few disappointments later, Arjun Kapoor still has his head in the right place. He brought back qualities of raw and broody in a Hindi cinema hero with ‘Ishaqzaade’, but is just as fun-loving and vulnerable off-screen. While this year may not have been as great for him at the movies, with ‘Tevar’ not meeting expectations; he’s a happy man who keeps learning every day. Now just as he’s set to make his small-screen debut with ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’, this young Kapoor is a bundle of excitement as we talk about the show and other aspects of being an actor in this freewheeling chat…

Photo credit : Prasad Naik

Last year was great for you in terms of three very different films which did well. This year though, 'Tevar' fell short of expectations. But do you still look at it as a learning?
I didn’t plan anything, last year or this year. Whatever happened, was supposed to happen organically. The best part is, when you don’t plan things, you don’t mind seeing the results. It’s not like I had an expectation, that 2014 was great so 2015 has to be great too. For me the expectations are about trying to get better with each film which I do feel I am getting better. The box-office is not in my hand. But every year I am growing regardless of how the film does. Obviously a film not doing well affects you a little, emotionally, because you’ve put an effort but you learn from it. So, yes, I just look at it as another year of new learning for me.

Talking about new things, how excited are you about your new role - that of a host on 'Khatron Ke Khiladi'?
It’s definitely something which excited me tremendously. For me, it’s a cool, energetic, young show that allows me to be on a platform where I can connect with so many people. Here within a season I might connect with the number of people that I would after five-seven years with my films. And of course the show’s format - whenever I thought if I would do a show, I knew it would be something like ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’. And incidentally, that was the show offered to me!

Not to mention, the show will also give you a chance to be yourself unlike your films where you’re a character.
Which is great, isn’t it? Because at the end of the day, the audience should know the real you, so that they can differentiate between what you are and what your characters are. But, I don’t think it will be a bigger deal than hosting an award show. I got some great feedback when I hosted IIFA also, and I thought that was just a trailer of things to come from me, so I took it up. I think if I can do it live in front of so people for a couple of hours, then I’m sure that everyday I can come in front of the camera, be myself and enjoy that and hopefully people will enjoy it too.

How adventurous are you for real? And for me, being adventurous isn’t just about doing stunts…but also about how you deal with life in general…
My life has been an adventure in that sense – I’ve seen quite a few highs and lows. Everyone’s life has those roller-coaster moments. But it depends on how you look at it. I agree with you, that it’s not always about doing a stunt or something risky. Sometimes it’s also about traveling to a new country, meeting new people, living and trying new things, just having an open mindset. In that sense, I am an adventurous person to a point where I’m intrigued by the world, and I love the idea of going to new places that I’ve never been to. That for me is a very cool aspect of being an actor. The adventure also lies in just visiting a place which you don’t get to do very often. Being adventurous is not always about going to the extremes, it’s about enjoying the journey sometimes.

Do you think you’ve also been adventurous in terms of your film choices?
I’m an actor who got chosen for his first film, I didn’t choose it. So, since then I’ve never tried to follow the pattern. Even my first film might be a conventional film in terms of Romeo and Juliet but it wasn’t a conventional character, it had a lot of shades. Having said that, I don’t rate films as commercial, non-commercial, conventional or whatever. Anything that makes you wake up in the morning and show up on set, is good enough for you to say yes to. For me, a ‘Finding Fanny’ is as exciting as a ‘Gunday’, because both are on different spectrums and you get to live two different roles. My basic thought is that the world of the film should be exciting. Those are the reasons that should excite you, not the commerce because that you cannot predict.

Talking about your characters, somehow most of your roles so far have possessed that innocence or child-like vulnerability, despite having grey shades. Does that come from a part of your own personality?
I hope so, because every character will have some essence of you, eventhough you might not be exactly like that. No actor can turn around and say that there’s nothing of them in the characters they play. Whether, it’s your eyes, vulnerability or anger, certain facets of you subconsciously come in. The innocence that you’re talking about might be there because it’s inherently in my personality. But I guess the material and the performance add to it. The same innocence might not come to the forefront if the character is not well-written. I think eventually, it comes down more to the film you’re doing. For example, in ‘Ishaqzaade’, that boy was innocent, because he himself wasn’t realising that what he’s doing is so wrong. He was like a child, just trying to get attention. When it comes to a ‘2 States’ also, he’s vulnerable because he’s seen so many things in life. There’s innocence in the material itself. So I think somewhere it stems more from the characters.

And you also love underplaying?
Yes, I don’t tend to overplay my performances. I think the way to connect with your audience should be through your eyes!

When you’re in the public eye, so many people will have different perceptions about you. How do you not let that affect who you really are?
Anything written or spoken is all from a third person perspective. Eventually, you just have to truly know yourself. If you know yourself, then what people say about you, won’t affect you after a point. But I understand what you’re saying. You feel emotional momentarily but it can never hold you back or make you feel down for too long. A third person’s opinion cannot really bog you down or change you as a person, whether it’s positive or negative. You also cannot get the love that you get from people go in your head, because you’re loved for a reason so you should be yourself. It’s difficult sometimes, but you need a good foundation for it. You need people around to keep you grounded. May be in my case I’m fortunate that I’ve grown up in the industry, so I’ve seen a lot of ups and downs, and seen people change with time, so that kind of helps you to not get caught up in the web because it all changes Friday to Friday.

Is that why most actors today come across as probably more real or accessible? Also, do you think that whole idea of stardom has changed with time?
In the past eras, just once in a while you got to see stars or got a glimpse of them. Today, barring going to the bathroom, people know everything that’s happening in an actor’s life We’re accessible, available and that’s what even the audience appreciates. We’re their friends. In today’s day and age, we’re not quintessentially the stars that descend once in a while, we’re just regular people. That evolution has happened, thanks to the social media, television, media. And that’s because of a cultural change also. Now people don’t like younger people who behave like prima donnas and are arrogant. Now it’s a more simplified state that people want to see the real you. They don’t want to see some starry behaviourial tantrums. Also, while social media is a great way to connect to people, it doesn’t reflect your stardom. If you start believing that the number of followers on Twitter equates to stardom, or will translate in every film you do, then that’s silly. It doesn’t translate at the box-office. So, that bubble should not exist.

Lastly, tell me something about your next, R. Balki’s ‘Ki And Ka’.

It’s a sweet, romantic comedy that deals with today’s relationships. It’s about a married couple who has their own ups and downs. The film deals with role reversal, where the house is run by a man and the woman goes out to work. With Balki sir’s interpretation, it should be interesting for the audience. I’ve just completed that. When one journey ends, another begins, so now I’ll start with ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’ and I’m nervous. I feel like it’s my debut again because television is a new format. I will have to put in effort to make sure I remain myself all through and entertain people. 

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