After having made a fascinating debut with ‘Ishaqzaade’ in 2012, Arjun Kapoor has tasted success year after year at the movies. Having done 13 films in 7 years, Arjun has already experienced doing all kinds of cinema, be it commercial or something off-beat like ‘Ki & Ka’. But Arjun desires to push himself further to do better with every film and now he’s back with ‘India’s Most Wanted’ where he will be playing an IB officer in a crime thriller. In a conversation with CineSpeaks, Arjun gives us more insights into how the shoot went, what he went through to get into the character, his take on success and failures. Read to know more.
Q) Arjun, which are the places you shot the movie and talk us through your memories of the places and while shooting?
Arjun – Well, we shot first in Patna, Bihar and then we shot in Pokhran, Nepal. My director thought I wouldn’t want to go to Bihar and shoot there. Maybe he was told something like that or he got that vibe. But when he asked me, I told him that I would definitely go there and shoot. I have already shot in Bihar during ‘Tevar’ and have been there before. So I definitely wanted to go and shoot it in the live location. See if we do a part of it there and then we do closeups in Mumbai, audience will say ‘Hatao isko yaar.. Nahi dekhna.. Real hi nahi hai.’ We had good police protection there. The Government was nice and supportive and the people were nice too. So it was great overall.. Nepal is a very underrated place. I am so glad I went and shot there.
Q) How much time did you have to research for the film?
Arjun – I didn’t have to research to be honest. My writer-director, he did his research and also kept my research ready. I got an opportunity to meet and interact with many IB officers. Whenever we think of IB officers, the first image that comes in our mind is of James Bond. We don’t project Indian IB officers that way. IB officers look like just you and me but then they have a different level of intelligence altogether. That’s why it is called ‘Intelligence Bureau’. Because their intelligence quotient is so high that they have to and can stop terrorism and criminal activities even before it has taken place.. Their job isn’t like once the act is done, then they question and interrogate. Their mindset is totally different.. A lot of things depend. From good informers to trust, faith, real or fake information and many parameters come into play. So the interactions and spending time with them really helped me to get a grip on my character and role.
Q) Before this movie, we haven’t really seen you doing such realistic movies with realistic stories. So with this movie, shall we officially take it as your entry in this zone?
Arjun – Yaar, maine ‘Aurangzeb’ ki thi. Wo mere liye kaafi realistic thi. I don’t think that film got it’s due share.. It was YRF’s first family drama oriented thriller. I think if it would have come out in today’s time, the producers would have liked it more. But nothing can be done. I also did ‘Ki & Ka’ and that subject was realistic too. Maybe because it was me and Kareena hence people thought it’s commercial. But the subject was so sensitive in it. See, I am a producer’s son and hence that ‘Bollywood filmy keeda’ is in me and it shows and comes out. But I don’t want a particular zone or image for myself.. Sometimes commercial scripts coming in one after the other and sometimes such scripts come one after the other. So it’s about striking the balance. As an actor, I definitely want to do both the types.
Q) What’s your take on terrorism and Yasin Bhatkal?
Arjun – My blood boils when we discuss him. If you see, we haven’t taken his name anywhere in the film but it is utterly disgusting. I don’t believe that we are still giving respect to a man who we know is responsible for the death of more than 400 people. Still we are feeding him biryani and giving him a case? My blood boils when I think about it. As far as terrorism is concerned, I feel it has no religion and it is not country specific either. It scares me when I realize what people are doing just after being radicalized and fed in with pure ‘hate’. If you see what happened in Sri Lanka recently or in New Zealand.. People coming and killing others in churches etc. It’s disgusting and shameful and just sad.
Q) People are saying that you haven’t been working out and you have lost touch with fitness. What is the case?
Arjun – Yaar, unko bolo aake mere abs check kare ya phirr mere saath aake workout kare. Sab pata chal jayega (Laughs)
Q) From the trailer, you character looked pretty much of a ‘ziddhi insaan’. Asliyat mein aap personal life mein kitne ziddhi ho?
Arjun – See, I am not like that in general. Obviously since childhood, my upbringing has been such that I have seen loads of ups and downs already. So yeaah that does impact the thought process. But then, I am ‘ziddhi’ when it comes to being ‘Suno sabki karo khudki’ version of myself. I don’t like blaming others and hence till the time, I am myself convinced about something, I will not do it. I back my own decision making ability. Either it has to be that I see things and I get convinced and I do it accordingly or someone has to convince me from where I take the thing forward. If you force me into something and then I don’t like it, I will end up blaming you saying, ‘Aree maine yeh kiya kyunki tumne kaha’. This thing I cannot do. So I am very stubborn that way. No one can force me into anything. I will just not give in.
Q) It’s been 7 years since you have been in the industry. Tell us a few memories from ‘Ishaqzaade’ and how do you feel about your journey so far?
Arjun – Yaar, that film toh I still feel that I shot just now. It’s so fresh. If during my first film or a day before my first film released, you would have told me that I will be doing 13 films in 7 years and working with the top actors and directors and producers, I would have said, ‘Chance hi nahi hai.’ But looking back, I feel very fortunate and blessed to be working in a place where very few make inroads and work. So far, the journey has been good. Obviously hits and flops are two different things. They are a part of the journey but I am glad to see where I am positioned today.
Q) How blessed do you feel working with top class directors since your career started?
Arjun – Well that’s where the director comes into play. Where he makes you feel you can fo something which you don’t feel you can do. That’s why I am blessed to work with a Raj sir here who thought I could pull off the character of an IB officer well. Normally what do we do? We shave our beards and trim it. But he told me ‘Tu apne daari ko haat hi mat laga. Unke paas utna time kaha hai? ‘ That’s where a director comes when he understands the layers of the character. For example Ashu sir in ‘Panipath’, I never ever felt I can play a Peshwa. He thought I could do it.. If you ask me, most of the time I genuinely feel I can’t do this I can’t do that. That’s where I feel blessed where I have had directors who have done their best to get the best out of me.
Q) What is your biggest takeaway in these 7 years?
Arjun – My biggest takeaway is the audience to be honest. The way they have evolved and now are respecting content over anything, that is my biggest takeaway. Gone are the days when you go to watch something in PVR just to chill in the AC for ‘paisa vasool’ factor. If they at all need to chill, they can do that in Netflix or Amazon at a much cheaper rate yaar. Digital is so cheap and also look at the content. So if we need to compete with them, it’s important that we work on the quality. The audience today is such that if the film is good, if you film comes out on friday, they will go and see it at the cinemas even on Saturday, Sunday,Monday,Tuesday or even Wednesday. But if it’s not nice, they will decide on Friday evening itself not to watch it. So my biggest takeway till now has been the evolved audience.
Q) How do you look at success and failure?
Arjun – We are in an industry where things change friday to friday. As an actor when you are coming up, you need to be prepared about it and handle it. When a film works, it works for everyone and when it doesn’t work, then also it’s a collective responsibility. I see many actors passing the blame of a film not working to others. That’s not right. One friday the audience is loving you and the next friday it’s not. It’s part and parcel of the journey and it’s important. For me, I take both seriously and both are important. There’s no actor ever who has a 100% track record of successful movies. It comes as a package and that’s how it is.
Q) Lastly, your favourite character out of all the characters you have done?
Arjun – Well it’s really difficult to point out one but then if I be honest, if I didn’t play Parma Chauhan, I wouldn’t have been doing the other work that I have been doing. So definitely that tops the list. I am humbled by that always.
BY SUBHOJIT GHOSH.