The charming Ranbir Kapoor, 30, has cinema coursing through his blood. He talks to TOI about his mother’s insecurities, his desperate need to be loved and the benchmark for stardom set by his grandfather Raj Kapoor, which he hopes to overtake one day.
Did you know as a child that you would get into films?
People feel that I became an actor because I am from a film family and that my parents were actors. But actually, the only reason I wanted to become an actor was to get away from studies. It’s only after 12th grade, when I went to a film school in America, did I realise that while I was doing nothing, there were people around me, who were so driven at such a young age and I so needed to become responsible.
How were you in school?
I went to Bombay Scottish till 10th and then to HR college till 12th but I was mediocre in school — be it studies, sports or any other extra-curricular activities. I was never a bright student, potentially never good at dramatics, I was sometimes given one-line roles that I was happy to do so that I could bunk classes. My mother used to cry three times a year and that is when my report card used to come. I always passed but was always in the bottom five and got marks in 50s. After every semester, she would threaten to tell my father. I was very scared of him as he had a short temper and his voice was loud. I was very good with Maths and English Literature, specially Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, which was my favourite. Also, I have a phenomenal memory.
Were there things about you, your mother did not like?
Many… that I don’t brush my teeth at night and that I don’t eat vegetables. Also, she does not like me being so detached. When I am at home, I always kiss her and my dad goodnight but she would like me to express more, at least to my loved ones.
Is your mother strict with you?
Not at all. The good thing about my parents is that they never forced moral values on us. If I did something wrong, we would get pulled up and I used to get locked up in a dark room or in the bathroom with the lights off but my mother treated me like a friend. My dad’s relationship with us was based on his father’s relationship with him… a little orthodox. Today, after I have become a working professional, I have opened up a little with him, but when we were young, he was busy and we hardly spoke to him. I can still not talk to him about girls.
Even with my mother, I realised that there was a time when I was telling her too much about girls and my mother used to get insecure and excited but now I have decided that till I get really serious about a girl, I am not taking her to my mother. Previously, I would take my girlfriends to her and say ‘Pao chuo’. I have stolen gifts from my mother — perfumes, jewellery — to give to my girlfriends without knowing the value of the same.
But my mother was very open with me and wanted me to do everything in front of her, be it smoking or drinking. She was stricter with my sister. My deadline was 12.30 at night. I live on the first floor, so I was would kiss her goodnight, go up and then sneak out of the house. She could never catch me because I planned well. I knew what time she would call the security to check, what time my dad and she would sleep.
Has your mother been very anxious about you all these years?
My mother was very scared because I am very shy and an introvert. She felt that I lacked confidence and stammered at times. I get stuck with words that start with ‘st’ or if some one calls and asks my name. But the action word and the sound of the camera transforms me and instills confidence in me. After my first film, she felt comfortable that my image as an introvert, was in fact working for me.
Do you have any memories of your grandfather?
I remember I was six years old when my grandfather passed away. As kids, we were unaware and were all playing house-house in my room. I was the first grandchild and he loved me a lot. I remember him through his films and stories told to me by my parents. When I was four years old, he went to Russia and I asked him to bring me suits. He brought me three suitcases of suits.
People talk about stardom. My dadi told me a story. It was after Awaara or Shri 420 and he had gone to Russia for a premiere. After the premiere, he waved at everyone and sat in his car. The Russians lifted his car and carried his car to his hotel instead of allowing his chauffeur to drive. That’s stardom for me. I have seen nothing. That’s where I want to reach. I want to act, produce, direct. I don’t want to be called Raj Kapoor’s grandson. At some point, I want people to say Raj Kapoor is Ranbir Kapoor’s grandfather.
Are you dating Katrina?
No. She is a close friend of mine and I am extremely fond of her. We hang out together but I am not dating her. I am also friends with Bipasha, Priyanka and Deepika.
What’s the one special thing that makes your ex-girlfriends remain friends with you?
I don’t portray myself as a really good guy. I am an ass and have done wrong things. I am not perfect and will make mistakes again in a relationship but I learn from them. I have had just two other affairs (apart from Deepika) and remain friends with all my exes. I don’t want to name them as they have moved on and so have I.
Who are your true friends within the industry?
I have only two friends in the industry — Imtiaz Ali and Ayan Mukerji. Imtiaz is a great guy who is extremely sensitive to his actors and technicians and gives so much to them that you can’t not love him. I truly believe that he knows cinema and storytelling and is not confined to commercial numbers and item songs. I can talk to him about anything. Ayan is so young and is a fine writer.
No other star at your age has done the varied roles you have done. Is that by design?
I decide intuitively what I want to do. When directors like Imtiaz Ali, Ayan Mukerji, Anurag Basu and Anurag Kashyap, who have stories to tell, come to me, why would I not be a part of it? I can’t follow other superstars’ path because they already have a personality. I have to still develop my personality and I can do that only by doing different kinds of films. But I believe you have to be likeable — people must see your heart. The reason people like Salman Khan is that they know he is a good human being. The audience knows how grounded Amitabh Bachchan is. When he interacts with people, humility oozes out of him, you cannot cultivate this — you either have it or you don’t.
We have heard that you have decided to quit smoking.
Yes. If you catch me smoking, kill me, burn me, call me fake. I took a bet with my mother that if Barfi! became a hit, I would quit. I play football and because of smoking, my stamina has gone down. My friends tell me that smoking also lowers your mojo.