“Rockstar happened because of me, I’ll take credit for it” – Ranbir Kapoor: Part 1
At Mehboob Studios in Bandra, Ranbir Kapoor has just arrived from hectic promotions of his most ambitious film Rockstar. Dressed in Indian traditional – colours that cannot exactly be described - a pink and purple coloured dhoti with a brown and cream kurta, he welcomes me with a warm hug and something that goes, “My mother loves you a lot. She can’t stop talking about you”. I’m speechless. Then he lights up his cigarette and sips his nespresso. That’s a new form of espresso coffee that Ranbir’s mother, Neetuji, offered me the first time I met her at her house in Pali Hill. I felt something personal was connecting but not my network. My blackberry is almost crashing after I’ve uploaded my status that says – ‘With Ranbir. Do not Disturb’. He looks right in my eyes and says, “Ask me whatever you want to ask today”. I ask and he talks. His words flow. He’s got one crazy, free-floating, head-spinning way of expressing himself, and though he could say more, explain more, he doesn’t. He’s already moved on to some other rabbit hole and can’t be brought back. But that’s just how his mind works. And come November 11, the minds will be at work again – of the critics, of the audiences and of the box office and suddenly Ranbir will be sitting pretty once again. Then I look at him again and he looked casual in his traditionals yet immaculate, an expensive version of himself. I stare at him to make out how serious he’s being. Beneath that silken cool-cat exterior, I catch a small flash of the foxy, radar-jamming contrarianism that has got him where he is today. Where he is today is pretty much where every young actor in Bollywood dreams of being. And yes, very few people are born with that. So, after spending an hour with Ranbir Kapoor, I discover that he is one cool cucumber – dry, concise, charming in a feline way, with a high tolerance for silence that turns every answer into its own punch line and flushes people into reactions they didn’t even know they had. UK’s Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama‘s London correspondent takes you on a journey of love, despair, ego, angst and destruction, a journey of a rebellious ‘rockstar’.
When was the first time you remember picking up a guitar or even playing one?
I remember when I was young, around five or six years old and we were in London. I, my mom, my dad and my sister were walking on the street to go to a restaurant. It was raining very heavily. While we were walking, I saw a musical store with a medium size guitar, and as a kid I recall forcing my father to buy me a guitar. Well, my poor father had to go to the music store and buy me a guitar because I was refusing to enter the restaurant. I was very destructive as a child and I broke the guitar the next day. That was back then. I actually picked up the guitar two months before shooting for Rockstar. So my fascination for guitar continues.
Millions are singing the rock n roll ecstasy called ‘Sadda Haq‘. Are you tripping on it too?
Well, yes of course. I had the good fortune to be a part of the entire music making process since I play the musician in the film. Imtiaz encouraged me that I go with him to Chennai to Mr. Rahman’s place. So I’ve seen all the songs being conceived in front of me, how the lyrics were written, how Mohit Chauhan has sung these songs, the instruments that have come in use for the making of the music. For me, it’s a big part of my journey as this character. It was important for me to see the creation in front of my eyes. ‘Sadda Haq‘ has a lot of meaning because it comes from the character, it comes from his angst. The character wants to express him by the songs he sings. I never wanted a hit song to attract more eyeballs. Imtiaz too believed in that.
We missed you at the Teesri Manzil screening at the Mumbai Film Festival
Yea, I know. I so wanted to be there. But we came back from Jaipur the same night at 11pm and so couldn’t make it in time. The sad part is that I still haven’t seen Teesri Manzil on the big screen. I am a big fan of Mr. Vijay Anand and the way my granduncle Mr. Shammi Kapoor played his character was just phenomenal.
Have you ever felt blessed and proud of the fact that you were a part of Shammiji’s final journey in movies?
My grandfather, Mr Raj Kapoor died when I was very young. I was around six year old then I think. I don’t remember him much. So, I’ve grown up with Shammi Kapoor being my grandfather. I became even closer to Shammi dadaji when he gave us an opportunity to work with him in Rockstar. Yes, I miss him and felt a great loss for the first time in my life by losing someone. But I wasn’t angry or sad because I knew that he lived his life to the fullest. He is the original rockstar of Indian cinema. No regrets. At this age he was driving his car, he was travelling the world, he was flirting with the assistant directors on the sets, etc. That kind of made me feel proud that I was a part of the man’s final journey who really lived his life and how!
Janardhan, Jordan, Rockstar, Ranbir. You’re leading many lives than just one buddy. So, who exactly are you?
I am just an actor. There is a wrong perception of what you’re seeing on screen is me. What you’re seeing on screen is an amalgamation of lot of people’s efforts. There was a marriage of effort and thought and that’s when Jordan, my character, was created. If you tell me to hold the guitar and play it, I can’t do it. I need help and support of the crew around me. There are many phases in this character’s life that keep changing because the film spans over eight to ten years. Every phase was interesting. In fact, we went backwards while we were shooting this film. I really enjoyed the phase when my character is in the college because the rest of the film is a little hard for me, to go down that zone and live that experience. I like the college parts because he was that wannabe rockstar and somebody tells him that to become one you had to break your heart. He meets Heer, played by Nargis, and how he impresses her thinking that she will break his heart one day is the best phase of the movie according to me.
Janardhan, your character, stands in front of the poster of Jim Morrison questions himself. But is Ranbir a fan of Jim?
I am a fan of Jim Morrison. But I have always been a bigger Hindi music fan. I’m a bigger Kishore Kumar fan, a bigger Lata Mangeshkar fan, a bigger Mohammed Rafi fan. Having said that, my exposure to English music isn’t that bad. All the rock bands like Led Zeppelin, U2, Pink Floyd, etc, I’m exposed to all of that. My father is a big world music fan. Yes, Janardhan likes Jim Morrison and wants to be like him but doesn’t know how to be. But at the same time, my character isn’t based on Jim Morrison. He is a fan for sure.
And who gave you the name Jordan?
Nargis gave me that name (smiles). Her character gave me the name. Janardhan Jakhad is a ‘jat’ boy from Delhi. Jakhad is a very ‘jat’ name. His name is a little off so the girl gives him the name Jordan and he keeps it from there on till he becomes a rockstar.
What was that one line before Imtiaz signed you on board that made you jump?
Well, it’s actually funny but Rockstar happened because of me. I’ll take credit for it. I remember when I was working in Saawariya, I had started shooting and I had heard of this film being made with another actor. My friend and I used to go for long drives in the night discussing Indian cinema, as usual fans of Hindi films, and that’s when he told me that Imtiaz Ali is making a film and told me a one line of this story. He said that it’s a musical journey of this artist who finally becomes a rockstar after he suffers a heart break. Three years passed and that film never got made. Imtiaz came to me with another script and we interacted on that for a couple of days. One night while he was going home I asked him what’s happening with his ‘Rockstar‘ film because it was really interesting. He said that there were script problems, budget problems, etc. He left, and after two to three weeks he called me and said that he couldn’t get his mind away from the ‘Rockstar‘ movie and that he wanted to give it one more shot at the writing. After three months of working on the script, he came, narrated me the story and it was my good fortune to work with Imtiaz and Rahman sir who was on board. I loved the character of Janardhan Jakhad.
Watch this space for Part 2 of Ranbir Kapoor interview where he answers questions from his fans on twitter and much more!
“I’ve been called the ‘next big thing’ for the longest time” – Ranbir Kapoor: Part 2
Ranbir Kapoor is charming, he is witty and he is ripped. He is as likeable as a guy that handsome can be. Yes, the days of his towel dance are over. It’s the guitar that’s taken over everything now, but that hasn’t changed the fact that he has yet again taken over the centre stage – getting all the attention, the screams, the kisses, the blessings and the undisputed love from his fans. But when I met Ranbir, he looked more to me like a rebel and that one quality any rebel would possess was pretty evident on his face as he answered my questions. It was his greed and anguish to get rid of the tag that he’s been wearing since his debut, ‘The Next Big Thing’. Ranbir quotes, “I guess it’s time for me to shake things up and prove myself. I’ve been called this ‘Next Big Thing’ for the longest time and if I don’t become the ‘big thing’ then someone from behind me will come and become the next big superstar”. With critical acclaim ringing in his ears and a multitude of projects on the go, here’s presenting you the unassuming, unpredictable and uncaged rebel – Part 2 of the Ranbir Kapoor exclusive only on Bollywood Hungama.
“I detached myself from friends and family after I finished Rockstar. I felt very empty”
This character was very difficult for me because I don’t know Janardhan Jakhad. I thought that I had got a role of a lifetime and I had to undergo a lot of prep work superficially. Imtiaz and I went to the ‘jat’ family. We lived with them; we got to know a lot of things: how they spoke, how they ate, their jokes, their relationships, the way they dress, the way they walk, we went dancing with them and also went to the ‘dhaba’. I also learnt how to play the guitar. But I did all this because as an actor I needed to grasp certain nuances. Once we finished the ground work, my aim was to marry Imtiaz’s mind. I remember that after I finished Rockstar I was feeling the void. It felt empty. I lied on my bed and detached myself from my friends and family for quite a few days. Of course, it was a temporary phase. But the whole journey of Rockstar was very gratifying indeed.
“I’ve been called the ‘next big thing’ for the longest time but if I don’t, then someone from behind me will come and become the next big superstar tomorrow”
I am searching for respect, I am searching for greatness in my work, I am searching for a nod of approval from my father. But I really haven’t figured it out yet. It’s been three and a half years and seven films old. I’ve just been lucky and been there at the right place at the right time. I’ve got much more than I deserve by the media, fans and the film fraternity. I guess it’s time for me to shake things up and prove myself. I’ve been called this ‘Next Big Thing’ for the longest time and if I don’t become the ‘big thing’ then I will always be called the ‘Next Big Thing’, and someone from behind me will come and become the next big superstar. I really need to get aware of my career now.
“There’s a difference between interfering and involving. I try to involve myself as much as I can”
I do give my inputs to Imtiaz and the crew. It’s simply because I believe so much in the subject matter. Filmmaking is not a dictatorship; it’s a marriage of mind. You have to have your point of view. You can’t just go there and do as you feel like just because someone tells you to. Imtiaz is not like that. He is very welcoming. He welcomes your point of view. It can also be Inder’s, my spot boy’s, point of view. He is someone who really likes to get everyone involved. There’s a difference between interfering and involving. I try to involve myself as much as I can but I had so much respect for Imtiaz’s talent, his intelligence, his patience, etc. He made the job easy for me. If Rockstar does well, eighty percent of everyone’s victory is Imtiaz’s victory because he has contributed so much.
“I was feeling the heat while I was filming Rockstar with Nargis”
I was feeling the heat while I was filming Rockstar with Nargis (laughs). I was just amazed at the ability of Nargis to give in so much to her role. She didn’t know Hindi, she didn’t know who Imtiaz and I were, she didn’t know who Amitabh Bachchan is, she hasn’t seen any Hindi movie, etc. But Imtiaz just loved her energy. He believed that she is the right girl to play Heer. Nargis worked hard for half a year before she embarked her journey in Rockstar as Heer. Today she writes and learns Hindi and when I saw the film I understood that a girl who doesn’t know craft of acting, really had to go through that experience. She had to feel the emotion. Heer isn’t an easy character to portray. She just doesn’t wear short dresses and runs around the bushes. She is actually the protagonist of the film because everything that happens to Janardhan is because of Heer.
“As far as love is concerned, it’s the greatest emotion in the world”
Love and relationships only adds to the person we become. The relationships you’ve had in life with your girlfriend, family or friends, it just grows you as a person. It enriches you. There are so many experiences that you share with that person. You have an exposure to different kinds of emotions too. As an actor it’s very valuable because you can use those emotions in your work because there is more sense of truth. As far as love is concerned, it’s the greatest emotion in the world. It can drive you to rage, destruction, happiness, bliss, etc. But you should have a sense and sensibility of life. Sometimes relationships don’t work out. You can’t just become angry and use someone else for solace. You should feel the heart break, feel the emotion, the pain, etc.
Wake Up Gourav – When are you joining Twitter?
“Yaar, I’m a little shy to be on Twitter because I feel that it’s not the cool thing to do. I don’t want to clarify rumours, to promote my movies, etc. I am an introvert. I have nothing against people who are on twitter. But as an actor, I would like to withhold some mystery about myself.”
Asad A Khan – What does an actor need most?
“He needs the ability to be shameless.”
Katina Soraya – Stop talking about your private life, will you?
“Well, thank you so much Katina. The thing is that we do an interview that lasts for half an hour and in that there are always two to three personal questions that are thrown in to us by journalists. But people highlight those answers, those questions and blow it up. I cannot shy away from it. I can’t lie. But yes, thank you for your advice and yes, that’s the plan.”
Hena Khan – What’s the finest experience during the filming of Rockstar?
“Hena, the finest experience was the relationship I built with Imtiaz Ali. I’ve learnt so much from that man and I know I’ve made a friend for life.”
Mandvi Sharma – How do you define your generation of Kapoors: Bebo, Lolo and you?
“Hi Mandvi, My family has been contributing to Indian cinema for more than 70 years now and I guess every generation has had a successful actor because we have a sense of individuality. We don’t have a chip on the shoulder and we don’t take our work for granted. I am very proud of Bebo’s and Lolo’s success and talent. I hope our future generations also carry the legacy forward.”
Priya Sharma – Do you want to get married to someone from the industry or outside the industry?
“Priya, the unfortunate thing is that we don’t really have a life outside our movies. We are really caught up with our work and we have to sacrifice a lot of our personal life too. We don’t often meet real people and the only people we meet are from the industry. I don’t really have a fixed notion if I’ll get married to someone from the industry or outside the industry. Love happens at any point but the day I fall in love, I’ll definitely get married.”
Garima Wadhwa – What do you think of Imtiaz as a person?
“Garima, we all know that Imtiaz is a terrific director but let me tell you; he is the finest person I’ve ever met in my life.”
Rahul Datta – Is Rockstar or Barfee your career best so far?
“Well, as of now I’ve surrendered myself to Rockstar. Barfee, we have finished 40%. So let’s see, after I finish Barfee may be it will turn out to be my best.”
Amazyn Peri – Have you been to Scotland? How is it?
“I’d love to go to Glasgow some day. I’m glad that you want me to visit Scotland and even I too want to. So, I shall remember that.”
Zinnia – How do you manage your hectic schedule and still look so calm?
“Zinnia, I love what I do and I am very grateful that I am getting to do what I love. Everybody should do what they love in life because that’s what’s important. That’s what will keep you fresh and look calm after hectic schedules.”