In a freewheeling chat with Mid-day, Ranbir Kapoor talks about being arrogant yet secure about his talent, learning from his mistakes and being the ‘man’ of his house.
Q. You are still not a hero with a six pack abs, you are the boy next door. Why?
A. That is so not me. If there is a character that needs to have that kind of body, I would do it, but the films I am doing don’t require that. I generally do films for the young audience, the audience which relates to you. Having the qualities of a hero is something, but that attempt and that journey to be a hero is something else. I always believed in being an underhero, like Roberto Benigni or Raj Kapoor in ‘Shree 420’. The attempt to do something is greater than the glory of it. I tried being the hero in ‘Besharam’ and realised that I don’t have the aura or the conviction to be the typical Hindi film hero like Salman (Khan), Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay (Kumar) or Ajay Devgn… they have the persona and the confidence. I don’t have that. Right now I am happy playing the underdog — the guy who’s trying to be a hero.
Q.Times are also changing. The audience doesn’t expect everyone to be larger than life.
A. The glory of stardom is fading. The good thing is that the content, movie and the director are the stars. Anyway people don’t go to watch a film unless it is those blockbuster stars. So, I am happy if the content gets superstardom status, then more people will come to the theatres.
Q. You were lucky to become a brand after your first few films…
A. I guess. But you have to constantly keep working to maintain that, to keep winning over the audience. After ‘Wake Up Sid’ and ‘Rocket Singh’, though it didn’t work, people had an idea of what I do. They built that perception. But when you do a bad film, like I did Besharam, then the audience starts wondering where you are really headed. That affects you. So you have to constantly keep doing better.
Q. Did you sit back and reevaluate your choices after Besharam’s debacle?
A. Subconsciously, yes. I understood that I was taking my audience for granted. So it was a good lesson. It was a very positive mistake that I made.
Q. Do you think it affected your brand value?
A. We are all as good as our last film. Nobody remembers anything but your last film. Like recently I was dubbing for the audio visuals for Shashi Kapoor and that’s when I realised how much he’s contributed to films. I had forgotten all about his contributions. So yes, ‘Besharam’ affected me and also perhaps that’s the reason why there is a negativity around ‘Bombay Velvet’. It is a kind of a pressure, but that is exciting, because I know the intention here is right.
Q. For someone who’s an urban kid, was getting the body language of a ’60s guy in Bombay Velvet difficult?
A. I try to marry the director’s mind. I don’t have a solid personality myself; I find myself very boring. So I borrow the personality that the director brings to me. It is a departure from who actually I am. I don’t do any homework, I just try to understand what the director wants. I am arrogant enough to know that I have the talent, but I am also wise enough to know that I need to borrow from other people’s experiences.
I am a closed person. I am incapable of openly showing my emotions. And cinema is where I have found a medium to express myself. I was born in Bandra and went to America for studies. How will I ever have the depth of experience of directors who have had a different kind of life? Like Imtiaz Ali comes from Jamshedpur, Anurag (Kashyap) comes from Gorakhpur…Ayan (Mukherji)…these people give me another facet to my personality. I don’t know better than them. I am the ‘Wake Up Sid’, ‘Yeh Jawani…’ fellow. I have no life experiences beyond that. So I am grateful that these people are giving me what I don’t know. Aamir Khan had given me a solid advice before I joined films. He asked me to travel across the country, saying it will expand your horizon. At that time I wondered what was he saying. But now I think he was right. We need to get out of our cocoons and see the real world before we become actors.
Q. The Kapoors have always gone with the flow, have not really planned too much…
A. Exactly. Because we know that we are just actors and shouldn’t take ourselves so seriously, we are not saving the world. We are not doctors, engineers or scientists at NASA. Hum toh bas actors hain. I have not planned anything. ‘Saawariya’ (2007) just happened and everything else followed on its own. I never grabbed a film, or snatched a film from someone. Maybe ‘Bombay Velvet’ won’t work, but as long as I know that the intention was right, I am okay. Anyway, I think if you plan too much, God starts laughing up there.
Q. Do you think your cocooned upbringing will be a deterrent when you turn director and want to tell a story?
A. Of course. You need to have experienced real life to tell a story of that kind. (Smiles) But you never know, I might tell a desi story.
Q. Your dad Rishi Kapoor is a rage on Twitter….
A. (Laughs) What you see of him on Twitter is what he is in real life. Twitter and him are great together, like a match made in heaven. He is a funny man and on the ball with whatever is happening around us. When he joined Twitter, main aur mummy darr gaye the. We were worried there will be controversies because here people don’t give you too much freedom to express yourself. Things get distorted and misrepresented. But we are happy to see him enjoying himself.
Q. Now that you have moved out of your parents’ house, how has your equation with them changed?
A. I feel grown up now. In that house (his parents’ house), I would always be the boy. Now I am the man of my house and the equation changes. Anyway, my dad is someone who I will always respect the most, because he’s my reality check. He doesn’t gloat about my successes and reminds me of my failures. He is always silently looking after me and making sure I don’t fall and make the right choices. Now that I have moved out, I feel more responsible. I have to switch off the lights, AC, etc because of electricity bills (grins). I am signing the cheques, making all the decisions — if the cook wants to go on leave or the driver wants an advance on his salary. But that also makes me value my parents more. I used to take them for granted and wouldn’t even go down to meet them when I stayed there. But now I visit them regularly, even daily if I am not shooting.
Q. You don’t have a publicist…
A. If I had a publicist, his/her job would be to keep me out of news. I see PR people fighting among themselves. I have nothing against them, but it is necessary that we use PR people intelligently. I don’t want to plant stories about myself — like I am this, doing this charity, being paid so much… I think a little bit of mystery always helps, it makes the audience miss you. Like I told you, I am arrogant and secure enough to know my work is good, so the rest of the stuff doesn’t matter. I see a lot of people on Twitter and Facebook, as if they are in a 24×7 press conference. You start tweeting about things and then you make an image for yourself. That becomes artificial and you start living in the bubble of your own image. I would rather be myself and just be.