The theme of this season of To Catch a Star is Rising Talents. It is an interesting time for Indian cinema. The new order is steadily replacing the old. Every other week, bright new actors, filmmakers, and technicians stand out from the crowd and show promise. On this show, we are dedicated to finding out what made them choose their craft and what makes them tick.
Rajeev Masand: My guest today is a fourth generation star, whose debut film tanked last year. But following the release of his second film, the verdict is unanimous. Ranbir Kapoor is an actor to look out for. Ranbir, welcome to the show.
Ranbir Kapoor: Thank you, Rajeev.
Rajeev Masand: I have to ask you first. Why did you want to be an actor?
Ranbir Kapoor: I think it is mandatory. I have grown up around films, surrounded by films. Everybody from my great grandfather to my parents, all their cousins and brothers and sisters have been actors. I have just loved the profession. I have just loved the smell of films, the feel of films, the taste of films. I guess, there was never a day when I sat my parents down and said I want to be an actor. It was always pre-decided by everyone on the day I was born that I was going to be an actor.
Rajeev Masand: You didn’t want to act?
Ranbir Kapoor: I was never forced to. I guess, even if I wanted to be a doctor or an engineer, my parents wouldn’t mind. They wouldn’t put pressure saying that you have to be in films. I don’t this films is such a profession where parents actually force their children to be a part of films. It is something where you actually should find a passion of it on your own.
Rajeev Masand: Did you think that you would be good at it?
Ranbir Kapoor: You can’t really say a person is going to be good or bad. It is something that you definitely want to try. Yes, you definitely feel that you have an edge over people who are starting at the same time because you were born to a film family. There is a sense of confidence in you that you know more about cinema. You know a little bit about acting because you are probably are surrounded by it and talk a lot about it. Yes, the confidence was there but I really wasn’t overconfident thinking that I will be good or bad.
Rajeev Masand: I think you will agree with me that most aspirants get into acting for all the wrong reasons. Whether is it money, glamour or fame or whether it is simply because they don’t know how to do anything else.
Ranbir Kapoor: Well, I disagree because I think films is also such a profession where once you become an actor, even if you don’t taste success, you just get absorbed by it. I don’t think an actor once he started working on a film or a film is released, even if the film is a failure or he has been rejected by the audiences, somewhere in his heart, he still wants to pursue it. It is a dream lots of people have. It is something that you really have to work hard towards. Lot of people have a misconception that acting is really simple and it is all about going to the gym and learning horse riding and learning how to dance, and you can become an actor. But once you start, it is beyond that. It is the time between action and cut that you live that life. I think that is the most important part of an actor.
Rajeev Masand: But isn’t it true — you don’t have an academic qualification, you don’t want to get a nine to five job, just become an actor. It seems to be easiest thing isn’t it? There is so much mediocrity?
Ranbir Kapoor: Yes of course, it is an easy process to get into but at the same time there. Is a lot of hard work involved? It is like any other profession. It is just a little bit more glamorous but for that glamour, there is s a lot of hard work to put in the glamour.
Rajeev Masand: If your acting career didn’t work out, what would you do? What else are you good at?
Ranbir Kapoor: A struggling actor. I don’t think I can do anything beyond acting. I do want to direct films.
Rajeev Masand: Then its true isn’t it that sometimes people become actors because that is all that they can do?
Ranbir Kapoor: No, that is all they want to do. There is a difference between that. Everyone thinks that they can do everything. They don’t want to limit themselves. I am going to speak for myself, because I am in love with films. I am so passionate about cinema. So, I wouldn’t want to do anything beyond cinema. I also want to contribute to Indian cinema. My family has been contributing for 75 years. I had the opportunity to do something and I wouldn’t like to take that for granted.
Rajeev Masand: If you could turn back time and make your debut all over again, what film would you choose.
Ranbir Kapoor: Saawariya 100 times over.
Rajeev Masand: Really?
Ranbir Kapoor: Absolutely, because firstly I got to work with my favourite director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who according to me is one of the finest filmmakers of today’s time. Everything I know about acting is through him. I have realised how much hard work is put into films, how much of passion, how much of sacrifice is put into films.
Rajeev Masand: You would have got that in any other films, you would still choose the worst reviewed film of the year, one of the biggest disasters of last year. You would back and make your film in the same exact film?
Ranbir Kapoor: Absolutely, because what ever little appreciation or everything that I am today is because of that film.
Rajeev Masand: Don’t you think that you would have got that had you made your debut in any other films?
Ranbir Kapoor: I could have done that but the question is which film would I debut in and it would always be Saawariya
Rajeev Masand: When Sanjay Leela first gave you the narration for Saawariya, did you get it?
Ranbir Kapoor: Absolutely. I remember the day when he just called me. He really didn’t narrate the film to me. He had the script in the computer and he called me over and he said he had finally had the draft out and he wanted me to read it and react to it. I am a huge Sanjay Leela Bhansali fan. When I read the film, the film did something to me. The character did something to me. It was something that I was dying to play. That was just a start to it. As simple as that. There was not thinking. There was no going to home and thinking about it, should I do it or not. It was spontaneous reaction. I read the script. I said I sir, I am excited, let’s start.
Rajeev Masand: So you understood the film and you understood what he was making?
Ranbir Kapoor: Of course.
Rajeev Masand: Were you surprised then the film came out and no one seemed to understand it – not critics, not the audience. A 25-year-old actor got the film and he read it, but no else seemed to have.
Ranbir Kapoor: Honestly, I can’t really individually go to every person trying to contradict what they think of the film. At the end, the audience is the king. What they think of a film is the right opinion of the film. I still stick by my decision of doing the film. I love the film. I love the character. I love the fact that I was getting to work with Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
Rajeev Masand: So you didn’t do it just because you would be a fool not to do a Sanjay Bhansali film?
Ranbir Kapoor: Absolutely not. I come from a family and also I was the newcomer whom people were looking out for. I was getting really good offers and really tempting offers. It was always my dream to work with Sanjay Bhansali because I have been a big Devdas fan and I have worked with him as an assistant in that. I understood his vision. He had a vision before the film and we interacted a lot. I know that the people did not get it (Saawariya), but I totally got his vision. I totally understood what he was out there to do.
Rajeev Masand: How did you feel when the film bombed?
Ranbir Kapoor: Obviously, it is disheartening. You have worked so hard for 2 years of your life. It’s your first film and you feel you are invincible. You feel that nothing is going to put you down and that it is the best thing in the world. I think it was a Mughal-e-Azam, but at the end of the day, I am still proud of the film. I am still proud of the fact that I was a part of a movie like Saawariya.
Rajeev Masand: Was it enough for you that people like you in it?
Ranbir Kapoor: Of course, that is always an added bonus that people have appreciated my work. I got numerous calls and I got such great offers and opportunities to work with such great directors. Everything worked out for me.
Rajeev Masand: Was Saawariya’s failure harder on you because another film that was released on the same day Om Shanti Om went on to become such a big hit?
Ranbir Kapoor: Honestly, when you are debuting, when it is your first film, it really doesn’t matter even if it is a Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan or Salman Khan film releasing the same day. At the end of the day, it is your film. It is the biggest film ever. You have lived 25 years of your life for that day. For that time, audience will see you and judge you in a good way obviously. So that really didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was Saawariya, my performance, and the fate of the film.
Rajeev Masand: I know it’s a scene that was eventually cut out from the film, but I want to know, was it hard to convince you to do that towel dropping, backside baring scene in Saawariya?
Ranbir Kapoor: Not at all because I knew this before hand way before even the song got recorded. Mr Bhansali had this idea of doing a song about a boy’s private moment at home. When he has fallen in love for the first time and how he is going to be. Obviously, it was also Mr Bhansali’s tribute to Raj Kapoor’s Bobby when my father did something similar to that.
Rajeev Masand: That is so different because in Bobby, the scene was that someone walks in accidentally when you dad was changing. In this it was a boy flashing pretty much. It is pretty different.
Ranbir Kapoor: I don’t think it was suggestive. I don’t think people can read into a lot of meanings. It is really simple. It was supposed to be pure. Lot of girls liked it. Half of the fan following that I have today is because of that song. I have no complaints. I also think that it was tastefully done. I really enjoyed performing that son.
Rajeev Masand: Did you feel like it was wasted when it got cut out of the film?
Ranbir Kapoor: That shot?
Rajeev Masand: Yes.
Ranbir Kapoor: No, I mean yes I did feel bad because I did eighteen takes of that shot trying to get it right, yes you do feel bad when you work hard on something and even the audience does not get to see it.
Rajeev Masand: Was it awkward to do it on set?
Ranbir Kapoor: Not at all. I am quite shy and introvert person in my real life but I guess for cinema, when the camera is there for a purpose, you just want to do everything. Especially someone who is as eager as me. I just want to please the audience. I want to do good work. So I think there is room for realising the importance of a shot.
Rajeev Masand: What is the best film you have seen this year?
Ranbir Kapoor: Nothing. So far, I don’t think I have liked anything.
Rajeev Masand: Did you see Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na?
Ranbir Kapoor: Yes.
Rajeev Masand: What do you think of it?
Ranbir Kapoor: It was a good film. I understood the purpose of the film. It was a fun film. When I was in the theatre, I enjoyed the experience, but I wouldn’t say it is the best film so far.
Rajeev Masand: What do you think of Imran Khan?
Ranbir Kapoor: Extremely talented. I absolutely loved his performance. I think he was very natural on screen. He is a great looker. I am really glad that I have someone to share the burden with trying to take the Indian cinema forward.
Rajeev Masand: If you could remake any one of your dad’s film, what would you choose?
Ranbir Kapoor: Honestly, I don’t believe in remakes. I don’t think any classic or an old film should be remade. I think that is just an escapist way of making money.
Rajeev Masand: If any one of your dad’s film was made in your time. Which is the film would you have liked to be a part of?
Ranbir Kapoor: I am such a huge fan of his, all his works. It is really hard to choose. I love his work in Mera Naam Joker where he played the adolescent teenager, to Karz, Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin, Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai. I think Sargam is an extremely difficult role for an actor to play. Especially, in India film, the audience is usually made to believe that an actor can do everything. He knows how to sing a song, he knows how to play an instrument but actors don’t know all of that. They are playacting. But just the way that my father essayed that role in Sargam with so much of passion, so much of elegance and grace with a duffali (tambourine), he actually looked like a duffaliwala (tambourine man). I think he was great in that film. Lots more, I think I can go on and on and write a whole thesis on his performances.
Rajeev Masand: What is your opinion on the Karz remake that Himesh Reshmiya is doing?
Ranbir Kapoor: Not too high because it leads to its own. I think Himesh is an extremely talented composer. I am sure the songs are going to be great. I look forward to the movie. I want to see what he has done to the film.
Rajeev Masand: How good a critic are you of your own work?
Ranbir Kapoor: I am damn good critic of myself. I don’t like anything of my own. Yes I do get contradicted when two of my movies are out now. In both of them I have got good share of praises in them but when I see it, I cringe. I can’t see it myself on the screen.
Rajeev Masand: Can you be objective about your films as a whole?
Ranbir Kapoor: I can judge a film more than my performance. I can tell if a film is good or bad.
Rajeev Masand: So what would you say about Bachna Aye Hasino ?
Ranbir Kapoor: I signed on to do this film after reading the script. I believed in the script, believed in Siddarth’s conviction and Aditya Chopra’s decision and I stick by it. It is may decision. I can’t say that today if the film has a mixed response, if some has really liked it and someone has not liked it, I can’t really say, you have to blame the writer or the director. I think the blame will be shared with everyone and the credit will also be shared. I think it is a good film. I do not think it is a bad film.
Rajeev Masand: How would you explain your mood right now. There is obviously a fair amount of pressure on you because you have been accepted into the fold so to speak. You are an actor who can deliver the goods. That much we know. The two films and mixed responses. What is really the pressure on you, to choose the best films now?
Ranbir Kapoor: You really can’t do that. How do I know the fate of a film. I am still going to go with my conviction, my gut feeling. I don’t regret any of my decisions so far. But where my future is concerned, the kind of films I want to do, I think, I will still go with the same mind set. To be with good films, to work with good director.
Rajeev Masand: So you reactive instinctively, spontaneously?
Ranbir Kapoor: Absolutely. After I really react to a script, the only thing I do is I give my mother the script just for a second opinion. That really matters to me.
Rajeev Masand: That’s interesting. I think you would ask you dad?
Ranbir Kapoor: My dad himself is very uncomfortable involving himself in my career right now. As far as the monetary sides, I do take his help but with the creative side, he would prefer if I did it on my own.
Rajeev Masand: Aamir Khan offered you a part in a film that he was producing, Delhi Belly. How come that did not happen?
Ranbir Kapoor: I think when Aamir sir was planning Delhi Belly at the same time I was in talks with Raj Kumar Santoshi for his film and Delhi Belly got a little delayed because they had some problems with the director. I already had committed to Mr Santoshi. The dates were clashing.
Rajeev Masand: So there is not truth to the fact that you were turned off by the bold nature of that script?
Ranbir Kapoor: Absolutely not. Yes, it was a little shocking when I read it but I think the way the script is, I think it is a brilliant script. I am pretty sure and confident that it is going to turn out to be a damn good movie.
Rajeev Masand: You are shooting a film with Raj Kumar Santoshi, it is a film that is being produced by Ramesh Taurani of TIPS, I am told that the fee that you have got for this film is so high that it is a number that I am afraid to take on TV because the taxman will be at your home.
Ranbir Kapoor: I disagree. I think in today’s day and age because of the audience getting larger, budgets are going higher. So it is relative, even actors’ fees go high. I am a newcomer. Ramesh Taurani has been in this industry for a long time. He has worked with lot of big actors. I sure he is not going to someone so much of money if that person is not worth it or that film would not start. The investors would not put in the money if so much money was being distributed to someone who they thought was not worth it. At the end of the day, it is something which always discussed. It is not like saying I have a price tag which comes with me and you have to sign me for this much price otherwise I won’t do your film. I like the film, I am doing the film. I like the character. I wanted to work with Mr Santoshi. There is nothing to do with price. I am glad that I am offered such sums of money. I have not seen all of this. I have always been brought up in quite a disciplined way. I have had pocket moneys. But as you see so much of money coming your way, it is scary and at that same time, its like I am rich. Good feeling.
Rajeev Masand: That’s exactly what I want to talk to you about. Does it scare you that this is the kind of money that people are willing to invest in you and hence you obviously feel like a commodity, I am guessing that you have to deliver, that there is a pressure on you?
Ranbir Kapoor: I disagree. I think it just instills a bit of confidence in you. You hear so much about actor prices in the newspapers and televisions. It was like wow, what if I was offered that much of money and when you actually get offered that much of money, you feel good. You feel like you are getting somewhere there. It feels great and at the end of the day you just have to deliver. Because then you are spoilt. You are offered such money. You have to keep up the level of performance and your stardom because it only going to drop. So if you want to go higher, you do get a little greedy, so you have to work hard. It also drives you to work harder.
Rajeev Masand: You attended Lee Strasburg, what have you learnt there?
Ranbir Kapoor: Experience. You are constantly interacting with fellow actors from different parts of the world. You are exposed to different cultures. You get exposed to Lees Strasburg methods, which is quite stupid. I don’t buy it because it makes an actor very methodical, it makes him very studied. It makes an actor very performed. It takes out the spontaneity in you. So I don’t believe in the method. I just want to get exposed to it and of course I wanted to have a holiday in New York.
Rajeev Masand: So what is your approach? If the method doesn’t work for you?
Ranbir Kapoor: I don’t know if I have an approach. I can’t really put it into words. It is a process. Filmmaking is not only going to the sets and saying what the dialog is. The process starts the day you read a script and you like it and the process starts then. Things come into your mind. You start with a vision and you go along with it. Also, there has to be a marriage between the director and you, the other actors who are involved in the film. I think the entire process is what is really enriching and fulfilling at the end of the film.
Rajeev Masand: It was very fashionable before with actors to say they were prepared for this role and largely preparation in this country and in this industry means changing the look perhaps whether it is a hairstyle, whether it is a sense of dressing, or whether it is physically getting into the role. Usually, it is very superficial kind of preparation.
Ranbir Kapoor: It is superficial but I guess there is an other side of preparing. There are two sides.
Rajeev Masand: Isn’t that because there aren’t just great characters being written?
Ranbir Kapoor: I think there are two sides. There is an external preparation and there is an internal preparation. What actors usually like to talk about is an external preparation. I think the internal preparation is a bit too personal. There is a lot of emotional memory that comes to preparing a role which people are shy about because it is a bit too personal to talk about. Sometimes it’s a dark side of human being which comes before. But when an external preparation is concerned, that is only visual preparation that you can see, a haircut or a body build or change of costume. It is more talkable.
Rajeev Masand: Let’s try this. For Bachna Aye Hasino, what was the internal preparation if there was any. How would you approach it?
Ranbir Kapoor: I don’t think Bachna aye Hasino required any internal preparation because it is a very youthful film, I am quite comfortable with. We all have had relationships in our lives. I have had too. So, there was no preparation as such. It was a relatively easier film for me than Saawariya where the character is concerned, but at the same time, it was tougher because it had a Sanjay Bhansali holding my finger, guiding me through, here I had to do it on my own.
Rajeev Masand: Someone who has gone abroad and studied, whose watch cinema from all over the world I know, what is the ultimate for an actor in your opinion?
Ranbir Kapoor: There are many, I am quite selfish, Raj Kapoor in Shri 420, Bal Raj Sahini in Do Bigha Zameen. At the same time, Shah Rukh Khan in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayengey to Amitabh Bacchhan in Sharabi, Rishi Kapoor in Karz, Dharmendra in Satyakam, then Heath Ledger as the Joker in The Dark Knight, that is something which I have recently seen, and I was quite hammered by seeing what he has done.
Rajeev Masand: Best of luck, looking forward to seeing lots of you. We hope that this promise sort of pays off, that we see you do different things, things that constantly surprise us, things that will excite you. We will be closely tracking your career.