Up, close & personal

7 years ago by in Interviews Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

In just three years and six films, Ranbir Kapoor’s asking price has touched Rs 10 crore, a feat few can match, at 27. Though this fourth-generation Kapoor may loathe becoming a slot machine for the success-hungry Hindi film industry, for now, he is definitely the most bankable actor in his age group. And he has a long run ahead with no competition snapping at his heels. A peep into the mind of GenNext of Bollywood, as he puts up his feet, relaxes and sips green tea to soothe his sore throat. In conversation with ET:

ON COMMERCE…

It means everything. Filmmaking is a profession, an art which is a very expensive commodity. If it does not have any commercial gain, it does not make any sense. Having grown up in a film family, I have always been shielded from the business of cinema. But slowly, as a working professional, you realise, what the value of a commercial hit is.

Critical acclaim is fine, but unless it’s watched by hundreds of people and makes profit for all, it does not make sense. We do not make movies for ourselves or for our friends. We are trying to impress an entire nation of moviegoers which means we need a good wholesome, entertaining film — that’s the bottomline of every film.

SUCCESS VS FAILURE…

Definitely, you feel gutted when a film does not do well, especially a film you really believe in. But then, that’s the beauty of cinema, you never know what runs and what doesn’t. But when a film like Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year, makes only a certain amount of money it’s not enough.

If a film does not run, there are no reasons — it has not run because the audience has not connected to it and you have to take the blame for it. You cannot live in denial or a fool’s paradise and say this was wrong or that was wrong. You have to think in retrospect, take the blame and move on — make another film and hope it does well.

ON CHOOSING FILMS…

It has to be instinctive for me. I have never had a plan. It’s also about being at the right place at the right time. There are certain moments in your life when you get five offers, out of which you like one, not because it’s the right film to do at that time in your life, but because that film connects with you, the character connects, the director has a good story to tell — all of which are important and you go with your gut. Some films do well while some don’t.

But because Rocket Singh failed at the box-office, it’s not as if I would change my notion of deciding on films. I would still do a Rocket Singh because that’s the kind of cinema I connect with. For me, Rocket Singh and Wake Up Sid are films I connect with. An Ajab Prem is a commercial success but it’s a world I do not know, it’s fictitious, it was a comedy, while I know Harpreet and Sid — these are characters I have hung out with. So, it’s all subject to the beliefs that you have about cinema.

I BELIEVE…

Everyone has one mother belief — I know I have one too but I can’t sum it up in words. I know I have a goal but I do not know what it is. I believe you can be the greatest actor alive or the greatest star possible but the problem with me is that I want to be both — when I die I want to be remembered as a great actor and a big star, not someone who was just part of the movies.

I want to contribute to the film industry, I have a legacy to carry forward — but it is not something which bogs me down. In fact, I am extremely grateful that I have been born in this family. Yes, I have got it easier than possibly millions who come to this industry, but I too have my own struggles which may not be of the same magnitude but that does not take away my struggles.

CLASSICS FOREVER…

Watching classics was a huge learning curve. Take Do Bigha Zameen — it’s a film where the characters work. You are connected with a world which was way back there and yet today’s audience can connect — that’s the power of cinema. The classics had films which were not just topical but dwelt on human traits, like say Mehboob Khan’s Andaaz or all of Guru Dutt’s films, from Pyaasa to Kaagaz Ke Phool (my favourite).

In fact, the latter is one of the greatest films of Indian cinema — Guru Dutt had a story which he really believed in, which he thought would make good cinema. Today, people do not put their all into a movie because there is always a next one, a back-up which may take you out of a rut. For those filmmakers their film was their life. There are many examples of people who mortgaged their houses to raise money to make the film. They made movies like kings.

MY JOURNEY OF CINEMA BEGAN…

The day I was born. Born to a film family, my life has always been films. I have known no other ‘normal’ way of life apart from movies. Story sittings, music sittings and actors and ‘glamorous’ actresses coming home, donning make-up, was all part of my growing-up years. There was no eureka moment, the connect with cinema happened subconsciously, it could have been watching a Shahrukh Khan running in slow motion or a Mithun Chakraborty doing disco dancing. I have grown up watching movies, from Guru Dutt to the trashy ones as well, mainly the early to late 80s ones.

SANJAY LEELA BHANSALI…

When I was in the US, I started getting a lot of film offers from really good directors and then I saw Devdas. I connected to the magnanimity, the performances and the vision. Maybe because I was in the US and seeing a Hindi film, not one shot on foreign locales or influenced by DKNYs etc. It was a film I was proud to show my fellow American students who were blown by the colour and glamour. I decided here was a director I really wanted to work with.

Without asking my parents, I made a resume of my work and dropped it in at his house. I met up with him the same evening. He asked why I wanted to assist him and not act? I convinced him that I wanted to be an assistant director before I essayed a role. There is no school like that of a film set, it’s hands-on, seeing the legends perform, costumes, music — it’s a world that you just have to surrender to.

From the protected life I had led so far, the year working with SLB, really hardened me. I am really grateful to him for giving me so much as a film student, as an assistant and as a person. Using public transport, spending from my pocket money to go to work (may sound pseudo intellectual to say so) really showed me a different side of life and I realised the value of a lot of things. Whatever I know about films or acting, I always attribute it to Mr Bhansali.

Being an AD, is hard life, from 5 am to 4 am with an hour of sleep, first to arrive, last to leave. In fact, once, he was really pissed of with us, he made us (me and another AD) kneel down for two-three hours.

Watching Amitabh Bachchan act on the sets of Black I saw how much an actor contributes and what level he can take a film to. I was never a big AB fan because I came in much later into this world. After I saw his talent and passion, my own passion for becoming an actor grew hundred-fold.

SAAWARIYA…

It may have not worked commercially but it was a story I really connected to, one I gave two years of my life to. I understood why SLB wanted to make this film. In fact, he had three films in his mind then-a Romeo and Juliet set in Gujarat, Saraswatichandra and this one based on Dosteyeskvy’s novel, Four Nights of a Dreamer. So Sonam and me, did a photo shoot — this kept coming back to us. I would debut in Saawariya again. It made me what I am today, it was my film school, my training.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS…

I don’t live in a fool’s paradise. Besides it doesn’t scare me because I haven’t reached where I want to reach. I also feel that I have got a lot of undeserving attention as well. Yes, my movies have been appreciated and my work has been liked. Because of my family’s contribution to cinema, blessings, being at the right place at the right time, luck, so many factors have played a role.

Of course, I am arrogant enough to say that I have talent. I know my work, I love my work. It’s not even overhyped in my head about being part of a movie. It’s like waking up in the morning, brushing my teeth, having my breakfast, driving my car to the film set, working the entire day, breaking for lunch, continue working, being intelligent and doing something that you love, packing up and coming home and sleeping. These are normal days for me. I don’t live in a fantasy world myself.

For me, being an actor is something I am very passionate about. But it’s a profession, one which I have chosen to make as a way of life. It’s something that I enjoy doing, though I do have a reality check on it. I can’t float with what people have to say, the characters I play and the make up I wear. There is a sense of reality. I need to keep my sanity in check.

COMPLACENCY FEARS…

Yes. I do feel complacent but I also feel I am deserving, because I have worked hard and I feel I am talented enough. I have worked with directors who have propelled me to be where I am today. I have played certain characters which writers have written. I haven’t really thought about it. I am happy. Life’s good and my parents are proud. Money was never an issue in my life. I have grown up in luxury. So, it was never my drive. My drive has always been to be the greatest. Raj Kapoor is my idol and I want to achieve what he’s done. It doesn’t come easy and there is a lot of hard work involved.

THE RK BANNER…

I was born with that brand and it’s part of my priority. Revival is the wrong word because nothing needs a revision. In films, nothing is forgotten. All one needs to do is start a movie. The adjectives like re-start, revival are attached by others. There is nothing like RK has come back from the dead.

ON SHRI 420…

I love everything about the movie — the simplicity, the music and the world. You connect with films and characters like that. Another example is Roberto Benigni’s Life Is Beautiful. You want to follow their story, want them to win, laugh with them and cry with them. There are two aspects to being an actor. The audience has to connect with your performances and it has to like you as an individual.

If you are not a likeable person then, however good an actor you may be, you will not succeed because the audience has to connect with you as a person also. I do not mean that you have to put up this facade but you should be as real as possible and honest to your work. And you have to smile. It’s not very hard to do all these things.

MOVIE MANIAC…

I used to watch two movies a day, before I started working as an actor. Now that I am a part of movies, I have become a bit arrogant and think there is no need to watch them anymore. But that’s something that I have to correct because its an organic process. One has to be aware of what the world is making and the kind of levels cultures are reaching. It was a passion first but I have to use it as an exercise now.

YOUNG DIRECTORS…

I connect with their sensibilities. But I will work with directors like Mr Bhansali any day of the year because they are great directors. Age has nothing to do with it. My grandfather made his first movie when he was 21. You meet a director, be it 40 or 20, you can tell if this guy has a story to tell. If he has, you become selfish and want to be a part of his movie.

DIFFERENT STROKES…

Ayan (Mukherjee) is going to be one of the finest directors in Indian cinema because of his exposure to life. He has taken in a lot as an individual from music, movies and performances. He is someone whom anyone can connect with. Take Mr Prakash Jha. He is from Bihar and is very rooted. I had a great connect with him because he is a director who had a story to tell. He spent four years nourishing this dream. He is someone who is at ease talking to Nana Patekar and he can connect with me as well. That’s the thing you are receptive to. If you see such individuals, you become receptive and start developing those qualities within.

‘GREY’ SHADES IN RAAJNEETI…

There are few films and few characters that you connect deeply with. Here, I had good dialogues as well as good background music to fill my silences and I had a good director who had a vision of this character. Besides, you give a character a purpose to be grey and he ceases to be so. Here he was not a villain who is raping women. His cause was for the family and family is a very strong element in our cinema.

Again, it was an organic process for me. It took a couple of days of shooting to know the character, to do a couple of scenes and then understand him. After the release of the film, I don’t think I contributed to this movie as much as I could have because I didn’t understand the complexities at the time I was doing it. Maybe, I was inexperienced. When I was dubbing the movie and I went ‘Oh! This is what it meant’. But the director just knew and he guided me.

SELF ANALYSIS AFTER THE MOVIE…

I suck! I never like myself. I am not one of those actors who constantly look at themselves in the mirror. I feel I have really bad hair, big forehead, a long face, have a big upper torso and thin legs. This is the sense of reality I have about myself. About my movies, I feel I am a good actor but I always feel ‘I missed it!’ On the whole, it works. Because if a movie works, everything works. Hit hai toh fit hai. But as an individual character, I have some problems. I hope I have this all my life. It will instigate and drive me always.

BEING A CROWD PULLER…

It is a star-based industry. Actors drive scripts and the audience to the cinema house. If you make a great film and don’t have SRK or Aamir Khan in it, how are you going to show it to the world? In Raajneeti’s context, I know I have a certain fan following among youngsters. Katrina is a big star. But at the same time, Ajay Dvgan brings his own audience. Nana Patekar, Arjun Rampal and Manoj Bajpai bring in theirs. So everyone’s audience put together makes the success of a movie. If there were five people, we all have contributed equally. The film is successful, that’s what’s important.

PRICE AS A BAROMETER OF SUCCESS…

Price is important. But in this industry, the price is subject to the success of your last movie. Money has never been a driving force for me. But money is the barometer of how successful you are. I don’t understand how certain producers put a certain amount on an actor. If my movie does a business of Rs 80 crore, and SRK’s movie also rakes in Rs 80 crore, that doesn’t mean I should be paid as much as SRK is paid.

Because SRK will guarantee you 10 times the success than I can. Yet, it feels great that I am 27 years old and making so much of money. But money is something that will come and go but will never affect me. A film will affect me more than money.

BEHIND THE CAMERA…

That is an immature dream I have. But like I said, how I meet directors and say that he has a story to tell, I don’t have a story to tell right now. I am incapable of directing a movie right now. Tomorrow, if I make a movie, people will give me money but it would be a bad movie. I don’t wish to make a bad movie.

A PRACTICAL GENERATION…

Being practical is not a bad thing. I think my generation lives in an ideal world but I am a dreamer as well. There are things that disconnect me from life and reality. I dream about everything from movies to football.

Source: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/et-cetera/Up-close–personal-with-Ranbir-Kapoor/articleshow/6065822.cms