Ahead of the release of his next, ‘Besharam’, Ranbir Kapoor plays down his stardom and his dancing ability and talks about the importance of good music and the leading lady in a film.
Question: Your last film, Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani (YJHD) made Rs 200 crore, helping you cross over to the ‘superstar’ league.
Ranbir Kapoor: I want to become a superstar, but for that, I first have to be a super actor. To choose good scripts and work with the right directors is the first step. But more importantly, I need a larger body of work. The word ‘superstar’ these days is used for anybody who delivers a Friday hit. Amitabh Bachchan and the Khans have worked for many years. They have also given back to society. I am just 14 films and six years old in the industry. I know I’ll achieve it in a few years from now and I’m arrogant enough to say that, but now isn’t the time.
Ques: Besharam is a comedy, a genre you haven’t attempted before.
Ranbir Kapoor: The closest I came to the genre was with Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, which was an over-the-top situational comedy. This one is hard for me — characters such as Babli Jaan need more conviction and belief because there’s dialoguebaazi, herogiri and the film plays to the gallery. In contrast, I have done more loser type and coming-of-age roles. He is loud, vulgar and repulsive but we hope people will like him over the course of the film. Babli acts on his instinct, not caring about the world. This stems from him being an orphan. The only way he knows to survive is by stealing cars.
Ques: The look is whacky too.
Ranbir Kapoor: We wanted it to be Austin Powersish. Babli is also a big Bachchan fan so he has the same hairstyle. Abhinav (Kashyap, the director) asked me to grow my chest hair too, which my character plays with in the movie. He also adjusts his underwear all the time and mouths corny lines. What made it tough to play a sadak chaap is the fact that I’m a city boy. But it is indeed charming to watch such characters on screen, like Aamir Khan in Rangeela, or Bachchanji in Amar Akbar Anthony — they are fun characters with fun philosophies.
Ques: The film’s music has met with a mixed response. Can you comment?
Ranbir Kapoor: We are aware that not only the music but the overall response is more negative than positive. But I stand by the film and we hope that people will like it in its entirety. It reduces the expectations from a film, providing a chance to surprise the audience.
Ques: Most of your films have had good music. Is it consciously done?
Ranbir Kapoor: That could be because I’ve mostly done love stories where music plays a key role. Music has helped my career, but I don’t actively participate in its making. I’m aware that Shammi (Kapoor) uncle and other yesteryear stars did, but I don’t have the ear for it. For instance, both Ayan (Mukerji, director of YJHD) and I didn’t like Badtameez Dil but the producer, Karan Johar, predicted it would be a hit.
Ques: You’ve established yourself as a talented dancer. How is that?
Ranbir Kapoor: I’m not a great dancer – I have long, thin legs and feminine hands, which is sometimes detrimental to what I’m trying to do on screen. It’s always a joint effort — if ‘Badtameez Dil’ wasn’t a good song, no one would have noticed me dancing. But I’ve borrowed the tendency of enjoying performing to songs from my father. So when I can’t do a step well, I try to do it goofy. It’s my principle in life — at least it makes the audience smile, if not sigh.
Ques: But you make women sigh.
Ranbir Kapoor: Yes, my following largely comprises the female audience, which feels good. But it’s true I don’t have much of a male following.
Ques: Since Pallavi Sharda is a debutante, the audience will come to watch you in Besharam. Does that bring added pressure on you?
Ranbir Kapoor: It puts greater responsibility on the leading man when the female actor isn’t a known face, but I understand the importance of a leading lady. Getting people into the theatres for ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’ was easier because Deepika (Padukone) was there. Similarly, Priyanka Chopra was part of ‘Barfi!’ and Katrina Kaif in ‘Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani’ — they added to the film’s buzz. But casting isn’t my prerogative and I decide my films on the basis of the director, not the female actor.