Ranbir Kapoor, the crown prince to superstardom does some straight talking on great expectations, his starry ambitions, method acting and leading ladies. This meeting with Ranbir Kapoor at his Pali Hill residence has a sense of deja vu to it… fact is that Kapoor was declared a star soon after his debut and six films
later he’s given the industry no reason to change its opinion. Since the last time we spoke, his position as the emerging superstar has only gained strength. Be it cousin Kareena or trade pundits, everybody is in agreement that the youngest Kapoor, has the DNA of a superstar.
Last year, his films Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani and Wake Up Sid garnered impressive revenues while Rocket Singh Salesman Of The Year bagged critical acclaim. In 2010, Kapoor with a resounding hit in Raajneeti, touted as the biggest hit so far, has been catapulted far ahead of his contemporaries. Kapoor’s work diary is full—he has been pencilled in for Imtiaz Ali’s next film titled Rock Star, is part of Anurag Basu’s Silent and a biopic on Kishore Kumar perhaps later next year and is in talks with Mani Ratnam
for his next project. He’s also going to be part of Ayan Mukherjee’s next film.
His relationship with co-star Deepika Padukone is over and link-ups with co-stars are common but Kapoor’s ambitions go beyond the starry life. Acclaim, stardom and an opportunity to be part of good cinema—he’s happy at his good fortune but refuses to turn lazy for fear of losing it. And yet not afraid to mix it all up. A glimpse of what lies ahead.
Raajneeti, a gritty political drama has been the biggest hit this year…what made you agree to a film so different from your earlier films?
I had committed to Raajneeti at a time when Saawariya hadn’t released. Prakash Jha had given me the script and I liked it. I loved the character. Samar as a character works because he is integral to the story. I think the response that I have got is undeserving. I don’t think I milked the role as much as I should have. I could have contributed more to the character. The film contributed more to me than I did as an actor.
Like when I was dubbing, I realised, oh, ok this is what the scene meant. I was too new as an actor to understand the complexities of layers in characters. But now I am learning and life goes on…it’s another day of shoot.
What’s your approach to any film that you are a part of…You accompanied Imtiaz Ali to Delhi when he was looking around for locations…
As an actor, I treat the script as a Bible. The first part of preparation is the dirty, superficial stuff—the physical appearance – like for Samar, a side parting, linen clothes, spectacles to suggest an ordinariness, He’s not glamorous… He is not trying to make a statement. He has to fit in. That’s for the physical appearance. As far as the layers were concerned, Prakashji and I spoke a lot before we began shooting. And of course, it’s an organic process. It’s only after one or two scenes that you begin to feel the character. And then you take it a day at a time that’s how I approach a film so it’s not like I give it too much thought beforehand.
Every character say, Sid or Harpreet or Prem are from different worlds. The best way to get into the skin of the character is to get the brief from the directors or writers. They know the characters better than any of the actors so the more time you spend with them and absorb how they see the character but obviously, you play it the way you see it. But I have always fed from the directors. I can’t say I am a director’s actor, I don’t like the term, but spending time with the director, the costume designer, writer or set designer or cinematographer gets you the vibe of the movie, the world of the movie.
How does it feel to be on the wish list of almost every director both big and small?
I want to work with some people more than they want to work with me. It’s really flattering that I am getting to work with such good directors at an early time in my career but it’s not something that I take for granted. Big production houses wanted to work with me so to that extent, life has been easy but I just want to work harder and impress these directors with my talent. I believe that I am not here for five or six years. I want to be here for a long time. I want to share happy relationship with people and at the same time I want to be good at my work also. There are times when you can’t work with everybody-sometimes you don’t like the script or dates don’t match and sometimes you don’t like the vibe of the person..but whether it is an established director or a newcomer, if I like the script, I will go with it.
What’s Anjaana Anjaani, your second film this year, like?
Anjaana Anjaani is my second film with Siddharth Anand, a love story set in America..that’s as much as I can say. I wanted to do a fun love story in that space.
And what about Rock Star and other films that follow?
I start Rock Star now. It is tentatively titled Rock Star. I finally feel like it’s a script to which I can submit totally. I am very excited about working with Imtiaz. The character I play is a Jat boy from Delhi. It’s not about a guy who becomes a Rock Star though that is what he aspires to be. But it’s primarily a love story and Imtiaz, as we all know is a wonderful writer. For Rock Star,I am learning to play the guitar. I can’t say I am good at playing the guitar but when I play at least the audience will not get disconnected saying ‘oh, he’s playing badly.”
Silence is a film with Anurag Basu that I do next. It is again a film with Priyanka Chopra and another actress. It’s a romantic murder mystery.
The film on Kishore Kumar will be done sometime end of next year but it’s too early to talk about it as the script is not entirely ready. It’s just an idea at this point. Then of course I will work with Ayan again. I am in talks with Mr Mani Ratnam for his next film but nothing has been finalised yet.
Your films as a solo hero have opened well in the theatres-is that an indication of your growth as a star? Has it changed anything?
Honestly, I find it heartwarming that people come to watch my movies and appreciate my work. I feel I was as popular in my first film as now because all that matters is your family, your parents, close friends. This is constant. Everything else is related to the work you do. People are willing to put in more money in my movies. People coming to my house are also increasing. Everyday there are 20 to 30 people who come to my house and it feels great that your hardwork is being appreciated. So I never shy away from meeting people and accepting love that they are willing to give, at the same time you can’t take it for granted. If you get lazy, if you start taking your job for granted, all this will go away.
You belong to a family known for its contribution to Hindi cinema besides having given the industry some of its biggest stars, so do you measure up to their achievements?
I come from a certain family but I don’t want to rest on their laurels. I want to make a name of my own. The pressure and expectation hasn’t changed anything. I work with the same passion.
What about being part of a biopic on your grandfather?
I can’t even imagine a biopic on my grandfather. It will always be less than expected. I don’t think I will be able to meet expectations.
People’s whose lives you would like to see turned into biopics are?
Rakhi Sawant’s biopic would be interesting, as would be Shah Rukh Khan, Mr Bachchan’s biopic or my father Mr Rishi Kapoor’s—anybody who has a body of work that they are proud about. Actually my parents’ love story would be interesting too.
What must an actor such as you, do to grow?
It’s important to be intelligent, take in life as much as you can, gain as much exposure as possible. The more you take in, the more enriched you will be as a performer. Reading is very important as one is so cut off from the world. It exercises your mind as it propels you to imagine things and for an actor, that’s always good. And you have to be a good person and love the movies.
So what are the books that you are thumbing through?
Currently, I am reading Curt Kobain’s biography because I am doing a movie where there’s a character similar to him. I have read Agassi’s Open, Marlon Brando’s Songs My Mother Taught Me is always a classic as also Ingrid Bergman’s and Obama’s autobiography.. the second one. There are very few works of fiction that I have read or enjoyed. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time which was really good or The Kite Runner are the few works of fiction that I have read. I’d rather read about a person who has done something exceptional than a work of fiction because I am part of an imaginary world anyway. Scripts are fiction so this is my connect with reality.
You obviously are partial to achievers so what does achievement mean to you? Also what’s a bigger achievement -to be a star or an actor?
Achievement means to me a smile on my parents face, it means being happy and proud of the work I do.
You either want to be the biggest star or you want to be the biggest actor. The problem with me is that I want to be both. I don’t know what the difference is but I want to find a middle ground to bring the both together and be there.
I want to be the best of every superstar of our country. Everyone’s journey is different but the goals can be similar. How you want to be the biggest actor is up to you, the choices you make or the talent you have.
Your movies are watched out for even by actors who are your seniors in the industry…that must be daunting?
I am excited about the films Hrithik Roshan, Saif Ali Khan, Shah Rukh Khan are doing. I am still a fan of movies so it’s exciting. I am a fan of all these actors so I will never think of them as looking at my movies the same way and I hope it doesn’t hit me. I am quite cut off from all of this. I don’t take things for granted. What really matters to me is getting up every morning and going to work.
Between paranoia and self-assurance which is better for survival in the movies?
You cannot be too self assured or paranoid. You need to be a little self-assured, you need to be scared. I use these terms while approaching a movie but not on the Thursday before it releases because then it is pointless.
Reports also suggest that you refused a Dharma film that required you to act with Shah Rukh Khan. Comment.
I am not insecure as an actor. I just did Raajneeti with a cast of such great actors. First of all there was no offer from Karan Johar for a film with Shah Rukh so it’s totally false.
There has been talk of roping a younger star such as you or Shahid for the next Munnabhai so have you been approached for the role?
I can’t even dream of playing Mr Sanjay Dutt’s character in Munnabhai because he’s made that a cult film. It’s very difficult for any other actor to replace him. I don’t think Sanjay Dutt can be replaced in Munnabhai.
Any movie sequels that you would want to act in?
Dhoom 3 would be a cool film to be a part of. There is no other franchise because they all come with an actor who already has a stamp on the franchise. I have nothing against sequels but I don’t like remakes because a film has been made with a certain amount of integrity, passion and hard work and you cannot duplicate that. It means you are riding piggyback on that film. It’s an item which means you don’t have a story of your own to tell. So it’s very tricky to remake films and I am a little uncomfortable with that. For instance, Dev D is an adaptation of a book so that’s fine but I think it’s unfair to remake Amar Akbar Anthony or Sholay.
Do you harbour Hollywood dreams?
I don’t want to go to Hollywood and honestly if any film can go, it would have to be a desi film. Lagaan was as Indian as it could get-nobody was wearing DKNY sweaters nor was it shot on foreign locations— but it went to the Oscars. It was about men in dhotis. It was a period film, it was about our country so that’s what we have to make-a film that’s closer to our culture, our roots.
And you are also supposed to be partial to the ladies you work with, being linked to most of them…
Honestly, I am not a ladies’ man unlike what is perceived by the people. I think it’s all thanks to the movie Bachna Ae Haseenon that this perception about me has come about. And also that I was so open about my relationship. We kind of overspoke about each other so people have that impression of me. Today I am single but it’s not like I am a ladies’ man. I am very shy of women. I have had three relationships in my 27 years, which is quite a lot but that’s it. I have nothing to hide. In our society we don’t believe in dating -you are either in a relationship or you are not so the dating term has been bastardised by the media where they say that you were spotted with someone for dinner. Maybe it wasn’t a date, maybe it was work related. You are friends with a person that you are working with and just because you will get written about is a wrong reason to not hang out with that person. You have to live your life normally and be honest to your work.
Okay so the co-star you really like to hang out with?
I have worked with Katrina (Kaif) in two films and I really enjoyed working with her. She’s really good, level-headed, very successful yet she doesn’t let it go to her head. She is hard-working, loves the movies and is very intelligent so I have great conversations with her and we also share a great chemistry. She’s a really fun co-star to work with.
And romance to you would be?
A romantic candlelight dinner by the beach is not romantic anymore. I could just be having a conversation in the car or not having a conversation. Certain gestures like taking out a few seconds in an overpacked day could be more romantic that the superficial Hallmark card notions that we have been subjected to.
At the time I was doing Saawariya I had a roaring toothache and could not sleep so my girlfriend at the time put her hand below my jaw the whole night to help the pain go away and I thought that was really romantic and sweet.