Chasing Ranbir Kapoor these days is more difficult than chasing your ex-girlfriend. It took me 48 hours, 10 text messages and close to a dozen phone calls to finally share our common passion – nespresso, in his personally designed new vanity van filled with some of his favorite movies. Then of course, there are those famous FC Barcelona flip-flops neatly kept under his hair and make up trolley and ‘The King of Oil’ – Secret Lives of Marc Rich by Daniel Ammann kept on his side table for his leisure read. To give him company, his mini fridge is stacked up with Diet Pepsi and for those lazy hours, his Rockstar coffee mug stands gracefully for that sip of nostalgia. You don’t need a reason to know why you like Ranbir Kapoor, but here’s a really petty one: He’s one of those actors who carries his ‘don’t-give-a-damn’ attitude, stuff their life to the brim and carry it off like it’s a fleck of dust on their shoulder. He works constantly. Always has. Then he tells me, “I spend more time in my vanity than at home”, and after ordering my nespresso, he continues, “Out of the five days we celebrate Ganesh puja at home, I was there only for 2 days and I had to miss our RK Studio Ganesh visarjan too.” And in the midst of all this, he reckons that everything is fine. It’s hard to imagine Ranbir on a movie junket, where stars are installed in a suite and journalists queue to question them for a maximum of around eleven minutes or so, timed by a PR with a stopwatch. But the truth is – The man is surreal. He’ll always give you more than you’ve ever wanted – be it his time in person or his performance in movies. Sure, there’s the affable, charming young actor whose name crops up every now and then – the one you’ve come to know in the gossip pages, at a near by pub with friends, at family gatherings or at some girl’s bachelorette party. And then there’s this other guy, the one I know. The one who’s a little more shy yet a bit Besharam. He’s much more interesting. I call him our National Treasure.
Presenting you Part 1 of our special interview with Ranbir Kapoor.
The way your vanity is designed, it must be inspiring.
To be honest, I spend more time in my vanity than at home. Instead of having those boring white walls in the vanity, I decided to make some art and retro posters of some of my favourite movies. There is this artist in the U.S who does retro designs of big films. I told the art designer of Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Amrita, and she did the rest.
You crossed all Besharmi by dropping your towel in your debut film. So now how do you associate Ranbir being a Besharam and yet being so rooted after being tagged now as the superstar to look forward to?
(Laughs) Yes, I did drop it, didn’t I? I think I am in a great space in my life right now. I love my life, I love the work I do, the people I am associated with and whatever happens with it – be it my gossips and link ups, it’s a part and parcel of the fame and glamour that comes along. All our lives we as actors wait to be written about and spoken about and when we are finally being spoken about and written about we hate it. It’s not something that I hate. Media isn’t besharam. They are just doing their job. I am extremely grateful to them for where I am today. I believe in being rooted and that’s what I was taught by my parents. As for superstar, I will be a bit besharam and say I will be the best one day.
Every actor has this psychology that they want to do movies to earn money and fame and then there is that one movie they do because their heart tells them to do so. What was Besharam slotted in?
Every film that I do, I do it from the heart. God has been kind. Lot of people want to work with me, lots of scripts have come to me and I try and filter in and do the best that I can connect with – be it a director or a script. When Abhinav Kashyap came to me with the script of Besharam, I liked the simplicity of it. I liked his approach because he didn’t want to give any moralistic classes to the audience. He wanted to make a masala entertainer. At the same time the character was very vulgar, repulsive, somebody who you do mind having around, but through the course of the film you will get along with him. And yes, this word Besharam isn’t associated to removing your clothes and bad mouthing anybody. Besharam is attitude. It’s like listening to what your heart says and nothing else and being besharam about it. I liked the entire world that he created in Dabangg and wanted to work with him since then. So yes, all these facets drew me to take my hearty decision and saying yes to the role.
Was there a sense of nostalgia while you were working with your parents in one frame because years ago in Shree 420 and in a few more movies like Kal Aaj Aur Kal, etc we did see a son sharing screen space with his father and grandfather…
You know, I’ve always wanted to work with my father in a movie. I’ve been a big fan of his. But thankfully and fortunately, we all have our individual personalities and choices. So when Besharam script came to me, I was the first one to be cast in it. But the writer wrote the cop role keeping in mind my father. I was hoping that the role would fall in his lap. I don’t think my father will do a film because I am in it. He loved the script, the space and his character. Then one day when Abhinav came home, he told me that it will make more sense and fun if Chulbul Chautala (Dad) had a wife called Bulbul Chautala (Mom). My mother also loved the script and her role. So yes, we all came together in one film thanks to the merit of the script and the vision of Abhinav Kashyap. We didn’t come as a family package. I truly believe that my mother is a surprise package of this film. You know my mother’s personality. I mean, she’s playing one cunning and corrupt cop that it really doesn’t go with how she is in real life (laughs). To pull that with so much sincerity and with that comic touch is commendable. My parents’ dynamics is the most interesting part of Besharam.
Do you at all get taken aback as an artist / performer, when you see Rishi Kapoor or Neetu Kapoor act so effortlessly?
It’s so strange because when I was working with my father and I would see him act in front of me, I was like – He isn’t doing much. It doesn’t seem like he is putting in too much of effort. But he puts in so much effort in his mind to look effortless. But when I see it on screen, it makes so much sense. He is a gifted actor. For me, it was a great learning experience. We young actors come with a baggage of notions that acting is this, that etc, and sometimes even intellectualize it. For my dad, it’s just about being spontaneous, straight from the heart and being passionate. This morning when we were having breakfast together and leaving in our individual cars for promotion of Besharam, I could see he was ten times more excited than I was, inspite of working for forty years. That shows on screen. I respect his dedication and that’s a great learning curve for me.
Is Ranbir Kapoor consumed by movies?
Yes I am consumed by movies. I breathe movies. But I am also a fan of movies. I can see myself out of movies and inside the movies too. I have grown up watching all kinds of cinema and not just Hindi movies. I watch a lot of foreign language films too besides watching Hollywood movies. And of course, a bit of regional cinema. If you ask me, I am living in Disneyland right now. I am surrounded by movies. I love this place. I am getting paid for something that I am having fun with. I really feel blessed and lucky doing this job as a hired actor.
How do you balance a Barfi with a Besharam?
I am not charting out or maping my career in that sense. Whatever comes to me, whatever appeals to me, whichever directors I connect with or I like. The fact that the director is trying to say something, I connect to it. I didn’t think that I did Barfi and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, so right now I should also do a Besharam. All of this is happening by chance and my instincts. I didn’t do Barfi because I thought it was an art film. I did it because I felt it was a commercial film that doesn’t get made every year. It probably didn’t have avenues to release on a larger scale. There is more interest in Besharam because the trade thinks it’s more appealing to a larger number of audiences. The difference is from a producers approach. My approach to every character or a film offered to me is not that this film is art or a commercial film. I see films as films, characters as characters and I think Babli in Besharam is as exciting as Bunny from Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani.
I recall you telling me in your car before the release of Barfi – “I too want to be a part of the 100 crore club”. Look where you are now. Has all this made you a better businessman too?
No. Not at all and I hope it never does. I get to know the numbers from my colleagues working in the industry and a few trade analysts. But honestly, I am the same post Saawariya. When Saawariya was a big disaster and when Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani was a big hit, I think the feeling has still been the same. The fact that I am still doing movies! 100 crores for me is that more people are watching my movies now than they were before, which is a great sign. It motivates me more and inspires me. I don’t have expectations from Besharam. It may do 10 crores, 100 crores or 150 crores. If you make a good film with good intentions and an engaging one, every film will do well. You have to be honest to what you are making.
There’s this thing about Ranbir Kapoor – Out in the open, there’s a cheeky little kid aspect to him. That sense of fun and adventure is something I find appealing. At home, he is the shy type but always respectful to his guests and friends, attending each one of them. Now you really stop to ponder on the question – What really makes him a Besharam? The answer is his approach towards his movies, the desperation to be called the new superstar and his will to survive, come what may, never to be pulled down. For once you want to believe that Ranbir must’ve signed Besharam for his personal life would’ve spiralled out of control and his soaring professional career was in danger of imploding. Kidding! Ranbir has proved himself to be someone unique – he has managed to excavate the sensitive soul that lurks beneath a swaggering arrogance, both on and off the screen. This Kapoor lad only buys commitment. Here’s how – his background – his own history, is way more important than what he can achieve as a professional. Mother is an actress, Grandfather was an actor, director and a producer, Father is an actor, Grandfather’s father was an actor, Uncles are actors, Cousin sisters are actors. Ranbir’s seen all this and all that you can imagine in an actor’s life. So he doesn’t buy success. He doesn’t buy failure. He only buys commitment. That commitment as of now is Besharam.
You are in a league of your own Ranbir. But when you work with newcomers or actors one film old, do they sense of you over-powering them?
I don’t think I overpower my co-stars. With Pallavi Sharda and Amitosh Nagpal, both have a lot of experience in theatre and have faced the camera before. They are far more enthusiastic than one can imagine. They give more. They add more to the scene. They might not have the stardom that I have, but in a working relationship there is no stardom. It’s only two actors working on a scene trying to make certain words on paper come alive. Stardom doesn’t count there. What counts is your talent, your intelligence and your hardwork. I’ve worked with so many new girls – Nargis, Ileana, Shazahn, Sonam and now Pallavi. They are as hard working as Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra or Katrina Kaif. I hope Pallavi and Amitosh get the stardom and become established stars in the business and I’d love to work with both of them again.
You’ve worked with the Kashyap Bros. Bifurcate them please!
I’ve worked with both the brothers. But the comparison is startling. Abhinav Kashyap likes to make happy, light hearted and entertaining films. Anurag Kashyap likes to make movies that are too personal to him – things that probably he wants to say or something to do with his personal angst. Abhinav’s heroes are larger than life whereas Anurag’s heroes are more in the world of the film that he’s making. Abhinav’s heroes sing songs and Anurag’s heroes have to be content with background score (laughs). But at the heart of it, both are very honest to their job. They don’t take it for granted and are very hard working. An actor like me wants to work with good directors because they make me a better and a bigger star. I am thankful to their parents to giving birth to both the boys.
Your house must be lying with scripts stacked one over the other. How do you manage to select the best one from the lot?
Fortunately or unfortunately, since the last two years and the next two years to come, I am working with the same directors, apart from Abhinav and Anurag. I am working with Ayan, Imtiaz and Anurag Basu in their next movies. These are people I have had a successful working relationship with. Yes, I do want to work with new talent. When I worked with Ayan in Wake Up Sid, it was a very refreshing change. Unfortunately, I am not able to listen to any scripts right now and once I finish the run of these films, after a year and a half, I would love to work with new directors, new writers who get in new ideas.
Age no bar! But you are producing movies now. When do we see you turn producer for R.K. Films?
My grandfather directed, acted and produced films when he was 21 years old. So there is no age bar for me to produce or not to produce movies. I am already 30 and I am producing a film with Anurag Basu called Jagga Jasoos. I have realised that I don’t know if I really want to make films under our R.K. Films banner. It’s synonymous with Raj Kapoor. It’s his banner and his creation. I can’t live up to his vision. I want to collaborate with directors as a producer and hence producing a movie with Anurag Basu. We are equal partners in it. It’s called ‘Picture Shuru’. If I want to produce films with Ayan Mukerji, I will probably call it something else. I don’t believe in this fact that I need to rekindle the R.K. Films banner. R.K Films is right up there in the ‘Greats of Indian Cinema’ and I wouldn’t like to touch it or spoil it or take advantage of it. If I do something, I will create something of my own so that if my children are working in movies, they don’t have to have anyone’s shadow. Raj Kapoor is too big a name to have a shadow.
Why stay aloof from the social media? Your fans adore you. You should visit this world once.
I know my fans want me on Twitter and Facebook but I wish I could. I want to connect to them personally. I want to connect with them through my movies that I do. I am a bit too shy and don’t know what to say. I’m not politically or socially aware to speak things. The mystery of an actor dies I feel if I am too social. Throughout the course of my career, I would like to connect with my fans by the movies I act in, and hopefully in the future, direct. Twitter can always dis-balance an actor. If I have 1000 followers out of which 800 love me and 200 hate me. But I may not get a reality check on things. I might tend to believe them straight up. I think it’s better to stay away from it as you are not affected by it and concentrate on my work.
What would be that one scene you’d remember Besharam for?
There was a scene where I had to tie up my father and mouth such explicit words like – ‘gendey, motey, etc’. I had to tickle him, gag him and do lots of banter. My father was so encouraging. He really enjoyed the scene. When the director called ‘action’ we went into our character more than our relationship. It’s the best scene of mine.
Do you transfer yourself in a character more mentally than physically?
The roles I’ve done so far are coming of age, internalizing boys. Barfi and Rockstar were the only two films that required a lot of physical and mental change in me. Besharam is larger than life and such films are very hard for me to do. I come from a certain generation of actors who’ve grown up on more realistic movies and certain genre of movies. To do a Besharam you need to have a lot of self-confidence and self-belief. Playing a hero comes with a lot of difficulty for me. I am happy playing the underdog but Besharam is loud and over the top and mouthing corny lines. As far as physicality is concerned, YJHD was me, Rockstar and Barfi as I mentioned before had lots of physical attributes. When I do Jagga Jasoos, I play a twelfth standard boy from school. I’m playing a 17 year old boy. So I have to undergo a lot of physical change there.