When he was offered Om Shanti Om in 2006,Arjun Rampal was gripped by several fears. Will his over-the-top character work? Will the look suit him? And will he be able to play the bad guy,Mukesh Mehra,with conviction? However,the actor overcame his anxiety to do the film,which became a turning point in his career,fetching him prominent roles in films such as Rock On!! and Raajneeti. Now,I dont sign a film unless I feel the same kind of fear. It is my way of checking if the character being offered is challenging enough, says Rampal. This test,he adds,explains how he has landed roles as diverse as that of a dutiful cop and a troubled film star in the soon-to-release Chakravyuh and Heroine,respectively.
His second film with Prakash Jha after Raajneeti,Rampal says that his character in Chakravyuh is as layered as it is real. Adil Ali is an idealistic cop who has faith in the system and himself to bring about a change. He knows that people have been wronged and hence turned Naxalite rebels,but believes that the situation can be repaired, says Rampal of his character. In the process,he puts his marriage,relationship with superiors and his friendship with his friend Kabir,played by Abhay Deol,at stake. Adil sends Kabir to infiltrate the Naxalites. However,the two have a clash of ideologies soon. Everyone will be able to relate to this situation,where two friends clash over their points of view, he says.
However,in contrast with his character,Rampal has little faith in the system. While shooting for the film in villages at the edge of the Naxalite-dominated areas in Madhya Pradesh,the actor recounts the dismal conditions. I wasnt aware of how deep-rooted the problem was. People without any medical facilities,infrastructure or basic necessities,such as water. But Naxalites are hardly revolutionaries. Naxalism is an organised crime. he adds.
In Heroine,on the other hand,Rampals character is that of a film star. He asserts that Aryan Khanna,his character in the Madhur Bhandarkar film is as nuanced. Arjun is in a relationship with Kareenas character following a bad marriage. He is,therefore,not comfortable making it public,which makes their love story complicated, he says.
The effort to take up such diverse roles,says the model-turned-actor,is to avoid being typecast. One learns to make a better selection of films over the years. Ive realised that the most important factor is to offer an element of surprise. Om Shanti Om worked because the audience didnt expect to see me in a negative role,Rock On!! because my avtar as a musician was fresh. I will surprise the audience with these two films as well, he says.
At the same time,says the 39-year-old,the films he does have to be commercial and entertaining. Ill be doing Prakash Jhas next,Satyagraha. Sudhir Mishras Inkaar shows me battling sexual harassment charges at workplace and Nikhil Advanis tentatively titled D-Day is an action film, concludes Rampal.