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Arjun Kapoor: Please feel free to not like me, but at least give me a chance

On the release of his third film Gunday, Arjun Kapoor talks about his love for stylised films.

Ali Abbas Zafar, the director of Gunday describes Arjun as the “true manifestation of an Indian man — raw and rustic”. Ali Abbas Zafar, the director of Gunday describes Arjun as the “true manifestation of an Indian man — raw and rustic”.

On the release of his third film Gunday, Arjun Kapoor talks about his love for stylised films.

On the release of his third film Gunday, Arjun Kapoor talks about his love for stylised films, the disadvantage of being a producer’s son and not looking like “a clean-shaven actor”

Look for his name online and the first result the search engine throws up is “Arjun Kapoor fat”, with pictures released by the actor of his former 130 kg self. A lot has changed for Kapoor since then. He made a smashing debut with Ishaqzaade and now his rotund, baby face has given way to a stubble-sporting brooding persona. Ali Abbas Zafar, the director of Gunday describes him as the “true manifestation of an Indian man — raw and rustic”.

Gunday seems to have all the trappings of the ’70s action dramas films just like your last release Aurangzeb. What made you choose a film like Gunday?
Aurangzeb had all those old-school formulae coming together. It was a quintessential crime-drama with family at its centre, but without songs. It didn’t work because the audience found it too dry for our mainstream cinema. Gunday, on the other hand, appealed to the child in me. It’s the kind of movie I aspire to make if I ever direct — it’s not some incoherent, mindless, commercial type of a film but with genuine weaving of emotions and solid characters. Also, a film about brotherhood and intense friendship hasn’t come our way in years. Gunday invokes the era of Sholay and Kala Patthar but holds its own. It’s not just a ‘two-hero falling for the same girl’ type of film. A brotherhood binds them because they are refugees together and their angst against the system is justified.

What kind of cinema excites you?

I watch all kinds of films, but I have a soft spot for commercial, filmy movies. I like the 48 frames-per-second, the stylisation and highlighting of a moment. You are telling a story but there is a certain style to it. I love movies by Quentin Tarantino and Ridley Scott because they have a visual style. Gunday gave me a similar feeling of a larger-than-life canvas.

How do you choose your films?
My first film Ishaqzaade chose me. For Aurangzeb, I was excited at the prospect of doing a double role in my second film. Each film appeals to a different sensibility in me. If it’s taking me back to a comfort zone or repetition of some sort, I refrain from doing it because now is my time to do everything. We are young enough to not get slotted. There are interesting scripts around and we should look to play different characters.

You have a bunch of bright contemporaries who are gaining their own following. How does failure of films affect you?
You can’t control box-office collections. We are too young to be judged by our box-office successes anyway. Our films doing good business is not necessarily because of us per se, it’s because the films worked for the audience. You become a star over the years. Among my contemporaries only Ranbir Kapoor is a star. The idea is to work with the best directors, production houses and co-stars, which is what all of us are doing. I’m not jealous of my contemporaries. I want to make my own mark, and I have the confidence that I eventually will.

How do you prepare yourself for  a role? Are you the kind of actor who consciously draws from personal experiences?
When I emote for a particular scene, I don’t sit and try to revisit my personal experiences. However, I might be tapping into my personal bank of emotions by just connecting to the character and the script. During Gunday, my mother’s loss must have had a bearing on me, but I never felt a direct link to it while shooting for the film. To me, acting is cathartic. The idea is to be fluid enough to blend with the director’s vision. In a film like Gunday, impulse is your best friend because it requires that wholeheartedness. Both Ranveer (Singh) and I had our first day’s shoot for the film with Irrfan. It was the first time I was observing an actor and acting simultaneously. I had to make sure that I am able to elevate myself to stand up to him.

Do you feel extra pressure because you come from a film family — being Boney Kapoor’ son and Anil Kapoor’s nephew?
It doesn’t bother me because I don’t think a person sitting in Jodhpur or Bikaner cares whose son I am. They care about the entertainment they get in return for the Rs 300 they pay for a film ticket. For all the nepotism the industry is accused of, there are exceptions such as Shah Rukh Khan, Ranveer Singh, Sushant Singh Rajput, Ayushmann Khurrana and Sidharth Malhotra. I don’t feel any pressure but there is a section of media and audience that doesn’t even acknowledge you as an actor.
Please feel free to not to like me if you think my work isn’t good enough, but at least give me that chance. Don’t judge me because I am a Kapoor, or son of a producer. How do I react to it? Is that my fault? The other bias I have faced is that I don’t look like an actor. What the hell is the look of an actor? Are they supposed to be clean-shaven, chikna boys, all the time?

What are your forthcoming films?
Currently, I am shooting for Tevar in which I play a college-going kabaddi player and the adaptation of 2 States. There is also Finding Fanny Fernandes, a road trip movie with Deepika Padukone that releases in July.

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