A decade and 18 films later, actor Arjun Kapoor says he is now trying to “rechart” his personal and professional growth through his learnings in the industry by going back to his “core values”.
Arjun made his debut with 2012’s Ishaqzaade, which was a huge hit and set the stage for the young actor to deliver hits in romance drama 2 States and 1970s-set action film Gunday.
He followed this up with films such as Ki & Ka, Mubarakan and Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar, but there were also failures in Tevar, Namaste England and Panipat.
The pandemic finally gave the actor some time to pause and reflect on his journey in cinema. He said. “Ten years down the line, I’ve reset to thinking and feeling like I was in 2010-2011. That’s what I’ve used the last two years for, to go back to my core values, my core understanding of who I’m and what kind of work I would like to do,” the 36-year-old actor told PTI in an interview.
“I’m thinking like an audience and trying to deliver what I would like to watch as a viewer myself. I’ve gone back to my basics. I’m trying to rechart my personal and professional growth along the way through those learnings,” he added.
Arjun Kapoor, son of producers Boney Kapoor and Mona Kapoor, said he considers himself fortunate to have grown up in a film family. However, after being in the profession for a decade, he has realised that every individual’s journey is different. “During the highest of highs, you may be going through your lowest of lows. When I gave Ishaqzaade, I just lost mom,” he said referring to his mother’s death just months before the release of his Bollywood debut.
“I couldn’t even celebrate box office numbers of 2 States and Gunday because I was neck-deep in making more films at that point of time. I was hiding myself in work, meeting people, growing, imagining,” he recalled.
During the lockdown, the actor said he somewhat managed to keep his personal and professional aspects separate to have “perspective” in life. “The first five-seven years were just like a bullet train. I just kept going, saying yes to films,” he added.
Arjun, who is currently shooting for his 18th movie The Lady Killer in Manali, said while he doesn’t fret about the future, his aim is to ensure that his fans don’t feel cheated with his film choices or acting. “I kept going because I knew I’ve got a chance, I’ve got acceptance and I also kept getting good work. Maybe in the last two years I’ve been able to analyse my growth and understand it.” But somewhere between being occupied with work, the actor said he ended up ignoring his health and gained weight.
Calling himself a “realistic person”, Arjun said he was aware that he was “shortchanging” his audience with the way he was looking on screen. “I gained weight because of certain reasons while working continuously. When I got a pause, I thought these people, regardless, pay good money to come and watch my films, which might be half decent. But if I’m not looking the part, they have every right to criticise.” The praise he received for his performance in his last few films — Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar and Sardar Ka Grandson — motivated the actor to work on himself.
“I’ve had to be worthy of being on the big screen again. I want the respect of the audience in that point of view also. In the last two years, I decided to work on myself again. I don’t want to shortchange anybody who is paying money to come and watch my film. They might not be my fans, but I would like to convert them into my fans. And that starts from being worthy of being there on the screen. That’s the biggest change that has happened.”
As far as understanding the craft was concerned, Arjun believes he has figured out what “excites” him as a performer. “If I’m saying yes to something, I’ve to do it for the right reason and not just to keep myself busy. It should come from a deep-rooted place within, which is how I started my career.”
Years have flown by, but it feels “surreal”, the actor said, that he got the opportunity to face the camera, a dream he nurtured while growing up in his family, surrounded by the likes of his father and actors, uncles Anil Kapoor and Sanjay Kapoor.
He said, “I’ve got this chance to do so much work, meet so many people and interact with so many amazing individuals, go through the highs and lows and still feel the kind of love from the audience.” He believes luck has been in his favour, as he could make a mark without following the industry norms or success formulas.
“When I started, people were telling me to do action films, intense films. But I also wanted to do films like Ki & Ka and Half Girlfriend. I don’t like to be repetitive. I understand, you suit a certain kind of role, but 10 years down the line I didn’t want to feel that I’ve done only certain kinds of roles or films. As an actor also, it’s not a good feeling to go to a set with,” he said.
It’s impossible to grow as an artiste without taking risks, the actor asserted, adding that it’s unfortunate that most of the people in the industry were still “scared of failures”.
“We all want to be successful superstars perhaps, but at the end of the day you have to take chances as that’s the whole point of the profession.”
Arjun Kapoor has an exciting slate of movies coming up, including Mohit Suri’s Ek Villain Returns and Vishal Bhardwaj’s production “Kuttey”