I don't take success to my head or failure to my heart - Ranbir Kapoor | Exclusive Interview

Everybody loves Ranbir Kapoor, and every individual I have met has good things to say about him. Although I have interviewed several actors in the past, this was my first tete-a-tete with the Kapoor boy, who is back to rule the big screen with his big ticket venture, Bombay Velvet (which releases today), almost after one and a half years. The day we met, Kapoor had just landed back to Mumbai after a three-day long promotional activity in Goa. Despite the fact that the actor was hopping from one interview to another, answering a bevy of questions, posing for the camera and obliging every fan outside the hotel with an autograph; Kapoor looked calm and had a smile on his face throughout the day. "Its been a long day," he said, as he checked his phone, that had his own image as Johnny Balraj plastered on the case. "This will be available in the market very soon. Buy it and show it off, okay," joked Kapoor, as he settled down with a tall glass of ice cold Pepsi for a candid chat with Diary of a Dancebee.

Before starting the interview, he casually asked me about my website and said that I don't look like a journalist. "No, I am not one, really. I blog about a variety of topics, and exclusive film interviews is just one aspect of Diary of a Dancebee," I said, thinking that the actor might be too serious about this interview after my introduction. "Wow, that's fascinating and exciting for your age. Shoot your questions, I am all ears and excited for this," stated Kapoor, breaking the ice and assuring one thing - the interview will be great fun (which it was). Here's an up, close and personal conversation with the prince of Bollywood - Ranbir Kapoor.

Image Credit: GQ India
Ranbir, Bombay Velvet marks your return as the lead after a year and a half. How excited or anxious are you?
Ab toh humne kar diya (laughs), so being nervous or anxious won't help. But of course, it is a human thing. I am really happy that I have a film like Bombay Velvet in my filmography. I don't know if this film will do well. nor do I know if the people will accept or reject it, since it is a new genre. But I know the intention, hard work and honesty that went behind this film. 

How easy or difficult was it to get into the shoes of a character that is set in a different era?
Of course, it wasn't easy! Every character is different and difficult. But then, if you look at the minor details, how a person laughs today will be the same as a person who laughed way back in the 60s. A certain base comes from the world created by your director and then, with the way your characters perform. Certain nuances and things mentioned in the script also helped. Anurag was very sensitive towards the characters, a lot more than me. If you take out the physicality, the world and the surroundings, and just the character into consideration, there are a lot of people like Johnny Balraj in today's world as well. Its not like 60s ka waqt hain, toh sab slow motion main chalenge (smiles).That's the trickiness involved in a period film. People think its a period film, toh humein period acting karni padegi. Aisa kuch nahi hain. Udhar bhi log harami the, aaj bhi log harami hain (laughs).

How did you get attracted to the script of Bombay Velvet?
I have been lucky to work with the likes of Imtiaz Ali, Ayan Mukerji, Anurag Basu; some really good directors. So, I have always been burdened with the fact that I am working with a good director. As far as this script was concerned, I had honestly not seen any of Anurag Kashyap's films, but I had heard about him. So here, it was only on the basis of the character and script that I loved him. I have never done this in my life, but I myself called Anurag and asked him to consider me for this role.  It is very rare to come across stories that are as fascinating and exciting as that of Bombay Velvet. The world that Anurag was trying to create is one of a kind, especially for me. As an actor, I have done certain type of roles, and I know that if I try to break my image, it may not work and people may not accept me in roles where I undergo a drastic change. So, it was important for me to choose carefully and there was no one better than Anurag to experiment with, as he understands the space, grittyness, darkness and intensity of the character. 

People think its a period film, toh humein period acting karni padegi. Aisa kuch nahi hain. Udhar bhi log harami the, aaj bhi log harami hain

Did you get a chance to read Mumbai Fables by Gyan Prakash, the book on which the film is said to be based?
Fortunately, in this film, its just the world which is similar to the book. Be it the surroundings, or the politics and how areas like Nariman Point were up for grabs. But the story has nothing to do with it, especially the love story of Johnny and Rosie. Even the characters are not from the book. In fact, Anurag told me that you can read the book if you want, but its better if you stick to the script and world created by the writers, rather than the book.

You have worked with Karan Johar, the producer. But how was it working with Karan - your co-star?
Absolutely incredible! Karan Johar is such a phenomenon. Director, producer, talk show host, award show host, fashion designer, doodhwala (laughs), he has done everything. There is nothing that Karan Johar has left or hasn't mastered. Just the fact that the person he is and the way he would come on the set in his character, forgetting all the baggage and would approach his character honestly, was simply amazing. He plays the antagonist and to pitch Karan Johar as the villain of a film was impossible. His character is extremely dark, manipulative and manic. I think the genius was in just casting Karan, which none of us could imagine, except Anurag, who saw a mean streak in Karan. Karan was excited about the whole thing and he has done a damn good job! Personally, I look up to him as a mentor and in the film too, we share a similar relationship. And later, the mentor becomes a tormentor in the film. Thankfully, woh life mein nahin hua hain. He is still my mentor.

The film got delayed by some months. Did that frustrate you in anyway?
I was very frustrated, because I didn't have a release for more than 1 and a half years. My last film was Besharam and then of course, I did Roy, which also didn't work. But, the whole purpose for delay was to better the film. I think that intention is great, because if you are bettering the film, then you can delay it for two years also. It doesn't matter if the film took a year or two, what matters is that all the technical details are taken care of. In fact, they are the ones who are losing interest and money as a producer. But, they were fearless about it, as they knew that this is Anurag Kashyap's 8 year old labour of love and hence, they wanted the final result to be the very best.

Many feel that while Mumbai is a city, Bombay is a sentiment. Since the film is based in Bombay of the 60s, could you share your special connection with the city that you grew in, that was then called Bombay?
It was and will always be the city of dreams. Its a city that gives you immense opportunities, but is also the big bad world of everything. It can give you a lot and take away a lot from you as well. People get into this nasha of Mumbai and lose almost 10 years of their lives trying to find the right path. Personally, I have lived all my life in Bombay and I don't think I can live anywhere else. I am also very attached to the word 'Bombay' more than Mumbai. Not that I have anything against Mumbai and I definitely accept it. But, there was a nice quality to the word 'Bombay', an old world charm. Now that I got the opportunity to live the life of a Bombay citizen in the 50s-60s, in the world that Anurag created, it was just fascinating. I feel my grand father and father were extremely lucky to be present in that era and they grew seeing all that. So, I feel privileged that through Bombay Velvet, I got to experience that era.

 I have lived all my life in Bombay and I don't think I can live anywhere else. 
Image Credit: Ranbir Kapoor for Tag Heuer

You have worked with some of the finest actresses in the industry. Have there been any personal favorites, with whom you have enjoyed sharing the screen space?
Every actress is super good in what she is doing, and all of them have their own share of advantages, disadvantages. Today, there is tough competition and one can't really afford to highlight their weakness. There is no shortage of talent, and every actress is well prepared for the kind of roles they are accepting. Someone is beautiful, someone can dance well or maybe act very well. Personally, I have been really lucky that I got the chance to work with a good mix of big stars and newcomers, who have not just been good actresses, but have also been instrumental in my growth. In Bombay Velvet, I really enjoyed working with Anushka. She is one actress who comes without any trappings of being a star. She does a good job and at the same time, wants you to do a good job. That kind of grace is very much appreciated.

In hindsight, what do you think went wrong with Besharam?
As far as my last release, Besharam is concerned, I take full blame for it. I was being very arrogant and cocky with that film. It came after films like Rockstar, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani; so I thought, why not do a masala entertainer to increase my fan base? People know me in cities, but I wanted people in other parts of the country to know me. So, I followed a prototype of what Mr. Akshay Kumar or Mr. Salman Khan have done and thought, let me know try that genre. Honestly, its a very hard genre to work on. There is a lot that goes into making people like your film pan - India. Yes, I failed and felt shit about it. But then, I also learned that one cannot take the audience for granted. There is a certain way of working and I don't have that kind of a fan following. Nor do I have a body of work where people will blindly love me as a hero. I think I have to work myself to a point where people love me as a hero someday. I am still warming up with the audience. I don't think playing a larger than life hero goes with my personality. I think me playing the under-hero, someone who is trying, more than someone who is achieving, works well.

Was it a difficult phase for you?
Every phase in life teaches you something. My first film was a disaster. You live 23 years of your life and get excited about your first film, thinking arey meri pehli film toh superhit hogi, and I will have a huge fan base. But the reality is, it didn't do well. Also, because I have grown up in a film family, I have seen lots of ups and downs, mix of failure and success. So, I don't take success to my head or failure to my heart. Just to have a level headed approach at work and not getting swayed by all these things is very important.
I think I have to work myself to a point where people love me as a hero someday. I am still warming up with the audience.

Was there any point during that phase where you felt like answering back to the negativity that was being spread around by some media persons?
Not really. Interviews like the one we are part of right now always gives me the opportunity to answer questions. During Roy, I knew that my character was an extended cameo and my childhood friend was making that film. He said that if I play the part, he will get a good budget to make the film. I think that was wrong on my part, as I don't believe in mixing personal life with professional commitments. Also, I feel I should have worked a little hard on it. I thought it was a small role, so I can just come into it. So, I take full blame for that. There wasn't a deal which said that I should promote the film, because it was Arjun & Jacqueline's film all the way. So, we didn't want to mis-communicate anything to the audience. Also, I have nothing to clarify. I understand that I am not out there to save the world, nor am I a prime minister. I am just an actor. Earlier, I used to get bothered, but now I understand that this is show business and people will talk about you. Some are constantly after you to make your personal life a reality show. By clarifying, I will just be adding more to that. When one doesn't have any film coming out, people need some news about you. So, they speculate and come up with things. But its okay, I take everything with a pinch of salt. Its all a part and parcel of show business.

How critical are you about your own work?
Not just me! Every actor is critical about their work. No one likes themselves on screen. Every time you see yourself, you feel - Yaar, kuch kasar reh gayi. I could have done better, why am I looking like this or why am I saying dialogues like that. You always feel that way. But in the end, if the audience connects with you and the story, it is all that matters. Otherwise, when we watch a film and watch ourselves perform, we keep thinking - "Oh shit! Why did I do that." So, one must always be critical of their own work.

You have always maintained that you are a private person and would not like to come on a public, social media platform. But your Dad has become the most loved person on Twitter.
My father and I are two different people. I think Twitter and my father are made for each other (smiles). He likes to speak his mind, can be really funny and also controversial sometimes. People like all that and don't really prefer politically correct tweets. My father is a politically incorrect person and hence, people love his tweets. Personally, I feel that as an actor, one doesn't really get a freedom of speech on Twitter. There are multiple interpretations of everything that is tweeted. Toh ab kyun main yeh headache loon ki I'll tweet something, then call a press conference and clarify things. I have my own personal reservations, but I have nothing against Twitter.

Are you doing the Sanjay Dutt biopic?
I would love to, but honestly, biopic as a genre is very tough. You can't just wake up and say, I am doing a biopic. It has to entertaining and must highlight the best times of that person. It cannot be a propaganda film, where the person is just shown as a god. You have to show the perfect mix of good and grey sides of the person. Well, there are talks of a Sanjay Dutt biopic and another one is a Kishore Kumar biopic, but it is just an idea. Nothing has come on to a script level. But I think it will be very interesting to play a celebrated life like that of Sanjay Dutt or Kishore Kumar. Though nothing has moved forward, I would certainly love to work in a biopic. Mr. Hirani hasn't got in touch with me, and if at all we start work on the Sanjay Dutt biopic, it can only be after mid - 2016.
When one doesn't have any film coming out, people need some news about you. So, they speculate and come up with things. I take everything with a pinch of salt. Its all a part and parcel of show business.
-- By Priya Adivarekar --

The Dancebee

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Priya Adivarekar

Priya Adivarekar - Founder and Creative Director at Diary of a Dancebee. She is also a renowned Voice Actress and award winning artiste, with serious passion for dance. When not working round the clock, she can be seen reading, enjoying a movie-binge or listening to music.
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