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Arjun Kapoor: I'm glad I have stepped out on my own

Last updated on: April 30, 2012 15:25 IST

Arjun Kapoor: I'm glad I have stepped out on my own

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Patcy N in Mumbai
Producer Boney Kapoor's son Arjun Kapoor is going through one of the most delicate phases of his life. His mother Mona Kapoor lost the battle with cancer in March, and two months later, his first Hindi film will be released, launching his acting career.

But you wouldn't know of the personal crisis in his life at the media interaction for the film.

Arjun looked quite relaxed, as he gave joint interviews with his Ishaqzaade co-star Parineeti Chopra, taking cigarette breaks after each interview.

Directed by Habib Faisal, the Yash Raj film is looking like a promising summer blockbuster.

In this joint interview with Patcy N, Arjun and Parineeti spoke about how they worked together.

How did the transformation from being a producer who wanted to direct a film, to an actor in front of the camera, happen?

Arjun: I was an assistant director and wanted to be a director very seriously. The transition happened when I was an assistant on a Salman Khan movie. He saw something in me and spoke to me about seriously pursuing acting.

I laughed at the suggestion because I was obese and weighed 140 kg, but he told me that if I don't try it, I will regret it.

I went with his belief. After losing weight, I got a certain level of confidence that I can, and then acting classes happened.

Then I met Shanoo through Facebook, who is casting director for Yash Raj Films. I auditioned for a Yash Raj film and got the role.

Image: A scene from Ishaqzaade


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'I never ever wanted to be an actress'

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Parineeti, you joined Yash Raj's public relations thinking this will be your stepping stone to become an actress...

Parineeti: I never ever wanted to be an actress; I wanted to be a banker. I am from a business family.

My cousin (Priyanka Chopra) is an actress and I would tell her I don't understand what you do and in fact, I don't like what you do.

I wanted to be an investment banker so I went to England to study. After I graduated, the recession hit and I wasn't getting a job. So I came to India and worked with Yash Raj on a six-month internship.

Once I started my job, I loved what actors did. I loved acting and I was lucky a person called Manish Sharma (director of Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl) came into my life because he thought I could act and he gave me the role of Dimple Chadda.

What did you like about acting, the glamour part or the acting part?
 
Parineeti: I am glad you asked this question because it is very easy to look in from the outside and pass a judgement. That's what I myself did till the time I understood what acting was all about.

I used to think that they look good and they just say three dialogues in the film and they earn so much money...why are they so famous when they hardly have to work?

But when I did the PR job I worked closely with them and realised and understood what went on through the day. My respect for the profession increased. If I had not come to Yash Raj, I would never have understood what actors did and I would never have fallen in love with the profession.

Image: A scene from Ishaqzaade


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'I had never met Aditya Chopra in my life, we only met after the audition'

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When Shanoo called you, did she know that you were Boney Kapoor's son?
 
Arjun: She realised it later. When she met me on the first day, during our conversation I happened to tell her that I hail from the film industry and I have been working as assistant, and that's when she realised that I am Boney Kapoor's son.
 
So being from a filmi background didn't help you much?
 
Arjun: How much can it help you eventually? You need to be talented. I love the profession so I pursued it at a very genuine level.
 
You need to know the craft; being somebody's son can help you get respect for being their son --people are nice, they come up and meet you...
 
I had never met Aditya Chopra in my life, we only met after the audition, so from day one when I entered YRF it was because of my hard work.  
 
I am glad that I have stepped out on my own. My father is proud of me that I have done something in his field on my own. I think that is a tribute to the surname but I am trying to carve out a niche for myself.

Image: A scene from Ishaqzaade


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'If you don't have talent, regardless of whether your surname is Kapoor you will have to go home'

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When you thought of becoming an actress, Parineeti, why didn't you think of approaching Priyanka, who could have recommended you?

Arjun: (intervening) People don't understand that it is a business; people will only take you if you are worth it.

Parineeti: It doesn't matter if I am Priyanka Chopra's sister; it doesn't matter if he is Boney uncle's son. If we were both terrible actors, nobody would take us.  Why should anyone put so much money in a film for a person who is not worth it?

I am not saying that I am the best actress in the world, but I had to prove something to be signed on by such a big production house. The only help we will get being from a film family is the confidence that you have when you enter.

I am sure if I fail tomorrow, or if I am about to make a mistake, Priyanka will be there to stop me and take care of me but it doesn't mean that she will call producers and ask them to give me a film.
 
When I got Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl she said I am happy for you, if you need anything I am there for you.

I am sure it is the same for Arjun. Just because you are born into a filmi family that doesn't mean Boney uncle was waiting kab Arjun athara saal ka ho jayega aur main usse char film de doonga (when will Arjun turn 18 so I can give him four films).

Arjun: It is the journey that is the fun of it. You got to live it to know it. You get work on the basis of your first film. Ek picture ke baad ghar ja kar sona padega (after the first movie you may have to go home and sleep) if you don't have talent, regardless of whether your surname is Kapoor or not.

Image: A scene from Ishaqzaade


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'On the first day of the shoot, I was a nervous wreck'

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What was it like facing the camera for the first time?

Arjun: No matter how much you prepare, that first day, that first shot, is always going to be unique.

I thought after rehearsing for six months it would be easy for me, but on the first day of the shoot, I was a nervous wreck.

I just wanted the first day of the shoot to be edited and deleted and shoved somewhere. I thought iske baad mujhe ghaar jaana padega, meri daal nahi gal ne wali hai (I will have to go home).

Parineeti: But he is very good in that scene which he is talking about.

Which is the scene for which you have given the most takes?

Parineeti: I had a scene in which I was wearing a sharara which was very heavy –it weighed almost 10 -15 kilos—and I had to get down from a moving jeep and fire a gun.

It wasn't a difficult scene to do, but logistically and technically it was hard to do. You have to do it at the correct time when the camera is on you, plus there were two more people in the jeep. So in such a case it doesn't mean that I don't know how to act; it is just that technically it is not possible sometimes.

Image: A scene from Ishaqzaade

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'My biggest fear is failure'

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Your biggest fear as an actor?

Arjun: Failure. That's what makes you strive harder.

Parineeti: Same here.

The one scene you would be most terrified of doing?

Arjun: Never say never -- you don't know what you might end up liking.
 
Your strengths and weaknesses as an actor?

Parineeti: My strength is that I am not influenced by anybody. I am not a movie buff so whatever I do comes from my heart or whatever calculation I do in my mind.

What are my weaknesses, Arjun?

Arjun: I think you rationalise everybody; sometimes it could be impulsive.
 
What about you Arjun?

Arjun: This is my first film, so I will realise that after this film. I just know that I need to be focused because I tend to be slightly laid back in life. I guess that's my weakness.

Parineeti: Apne strengths bhi batao. Should I tell your strengths?

Arjun: Yes.

Parineeti: I have to learn this strength from him. It is that he is an actor but he never looks at a scene with the actor's point of view. Because he always wanted to direct, it come from there, he looks at the bigger picture that is the film. He thinks how this one line that he is delivering will affect the film.

Image: A scene from Ishaqzaade

Tags: Arjun

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'It was a physically demanding film'

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Three things that first come to your mind when you think about the release of the film?
 
Arjun: Relief, that finally our hard work is out there; excitement, that people who know you and don't know you will now get a chance to see your work; the beginning (of a career)
 
Parineeti: A lot of excitement because I have been waiting for this film to come out for too long, And curiosity. I want to see if what I believe, and the whole team at YRF believes, comes true or not.
 
Three things that challenged you about this role?
 
Parineeti: The physicality of it. I didn't look like Zoya.
 
Arjun: The body language.
 
Parineeti: The energy of the role. It required 100 percent in each and every take. It was a physically demanding film. You had to be very fit to do the role, not because we had to look hot but the role demanded we be very strong.
 
Also, there was the responsibility of being the lead characters of the film. We had to work together to make our characters look better.

Image: A scene from Ishaqzaade

Tags: YRF , Zoya

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'In the prep, Parineeti and I would not get along'

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Will the urban youth relate to the characters you play?
 
Parineeti: Arjun is an urban boy in real life and I am a small town girl (from Ambala, Punjab). If we both loved the script equally, then urban and so-called rural India will both like it, we hope.
 
I heard you say that you didn't get along at the start of the shoot. Why was that?
 
Parineeti: Our personalities are very different. I am a very enthusiastic person and he is a very quiet guy. The first impression was very intimidating -- he probably thought she talks too much, and I thought he was really quiet.
 
Arjun: I had spent a certain amount of time preparing. When she came in, I was so prepared I was ready to go on shoot, but she had to go through the same process that I did, and needed time to prepare for the role. I would think, Yeh kitna baat karti hai, kitna discussion karti hai (how much she talks and discusses)
 
Parineeti: I would think, Kya kadoos aadmi hai bilkul baat he nahi karta (he's such a grouch, he doesn't talk at all).
 
Arjun: So in the prep we would not get along, but later we became good friends.
 
Just like your characters in Ishaqzaade...
 
Arjun: Pretty much, yeah.
 
What next? Falling in love?
 
(Both laugh)
 
Arjun: That's why it is called reel life and not real life. Isme zameen aasman ka farak hota hai (the difference is between sky and earth).

Image: A scene from Ishaqzaade

Tags: Ambala , India , Punjab

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'It is a huge pressure on dad if he is launching his son, so it has to be a bloody good film'

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Didn't you think of going to your dad and asking him to launch you?
 
Arjun: Like going and saying 'Papa mere liye picture bana do' (Papa, make a picture for me)?
 
We spoke about it obviously and I am looking forward to working with him in our production house. I am dying for that opportunity to arise, but that's the future plan.
 
This is a business; you can't just wake up one day and start making a film. It has to be the right film, made with the right people, with the right budget.
 
Eventually, it is his responsibility and pressure on himself if he is launching his son, so it has to be a bloody good film. We were looking for the right material and in the meantime this came up. Which father is going to say no to a Yash Raj film?

Image: A scene from Ishaqzaade

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'I was 140 kilos so I had to change everything to be like this'

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How did you lose that weight?
 
Arjun: I stopped breathing (laughs).
 
It was a process, a journey, a change of lifestyle. It is very difficult to sum it up in a few sentences.
 
It started with getting out of the fear of going inside a gym and standing in front of all those people who were lifting weights. You got to just break through that in the first two months and do it continuously. I was 140 kilos so I had to change everything
 
Parineeti: I was also overweight; in fact, that's why we became friends because we both love food. I was 85 kilos, I was really huge. I'm still trying to lose more weight. That was one of the most challenging things, to be strong.

Image: A scene from Ishaqzaade

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