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Arjun Rampal: I don't have a grudge against Shah Rukh Khan

Last updated on: August 21, 2013 18:48 IST

Arjun Rampal: I don't have a grudge against Shah Rukh Khan

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Sonil Dedhia in Mumbai

Sitting in his plush, sea-facing, duplex apartment in Mumbai's posh suburb of Bandra, Arjun Rampal looks suave in jeans and t-shirt. He doesn't look like the earthy characters he's been playing in his movies recently.

In a candid chat with Sonil Dedhia, Rampal talks about his new film Satyagraha, how he made his mark despite all the criticism and his relationship with his one-time close pal Shah Rukh Khan.

In the past couple of years, you have been appreciated for your performances. Do you think this appreciation has come very late for you?

Not at all.

When something good happens, you don’t question whether it’s late or not, you just savour it. The choices you make as an actor please some and don’t please others. I can’t please everybody all the time.

The kind of films I do today show the direction I want to move in.

I believe in surprising myself and if I manage to surprise my fans, I think that’s my biggest victory.


Image: Shah Rukh Khan and Arjun Rampal
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar

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'I have made a space for myself in the industry'

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How did you keep yourself going despite receiving constant criticism all those years?

When you are an outsider, it takes time to make your mark. You have to make up your own mind about what you want to do.

The films I have done in the last five years have shown people the kind of actor I am. I think everybody is unique and you must celebrate uniqueness.

I don’t think I do the kind of films many actors like to do. This is why I feel I have made a space for myself in the industry.

What have been your main achievements?

Winning a National Award for Rock On was a big landmark and great achievement for me. It is my proudest moment.

Doing a film like Raajneeti was another big landmark in my career. I think Inkar as well, a film that made people look at me differently.


Image: Arjun Rampal
Photographs: Arjun Rampal/Twitter

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'If Prakash Jha ever asks me to do him a favour, I will never say no'

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It is said that Prakash Jha specially wrote a role for you in Satyagraha.

No, it wasn’t like that. When Prakashji was scripting Satyagraha, he told me frankly that there is a role which isn’t very big but he would love me to do it.

I told him, ‘Even if you want me to come and say just two lines, I’ll come.’

When he finished scripting, the role became a full-fledged part. I guess Prakashji realised that this role is integral for the screenplay and the script.

Would you do a two-minute for any other director?

If Prakashji ever asks me to do him a favour, I will never say no. But it’s not like I will say two lines in anybody’s film. People work with me repeatedly because they like me.

People who come together, get along, they enjoy each other’s company. When some people work together, media terms it as ‘camps’. I don’t think there are any camps in the industry.


Image: Arjun Rampal in Satyagraha


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'I have made a space for myself in the industry'

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Your character in Satyagraha seems to be similar to your character in Raajneeti

(Interrupts) Uff! Please don’t say that. I did fear something like this would happen, that people would draw similarities between the two characters.

The two characters are completely different. I agree that both have a similar look of a young politician, but my character in Raajneeti was from a very rich political background. He was selfish and egoistic and hungry for power.

My character in Satyagraha comes from the grass roots level and he likes people. He understands corruption, makes fun of it himself and makes fun of government ripping off people. There aren’t any similarities.

Prakash Jha has been partial to Manoj Bajpayee and he has been very vocal about that. Does that make you insecure?

I thought you were going to say that! I am jealous now! (laughs).

No, I don’t get insecure. I am not an insecure actor. Manoj is a very fine actor. You don’t get insecure in a good project for you know what you and the other person have to do. You help each other out, you work as team players to get there.

It’s a big task to make a film work. If even one guy drops his performance the entire film drops. I think we are intelligent enough to understand that and help each other out.


Image: Arjun Rampal in Raajneeti


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'Mehr feels that D Day was my best film'

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Much has been written about your alleged fallout with Shah Rukh Khan. You didn’t attend his Eid party this year.

Shaad Ali's (director) party was arranged a day before. People should get their facts correct.

I would have loved to go to Shah Rukh's house but I was really stuck in work. My wife (Mehr Jesia) did go for it. I don’t hold any grudge against him or any other person in my life.

Talking about Mehr, do you discuss your work with her?

I don't discuss my work with her. So it is a surprise for her. She loves my work. She liked me in Rock On and Raajneeti. She also felt that D Day was my best film.


Image: Arjun Rampal and Mehr Jesia
Photographs: Mehr Jesia/Twitter

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'Men get sexier with age'

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Is 40 the new 20 in Bollywood?

I am not 40-plus, I’m only 40! (laughs).

Age doesn’t mean anything. It’s all in your head.

Men get sexier with age. They also get wiser and get experienced.

As long as you don’t go through mid-life crises where you are 40 and want to play an 18-year-old character on screen, I think you are okay. 


Image: Arjun Rampal


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