Ram Kapoor: I am dying to do outrageous things
'I am chasing Boman. In five or 10 years, I want to be where Boman is. I want to have a successful career as a character actor for the next 25 years. I want people to respect me like they respect Sanjeev Kumar.'
Ram Kapoor, in an honest conversation.
“I am not embarrassed to do anything,” proclaims Ram Kapoor, who will be seen in this week’s release Humshakals.
So, we see the actor going all out in this slapstick comedy -- he dresses up like a girl, wears swimwear and plays a triple role in the film.
Directed by Sajid Khan, the film costars Saif Ali Khan, Riteish Deshmukh, Bipasha Basu, Esha Gupta and Tamannaah.
In a very candid interview, Ram Kapoor talks to Patcy N about his weight, his struggles and his next film with Sunny Leone.
Did director Sajid Khan have to convince you to do the bikini scene?
I was dying to do stuff like this. The minute Sajid told me, I sad “Done!”
I am very successful in television, but the drawback of television is that while it makes you a household name, and it gives you respect and money, you get stuck in the same role for years.
The more successful your show is the longer you have to play the same character.
As an artist your growth stops. The reason I am dying to do character work in films is because I can do so much variety.
I am dying to do different and outrageous things. In the last two years the films that I have done are very different.
I wanted to be an actor because I wanted to play different characters, now after 10-12 years of my career I am getting a change to do such outrageous stuff.
I am really lucky I am getting this variety.
I’ve known Saj (Sajid) for 20 years. We’ve been friends since college days. When I was in Los Angeles, Saj stayed with me for two weeks. We went to Vegas together and gambled.
I knew I was putting myself in the hands of a friend; if somebody new had come to me with the same thing, I might have to think about it.
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Image: Ram Kapoor in Humshakals
'I am in love with myself'
Are you embarrassed at what you have done in the film?
I am not embarrassed to do anything. If I was the kind of person who gets embarrassed easily, would I have been this fat and done the kind of work I have done?
There are lot of jokes on me.
Even in Bade Achche Lagte Hai (the television series), jokes are made related to my weight.
We always see actors trying to look their best; they want to present themselves in the best way. That is fine, that is important. But for the first time I got to show the real person, and the real person is fat and has problems.
The real person has insecurities. One of the reasons the show became popular was because the audience could relate to it, the character looked like them.
I am in love with myself; I am very okay with my faults.
You just said you are in love with yourself. Is that the reason you are romancing yourself in the movie?
The reason I am romancing myself is only because of Sajid Khan. Only he could come up with something like this. He thought it would be funny.
When I heard the script, I realised what the role demanded. I had a triple role in the film, it was a big film, plus in one of the scenes I had to dress like a woman!
I had already agreed to do the film but when I heard the script, it was like icing on the cake. There was so much variety in my role.
Image: Ram Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan and Riteish Deshmukh
'Sajid writes a mad film'
What was working with Saif and Riteish Deshmukh like?
I have worked with Saif before in Agent Vinod. He is a thorough gentleman, and he actually is the Chota Nawab.
He is classy in every way, whether he is working, drinking, or having a meal with you. He is class -- that’s the nicest part of Saif.
I met Riteish for the first time. I have new respect for his father, after getting to know Riteish; he has been brought up so well. He is perfect whether he is dealing with the producer, director or the spot boy of the film.
How did the three of you get the chemistry right?
Sajid writes a mad film. To get into that frame of mind, you have to become mad from day one.
We three discussed how we were going to do this and we decided that we have to give ourselves completely to Sajid.
The minute we did that, we were cracking jokes and having fun. That is only because of Sajid. He makes the set very lively, where non-stop humour is happening.
Image: Saif Ali Khan, Ram Kapoor and Riteish Deshmukh in Humshakals
'I have become very big in television, but I know I still can't dictate terms when I am signing a film'
You are such a popular face on television, why didn’t you choose a solo hero film?
I am a realistic person. I am aware I have become very big in television, but I know I still can’t dictate terms when I am signing a film.
It took me 10 years to reach where I am. I have done roles on television for Rs 1,500 per day. My journey has led to bigger things.
I was fully prepared to start at the bottom because I knew I may be the biggest name in television but that means nothing in cinema.
If I want only a certain kind of role and certain kind of money, I am cutting my film career short even before it starts.
I started with very small movies, where the budget for the film was Rs 2.5 crore and I was getting a pittance of Rs 5 lakh. But it has led to bigger projects.
For example, I did two scenes in Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu. A lot of my colleagues in television told me ‘Kya kar raha hai tu?’ (what are you doing?)
But I was very clear I wanted to get into Dharma (Productions) and through Dharma we wanted to get into Yash Raj (Films), and it happened.
Ek Main Aur Ek Tu got me Student of the Year, and that got me Mere Dad Ki Maruti and then Humshakals.
You said you are ready to give 10 years…isn’t that too long?
I want a career in films my entire life. I want to be an old man when I retire as a character actor.
If you see character actors, they hit the big time in their 40s and 50s, like Anupam Kher, Amrish Puri, Paresh Rawal, Boman Irani.
I am still young. I am very happy being a character actor in Bollywood. If I get lead work I won’t say no, but I have no such ambitions.
I know my assets and my weaknesses very well. Am I suitable for a lead? Hell no, except if it is a hatke (different) film. I am not hero material.
As a character actor, I fit into a space. I hope to achieve star character actor position like Boman Irani and Irrfan Khan.
I am chasing Boman. In five or 10 years I want to be where Boman is. I want to have a successful career as a character actor for the next 25 years.
I want people to respect me like they respect Sanjeev Kumar.
Image: Ram Kapoor, Sakshi Tanwar, Amrita Mukherjee in Bade Achhe Lagte Hain
'I am lucky to be called a relatable actor on TV'
Why do you thing audiences will not accept you as the hero?
Bollywood heroes are different from television heroes. People put on the TV in their own bedrooms to be able to see stuff that they can relate to.
In films, you go to the cinema and by a ticket to enter a dream world.
The heroes of TV and films are very different. I am lucky to be called a relatable actor on TV.
After Humshakals, I am doing a lead in a film. I don’t know how successful it will be. So I am taking a risk.
Nothing happened to your career after Hazaron Khwahishen Aisi…
I got good reviews from the critics.
The offers that came after that were not exciting. Some roles were big, but there was not even one scene where you can showcase yourself. That’s why I said no to a lot of work.
And that’s when I decided if only this kind of work is coming, let’s just stick to television, because in television phenomenal work was coming.
During Hazaron Khwahishen Aisi, I was fit. There was a phase when I had six packs abs and muscles but there were thousands like me who were trying to get into Bollywood. I was one of them.
Now, in my second innings, I am one of the top players on television.
Image: Ram Kapoor in Hazaron Khwahishen Aisi
'I have no problem laughing at myself'
Will you still do television?
I will never ever turn my back on television because that has given me a lot. I am a household name in the country because of TV. I got respect, fame money through TV.
If I get good roles in films, I will do them. The minute I feel I am not getting good roles, I will gladly go back to television.
I have signed a couple of films and I am tied up till next year April.
Now that you are getting movies because of your weight, are you happy?
I never really had problems with my weight. I am a trained method actor, and I rely on my training completely.
I am fully aware of my good and bad points and I am comfortable with it. I am not the kind of person, who is embarrassed easily. I have no problem laughing at myself or others laughing at my expense.
Image: Ram Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan and Riteish Deshmukh in Humshakals
'For my next three big movies, I have been told not to lose weight'
There are reports that you are losing weight.
Those reports have misconstrued what I said. I said I don’t necessarily want to lose weight, but I want to be healthier.
I am 40 now and I have two children. I don’t want to propagate that it’s okay to be unhealthy.
After Bade Achche became successful, people started saying it is fashionable to be fat. Some husbands said they didn’t want to work out as they want to be like Ram Kapoor. I don’t want to be the leader of that movement. That’s not good.
I am not losing weight but I am a lot healthier today than I was when I turned 40.
I’ve given up smoking. I use to smoke two packets a day for 15 years.
I have given up drinking -- I drink may be once in six months now.
I have given up eating at the wrong time. I have given up a lot of stuff that I would do. After turning 40, I have made very big changes in my life.
Today I don’t feel tired or breathless any more. I can easily do my action scenes. One year back, it was a problem.
Today I can run, I play tennis with my children. When we are on holiday I do all kinds of physical activity with them.
Are you willing to lose weight if the script demands it?
Absolutely, if it is something worthwhile. If a newcomer comes to me and says I need you to lose weight I will think about it and see what else I have in hand. It mustn’t harm my other projects.
Sajid Khan told me I can’t lose weight till I finish Humshakals. For my next three big movies, I have been told not to lose weight.
Image: Ram Kapoor
'My wife gave up her career to have my children and then has taken over the role so completely. '
What do you think of your act as a woman in the film?
I think I have the maximum shock value. While we were shooting in Mauritius, Genelia and Kareena were there and they all said they looked only at me because of the shock value.
When you see Riteish and Saif doing the woman act, it has been seen before, but when you see such a fat man doing it with confidence, it is a little more appealing.
What do your children and your wife think about your get-up as a woman in Humshakals, plus your weight issues?
My wife and children are super-thrilled. They are waiting for the film to release.
My children are young. For them, their father is everything. They are at the stage where their father can do no wrong, so I can’t comment on them.
If my wife (Gautami) had not supported me so whole-heartedly, I could not have achieved this. She gave up her career to have my children and then has taken over the role so completely.
Image: Ram Kapoor with wife Gautami, daughter Sia and son Aks
Photographs: Ram Kapoor/Twitter
'Lots of Indian men are obsessed with people like Sunny Leone'
You are doing a film with Sunny Leone…
Yes. It was the most hilarious script I had received.
Ram Kapoor and Sunny Leone together is such an odd couple for any film. Everybody who has heard about the combination has been shocked. That is the reaction we want and we are already getting it.
Sunny is a darling. She is so professional and hardworking and the best part is she told me she is dying to make a mark in Bollywood no matter how long it takes.
She is super excited about the project, she is dying to work with me, she wants to do respectable stuff, and wants to work with good actors.
I did not expect this from Sunny. I am actually exited about the project after meeting her. If your co-star wants to do a good job and become better, it makes your work so much easier.
So sexy Sunny will not be sexy in Patel Rap.
She will be very sexy in Patel Rap. I can’t talk about the whole concept, but I will give you a one liner: I play Patel, who is a very respected and rich Indian based in Malaysia. He has a secret kink -- he is obsessed with Sunny Leone, the star. Nobody knows this.
Whenever he is alone, he watches her videos. One day she comes to Malaysia for a project and enters his life and all hell breaks loose. I can’t tell more.
Sunny Leone has quite a bold image. Were you nervous?
No. When you read the script, you will realise it is not bad material.
Yes, she is very sexy because she is playing herself with all that sex appeal.
I can tell you that lots of Indian men are obsessed with people like Sunny Leone. Nobody talks about it, but it is very real.
I am doing this project because it’s something people can relate to. Whether they accept it or not, they will think this happens.
It is a very clean film, it’s a family entertainer, my children can go and watch it.
I will never do a project that my children couldn’t watch. Yes, my kids couldn’t see Lakshmi (a film on human trafficking and prostitution) but that was a film with a social message. But Patel Rap they can see.
Image: Sunny Leone and Ram Kapoor
Photographs: Ram Kapoor/Twitter