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Arjun Rampal: I am not afraid

By Subhash K Jha
June 16, 2017 12:20 IST
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'I know my interpretation of Gawli will be judged.'
'I've earned the right to believe in myself,' Arjun Rampal tells Subhash K Jha.

Arjun Rampal is in the US to promote Daddy, which he produced and has acted in.

Daddy is a bio-pic on Arun Gawli, the Mumbai gangster.

IMAGE: Arjun Rampal in Daddy.

"I was in San Francisco at the Google headquarters where I released the trailer of my film," Arjun says, speaking to me from New York.

"There I was with the most important film of my career at the most vital communication centre in the world."

"The perceptions on Indian cinema are changing," he says. "Bollywood is no longer about songs and dances."

"In the West we were seen to be a people who burst into song on every occasion. That is no longer so."

"International moviegoers are willing to accept a darker reality in Indian cinema," Arjun adds.

"We don't have to sing and dance to get global attention."

IMAGE: A selfie in London. 'I love this city,' Arjun posts. Photograph: Kind courtesy Arjun Rampal/Instagram

"I am not even looking my best in Daddy," he says when I tell him that women the world over swoon over his looks.

"Gawli is not a conventionally good looking man. But he had tremendous magnetism. Though he was accused of several crimes he was an enormously popular figure in Mumbai's chawls, almost like a messiah," says Arjun.

"He was known as 'Daddy' by the public." Hence, the movie title.

Arjun assigned Ashim Ahluwalia to direct Daddy.

It is an unusual choice.

Aushim has directed only one film -- the critically acclaimed Miss Lovely.

"I got Aushim to direct because I wanted a certain international sensibility in the 'Mumbai of the 1990s' story," says Arjun. "I've worked really hard to get Gawli right.

"It is very important not only for my career, but because it tells us about a life that has far-reaching ramifications in the the way Mumbai has shaped up today."

Daddy is not the only bio-pic being shot these days.

Rajkumar Hirani is making a movie on Sanjay Dutt's life starring Ranbir Kapoor.

Nandita Das has just wrapped up shooting Manto, based on the life of the legendary Urdu writer Saadat Hassan Manto.

There is also a movie in the works on the late music mogul Gulshan Kumar, whose son Bhushan Kumar runs T-Series, the biggest music label in Bollywood.

IMAGE: Glimpses from the CRY America gala dinner in the San Francisco Bay Area.
'Siri this wonderful autistic girl stole my heart. Thank you all for coming for Child Rights.'
Photograph: Kind courtesy Arjun Rampal/Instagram

"I know my interpretation of Gawli will be closely monitored and judged," says Rampal. "But I am not afraid. I've earned the right to believe in myself."

"I hope my belief pays off."

Arjun will be in New York for a few more days.

"I had a CRY event to attend, which was very fulfilling. I will be doing something at the Apple store for Daddy," he says.

One thing is for sure. No tacky come-see-my-film shout-outs at malls for Daddy.

"After releasing the trailer at Google," says Arjun, "I have to keep the marketing momentum at a certain level."

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Subhash K Jha