'We are talking about history, about things that transpired.'
'If we don't know our history, we will never be able to evolve as individuals.'
Arjun Rampal's latest film Nail Polish has created an impact with its fast paced, intriguing, plot.
The actor plays a defence lawyer tasked with the job of defending Manav Kaul's Veer Singh, who is accused of killing 38 migrant children.
It's not easy making movies in these COVID times, and he tells Rediff.com Contributor Sameena Razzaq just why it is: "The responsibilities on actors are greater than anybody else. They have to keep themselves quarantined at home when there are shoots, not go to different places, not interact, not go to social places..."
The title Nail Polish is curious. What is the connection between a murder trial and nail paint?
I think when there is something suspicious going on, you want to cover it up and what better disguise to use than nail polish?
I was very intrigued when Director 'Bugs' Bhargava Krishna told me that I would like to do this courtroom drama and it's titled Nail Polish.
I was like why would you title a courtroom drama Nail Polish?
He said just read the script and tell me what you think.
When I read the script, I was blown away. It's such a detailed, beautifully created screenplay with fantastic characters.
The justification of Nail Polish is so beautifully defined that I think that people should find out the way I found it out when I read the script.
Hopefully, that's how it translates in the film.
You are defending a man accused of murdering 38 migrant children. As a defence lawyer, it will be an ethical dilemma for you to be pitted against your conscience.
That's the whole thing with law.
When you are a lawyer or a doctor, it's a similar dilemma. Say, a person, who is a killer, meets with an accident. Is he not entitled to go to a hospital and get treatment?
Similarly, until not proven guilty, everyone is innocent.
Even though theatres have opened, why is a film like Nail Polish having a digital release?
The theatres still have not opened in full capacity.
I think ZEE5, as a platform, has been extremely brave under the circumstances.
Two of the main actors (of Nail Polish) -- Anand Tiwari and Manav Kaul -- got COVID, but still, they did not pull the plug on the film and had the courage to make it.
Now that it is done, it deserves to be premiered on ZEE5.
They took that leap of faith with the film and I do hope it pays off for them.
Yes, I would have loved to see this movie on the big screen.
This film would have done extremely well if it would have got a theatrical release because the content is such.
It must have been challenging to shoot when Manav and Anand both tested positive for COVID?
We didn't shoot.
We had to stop the shoot for three weeks.
All of us went into quarantine the minute they tested positive.
We had to follow really high levels of hygiene and sanitisation and maintain social distancing.
Actors are the most vulnerable on a set because we can't wear masks. We are totally exposed on that level.
I have a one year old kid at home, so it was extremely nerve-wracking for me because I was in very close contact with them.
I had to quarantine myself at home for two weeks and keep getting tested to see if I got it or not.
We lost a lot of our locations.
We had to rebuild a complete set again and ZEE5 stood by that.
When Manav and Anand came back, we went back on to the shoot and finished it. After that, luckily, nobody contracted anything.
Right after that, I went into another film called Penthouse. I finished that film smoothly, with nobody getting infected.
How difficult is shooting during COVID times?
Actors cannot be wearing a mask, as I said, or stand six feet apart from each other in every scene.
It's not possible to do that and so the responsibilities on actors are greater than anybody else.
They have to keep themselves quarantined at home when there are shoots, not go to different places, not interact, not go to social places...
Suppose if I went for dinner or a party right after pack up, and somebody had COVID there, if I catch it and bring it on to the set, I will jeopardise the whole shoot.
So we have to take that responsibility ourselves to make sure that we leave the set, go home, quarantine ourselves, wake up in the morning, go back to the set, and do that consistently.
Nail Polish is the kind of work you would love to put out there. Is this the best phase of your career?
Oh, I don't know about that.
It's definitely a good film.
Phases of careers and all of that, I would say, depend on the kind of work you are doing and the choices you are making.
Yes, there are certain scripts which I am very excited about, like Penthouse, Nail Polish, The Battle of Bhima Koregaon and a couple of films that will be announced soon.
Penthouse marks Abbas-Mustan's debut in the digital space.
I have always wanted to work with them.
I had two film offers with them earlier in my career, but they didn't work out. Finally, we collaborated on Penthouse.
These guys are great and in top form.
I also got to collaborate with my dear friend Bobby (Deol) and reunite with him after many years.
While talking about The Battle of Bhima Koregaon, you cited the example of the Holocaust, comparing Dalits with the Jews.
We will speak about this film when we come to it.
We are talking about history, about things that transpired. If we don't know our history, we will never be able to evolve as individuals.
This movie is not done from a political manner.
It's not here to hurt people's sentiments or put a particular person down.
When movies are made on the Holocaust, it is not to bring down the Germans.
Today, the Germans are the most open and liberal people in the world. And the kindest people.
They have changed their imagery.
They have changed all that and World War II isn't that far behind.
We are talking about 1818 (The Battle of Bhima Koregaon).
It was a time where things were very, very, different.
We also talk about the time of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj where he believed in Swaraj, where there was no caste, no race, no colour, no class... everybody was a Maratha, and how things changed after that, how certain sects were exploited.
I don't do movies to form a political angle.
I thought it was a very interesting story.
It's a story which I was totally unaware of and it enriched me as an individual.
Be it your looks in films or the photoshoot you recently did, every time you put out pictures, it makes Instagram look hot. We wonder who your new stylist is. :)
Wait I will tell her (Gabriella Demetriades)!
I think Gabriella has a great eye in terms of fashion.
She has a great knowledge of fashion.
She knows all brands, even if it's a small one or upcoming, or recycled stuff or vintage.
She's obsessed with fashion.
She works with the frame of a person's body.
She is a dream to have with me, when I do a photoshoot.
I am like, what do you want and she is like, don't worry, I will pick up something.
She will mostly pick it up from my own wardrobe and I won't even know it existed there. And she will put it together in a different way.
She brings out the best in you, doesn't she?
I hope I do the same for her.
We saw you jamming with your son Arik. Are you a musician deep down?
Music is my life.
I am not great, but I can play a few chords here and there.