'Actors would go to acting schools. Today, they go to the gym first.'
'What has the body got to do with acting?'
'What's the use of flexing muscles if you can't manage the muscles of your face?'
Rishi Kapoor hates giving interviews.
The actor, who has a hair-trigger temper, has a long day ahead with the media, to promote 102 Not Out.
Dressed in a blue t-shirt and jeans, Kapoor sips hot tea to calm himself as he gives back-to-back interviews.
As he sits for the next interview, he seems to be in the mood as he chats for almost an hour! From working with Amitabh Bachchan, hectic promotions, his journey as an actor to his son Ranbir's film Sanju, Rishi Kapoor talks about it all.
Urvi Parikh listens in.
Do you think age is just a number?
I am 65 and have no qualms about it.
I am enjoying this period of my life and I don't think it can be any better than this.
I am getting to do some great work.
Amitabh Bachchan is 102 in the movie. For his character, age is just a number. He wants to live longer and keep boring things away from him.
But the biggest bore in his life is his son!
The movie has a social message as well, but I cannot share it until you watch the film.
How do you get into the nuances of the character?
I am made that way, it just happens.
I am fond of acting.
People ask me why I don't direct films. Because there is no time.
I am so busy acting. I have so much work to do and so many characters to play. I am enjoying that.
Was the process of getting into the look for 102 Not Out tiring?
I try to have different looks.
When I did Kapoor & Sons, I had a prosthetic look.
It would take me six-and-a-half hours daily for 20, 25 days. For me, it was a 14-hour shift.
I did it because I am passionate about acting.
Otherwise, I am a very restless person. I can barely sit in one place for five minutes.
The creative mind is restless. So for me, it was a process of excitement.
As far as this film is concerned, we did not use much prosthetics.
In Kapoor & Sons, I had to look funny because everyone was fighting. I had to look cute like a doll.
In this movie, I have just worn a bald wig.
I have an interesting character. He is boring, depressing and a khadoos!
How was it working with Umesh Shukla for the second time after All Is Well?
He is very patient. I didn't see him get bullied by Mr Bachchan or me.
It needs guts to be stubborn with an actor of Mr Bachchan's calibre.
Mr Bachchan, being a disciplined actor, listened to him. I am not a disciplined actor.
Did you watch the play on which 102 Not Out is based?
I wanted to watch it, but it wasn't playing anywhere nearby.
While doing 102 Not Out, how much did you draw from your equation with your father?
In acting, the basic tool is observation.
Whenever you see, something you store it in your head and when you come across a character that reminds you of that instance, you incorporate it.
I am like that because I am not a method actor. I have been told that I don't have any style.
Johnny Lever once told me we can imitate everyone, but you.
When I asked him why, he replied, Rishi Kapoor doesn't have a style while other actors do.
I am a spontaneous actor. But that doesn't mean I am deriding other schools of acting.
You have become selective with your films.
I don't want to do films where I am the father to an actor or actress. I am too expensive for that.
I want to play a character; it should be gratifying.
Also, I need to look different in movies. There should be no Rishi Kapoor (in the characters).
In 102 Not Out, I have sung a song too. The song, Badumba, is only for promotions. It is not in the movie.
How was it working with Amitabh Bachchan?
He is a pleasure to work with. He is a disciplined actor. I am a student of cinema, learning from juniors and seniors.
I understood some more this time, as I worked with him after 27 years.
Both of us have grown as actors.
Mr Bachchan flirts with his characters and gets into them. I told him this is what I learnt from him.
He is modest. It is a delight to work with him.
Which is your favourite film with Amitabh Bachchan?
Amar Akbar Anthony. The movie is welcomed by audiences even today. It is like a Charlie Chaplin movie that is loved by everyone.
I get nostalgic when I watch it.
Amitabh Bachchan and you are the only actors among the senior generation to be getting such roles. What has made you more willing to experiment?
Nobody gave me a villainous role back then.
But yes, we are doing different types of roles. Maybe this is why the audience likes us.
We haven't stagnated and we don't look stale. We are fresh in the minds of the audience.
Are you happy with the kind of work you are getting now?
I did not get such work in those days. Audience expectations then were different.
Now, things have changed.
Time has changed.
In those days, the audience was very forgiving. Every actor, working till the 1990s, had at least three films on the theme of lost and found.
Woh bachpan main kho jaate the aur phir end main villain ko maar kar mil jaate the (They would get separated in their childhood, and in the end, they would kill the villain and reunite).
Either this, or the film would have a rich boy-poor girl story or vice versa.
I have done this all my life.
The different films were made by Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Gulzarsaab, and they were done by other actors. I wasn't offered that kind of cinema.
Now, because the audience's horizon has become bigger and with the exposure that the youth has, things have changed. There is Netflix, Amazon, television, multiplex theatres and many more choices.
So you have to live up to the expectations of the audience.
The sensibilities of the multiplex-going audience is not the same as a rickshawallah's. If they are spending Rs 300, Rs 400 on a ticket, they will expect entertainment. Here, the audience is educated, and they expect better content, technology and services.
The single screen audience only wants maar-dhaad and songs, vulgar stuff. For instance, Ranbir's Barfi! will not work in single screens.
Since audience has changed, their choices are different. Actors of my age have changed and we are still getting work because of this.
Otherwise, earlier, an actor had to retire after 40 because Hindi cinema was predominantly for the youth./p>
Vidya Balan's The Dirty Picture wouldn't have worked in those times.
Has it become difficult for actors to survive since the audience needs fresh content every time?
Why is it difficult? You should work hard.
Only if you are a good actor, you will survive. If you are mediocre, you will be washed away.
Initially, actors would go to the acting schools. Today, they go to the gym first.
What has body got to do with acting?
What has learning horse riding or sword fighting got to do with acting?
First, learn acting at least!
What's the use of flexing muscles if you cannot manage the muscles of your face?
The first thing they learn is to remove their shirt. We need to deride this.
Did Amitabh Bachchan ever remove his shirt? He looked lanky when he did Amar Akbar Anthony.
The problem is that one person does it and it becomes a trend.
I won't name the actor, but he started this process of promotions by going to every show and media house and now, everyone is doing it.
What do you think about film promotions?
How much money and time is wasted!
It is so expensive!
Also, do you think the audience is stupid? The content has to be good, only then it will work.
Promotions cannot help if the content is bad.
I am reminded of an incident. When Mr Shashi Kapoor was given the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke at Prithvi Theatre, Amitabh Bachchan was talking to me and he inquired about Ranbir.
I told him he was busy with promotions. That's when Ranbir just walked in.
Mr Bachchan asked him what took him so long and he said he was busy with the promotions of Bombay Velvet.
Amitji said that one of his films, Piku, had released. They did not have the budget, so no promotions were done.
First day, not many people came. But the next day, it was on fire.
What he was saying is that the content has to be strong.
What happened to Bombay Velvet? It was a washout. No one came for the first show also.
Later, I told Ranbir that what Amitji said was right.
Promotions don't help a film run. And the cost of promotions is also recovered from the movie.
Just because one person did it and the trick worked doesn't mean it will work for everyone.
What did Sonu Ki Tooti Frooti (Sonu Ki Titu Ki Sweety) draw on the first day? It grew later.
Promotions don't get in the audiences.
I did a movie with Ranbir called Besharam. The first day, it made Rs 21 crore. The next day, it bombed.
How do you explain that? Someone has to break these shackles. Content is king.
What did you think about Ranbir's Sanju teaser?
Good, yaar! Why will I not like it?
I have seen the boy working day and night. He would take six weeks to look different for each of the looks.
He starved, worked out, grew his hair... to get it right.
I was only scared that it doesn't become like a caricature. I was very concerned.
But when you have (Rajkumar) Hirani as a director, you don't need to worry.
He is treading on a sharp edge. I just hope it does well.