Sonil Dedhia in Mumbai
He is undoubtedly one of the most eligible bachelors in the country, but Ranbir Kapoor has something of a reputation of a Casanova and has been romantically linked to almost every female star in the film industry -- Deepika Padukone, Katrina Kaif, Nargis Fakri...
But the young actor, who is eagerly awaiting the release of his film Rockstar, says he has his feet firmly planted on the ground and when the time comes, will make the necessary commitment.
In a free-wheeling chat with Sonil Dedhia, Rockstar Ranbir talks about his film, the Kapoor legacy, and how he copes with the rumours of his various liaisons.
There is quite a contradiction in the character you play in the trailers. Was there something special that you did to prepare for it?
My character changes over a period of time due to certain circumstances in his life, which is always derived from his love story with Heer (played by Nargis Fakhri). He goes from being this immature college-going bum Janaradhan Jakhar, to being the iconic rock star Jordan. We have put in a lot of hard work with the character and with the look of the character. Not just the superficial physical appearance, but also his inner journey.
I have never known anyone like Janaradhan Jakhar -- a Jat boy from Pitampura in Delhi who in the beginning is a wannabe. I did a lot of preparation for this character. (Director) Imtiaz Ali and I went to Pitampura and stayed there with a Jat family and studied their mannerisms -- the way they talk, walk, converse with their family, how they eat, the kind of clothes they wear. We also went drinking and dancing with the family.
I had to do a lot of work to understand my role. When I become Jordan, I learnt to play the guitar and look like a rock star.
'The audience won't find Ranbir in Rockstar'
Imtiaz is a great filmmaker and beyond that, he is such a great person. I have a deep friendship and connect with him which was useful for the film. He has motivated and inspired all of us.
We did a lot to make this character look believable. The audience won't find Ranbir Kapoor, but they will surely be able to connect to my character and all the credit goes to Imtiaz for this.
The music is the soul of the film. Did you learn anything about it?
I had the opportunity to sit with A R Rahman for the music of the film. We flew to Chennai, to his studio, and it was such an enriching experience. As a person and an artist, it is so magical to see him work.
His passion, dedication, and spontaneity, and the way he works in solitude is just amazing. He is so simple and his approach to music is so pure.
'On the sets, Shammi Kapoor was still a young boy'
You are the last actor to share the silver screen with Shammi Kapoor...
It was our good fortune that we were making a film called Rockstar and we were privileged to have the original rockstar of Indian cinema and of our country, Shammi Kapoor, in the film.
Imtiaz and I tried really hard to get him on board for this film. He has a cameo but it is a very special one, in which he recognises the musical talent of my character, Janaradhan Jakhar and they share a special bond.
I remember, just a day before the shoot he told me 'my physical condition doesn't allow me to do much and I am really nervous whether I'll be able to remember the dialogues.' I told him not to worry and we would take good care of him. When I hung up the phone, I realised that it was Shammi Kapoor who was trying to get some confidence from me, a newcomer. You can see the humility in him.
On the sets, he was still that young boy who was nervous and anxious and was rehearsing his lines. He was flirting with the assistants and telling us instances of his early days. We are grateful that a man like him left us with so much of love and dignity for this film.
'I don't want to embarrass my parents'
You are often called a Casanova, a playboy. Does that bother you?
Not at all. I am here for the bigger picture. I know that the audience will like me for my films and the work that I do. An actor's life is attached to these frills. You can't focus too much on it. I can't stand up and contradict everything that is said against me.
I am here to make movies. I want to be India's biggest star and for that I need to really focus on my work. If I do good work, all this will be forgotten. But then, maybe I am not good at my job and that's the reason so much attention is paid to all this.
How do your parents react to this?
My parents have been very supportive and they know how much I love my work. They respect me and the little success that I have achieved so far. I don't want to embarrass my parents. There is a lot of respect that they command in this industry and I don't want to demean that.
I don't take my position for granted in this industry and they have never had any problems with all the rumours. They have never had any bitterness come between us or have voiced their concerns. They know that I am here for the right reason.
'I am being linked with Nargis because I am doing a film with her'
There's been talk about problems between Katrina Kaif and you. Any truth in it?
Katrina is a talented and successful actor and I have been lucky to work with her so early in my career. She is a great friend and I am looking forward to working with her again. Just because I am not working with her now, they have stopped linking me with her and have started linking me with someone else.
And that someone else is Nargis Fakri, your co-star in Rockstar. Rumours also say that you broke up with Katrina because of Nargis...
Yes, I am being linked with Nargis because I am doing a film with her. Just because I dine out and hang around with my co-actor means I am dating her. It is all rubbish. Our lives are not as interesting as it comes out in the newspapers every day. We work really hard and have to make a lot of sacrifices in our personal life.
Do these link-ups affect your working relationship?
We don't have affairs behind closed doors. There is a sense of commitment and a normal relationship that anyone wants to have. As I said, actors are also normal human beings. I am just 29 years old and have been honest with my work. If I am dating anyone I will say it. I have always been very frank about my relationships.
Let's set the record straight. Are you single?
Yes, I am single.
'My mother is very fond of Nargis'
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar
Your mother Neetu Kapoor is very close to Nargis...
Nargis came to this city when she didn't know anyone. She doesn't have any friends or family here and lives alone. My mother is very fond of her. They exercise together and exchange health secrets. My mother is very friendly in nature and she is close to all my friends.
Have you ever thought of marrying an actress?
I can't say anything about that because love can happen any time. It's just that chances of me marrying an actress are high because those are the people who I meet and interact with. Cinema is my world and that's one of the main reasons actors and actresses get married to each other. Usually, beyond films we don't have a real life. But, as they say in this industry, never say never. I won't just take the plunge for the sake of it.
You recently said that you had cheated in a relationship. When did this happen?
We all have moments of immaturity and sometimes can be naive in our relationships but I don't know when it happened. It so happens that sometimes we don't understand the meaning of commitment and how it will affect the other person. You cannot take your partner for granted when you are in a relationship and you learn this with experience. I did it out of carelessness but today I am very mature and value my relationships.
'If you are in a committed relationship, you have to be monogamous'
How difficult is it for an actor to have a love life?
It's as difficult as you want to make it. In life everything is hard and nothing happens magically or organically. One has to make some sacrifices and adjustments, and compromises. When you are in a relationship, you have to take out time even if you don't have it. It's like turning a 24-hour day into a 28-hour day.
You have been quoted as saying that you believe in physical monogamy...
If you are in a committed relationship, you have to be monogamous. Marriage in India is always looked up to and is given the highest regard in our society. Marriage expects that you have certain qualities like commitment and monogamy.
'Shammi Kapoor was afraid he might forget his dialogues'
Is Ranbir Kapoor a changed actor today?
I believe so. I have changed because of the people l have worked with. Right from my directors to my hair stylist, everyone has been instrumental in my growth. I really hope that the drive in me to excel never dies. I never want to feel content as that is one of the best motivating factors to grow.
Do you feel the pressure of the Kapoor mantle and taking it forward?
I don't have a chip on my shoulder but at the same time, I don't take it for granted. I know I have a responsibility. My family has been contributing to Indian cinema for 80 years now but if I have to carry it forward, then I have to carry it with my work. I cannot rest on the accolades my family has received over the years. After three-and-a-half years in the industry, I think I have got rid of the star-son tag. People recognise me for my work. I hope I can contribute to cinema as my family has done for so many years. I also hope my grandchildren be a part of movies (Smiles).
Any plans to revive the R K banner?
I have a burning desire to direct a movie. Currently I am very busy with acting and that's the reason I have not thought about making a movie. I want to make it when the story naturally comes out of me and I don't want to make it because people find it cool.
I also don't want to get into direction when people feel my career is in decline. I am passionate about it and want to make a movie I believe in. I have stories to tell but I haven't found the right story. It can happen in the next couple of years.
'Deepika and I have always been good friends'
You are doing a film with Deepika Padukone?
I'm looking forward to working with Deepika again. We have always been good friends. Ayan Mukherjee's film is a coming-of-age romance, which today's youth can easily relate to and I am really excited about the film.
Will you ever act with Kareena Kapoor?
Yes, why not. Kareena is such a fine talent and she has achieved so much. She is my first cousin and I cannot be romantically paired opposite her but I would love to do a film with her where we play different characters that are not related to each other or romantically linked. We can play brother and sister. If something comes up, I am open to it.
Who do you think is the sexiest actress in Bollywood?
I think everyone is sexy. Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone, Nargis Fakhri...they all are sexy.
You have to choose one.
I will be selfish as my last film is with Nargis, so I will have to say it is Nargis Fakhri.