Arjun Rampal is letting his feet down and relaxing at his spacious penthouse in the 21st floor in the suburbs when I meet him for this interview post success of Rajneeti which has garnered for him a lot of accolades for his sterling performance, as an astute politician. As his maid servant serves us hot steaming cup of coffee, Arjun tells me that right now that entire he is doing is to absorb the reactions of people who have seen his film.
“Who says that good films do not work at the box office? Rajneeti has definitely proved that a film which has a running time of 2.45 minutes and a story which is rooted to the earth and without songs can work universally. The brilliant performance of the entire cast is being spoken about. I feel that it is a huge step for the whole film industry”, quips Arjun.
Arjun continues. “For Rajneeti to perform so well at the box office is by itself a great thing. As I said earlier, Rajneeti proves that the audiences will accept it if you give them a good film. The best thing about Rajneeti is that it is being appreciated even in places where Bollywood is associated with a popcorn image. Can you believe it; I get messages like ankhiyan milaye Kabhi akhiyan churaye kya tune kiya jadu.”
Arjun feels that for an actor, the mantra should be that he should be honest with his work. “When you work from the heart and get into the skin of your character, you feel good when you are doing the character. You cannot afford to feel uneasy, because in that case, it automatically comes on the screen”.
Arjun is of the opinion that you lose your objectivity as an actor when you work on a film but tend to realize whether you have done right or wrong when you hear people talking about your performance and get a high. “If I have survived till date in the industry in spite of my share of flops and hits, it is because I never gave up my passion as well as love for my work”.
Arjun adds. “I have never ever given importance to either success or failure. They are like husband and wife, though I’d not say who the husband is and who the wife is. (Guffaws). Every failure brings you closer to life and makes you come to term with life in general. My idea has always been not to give up in life but learn to change if you want to grow.”
Arjun reiterates that the audiences are changing today in a big way, as the success of Rajneeti has proved. “I started my career by doing romantic roles and then switched over to action packed films but when I did a negative role in Om Shanti Om, the audiences accepted me wholeheartedly. I was accepted for my performance in a run of the mill commercial film like Houseful too. What I like about the audiences today know that the actors are playing the characters, unlike in the earlier era when the senior actors like Prem Chopra, Ranjeet etc were stereo typed in film after film in negative roles and with due respect to the senior actors, hey did an amazing job of getting stuck to their safe images.”
Arjun says that he is keen on doing films which are entertaining. “As an actor, I want to push the envelope and venture into newer territories to explore my capability as an actor. Even films like Om Shanti Om, Rock On and Rajneeti had a serious message unlike Houseful but were entertaining too and not boring dry and drab documentaries. I cannot see boring films.”
Would you believe it, Arjun Rampal was the first one to sign Rajneeti, though Prakash Jha is friendly to both Ajay Devgan and Nana Patekar. “I was the first to sign Rajneeti six years ago. Prakash Jha disappeared after signing me for six years to be a politician. It is my first film with him. I simply loved the character when he narrated the subject to me. To get the right and apt body language was very important for me, because for the first time I knew I would be seen wearing a kurta pajama and would not have any romantic song.”
Arjun started watching the DVDs of speeches by politicians both old and young, like Rahul Gandhi, Sanjay Gandhi, the Scindia family etc. “I knew that I had to take pauses while giving the speeches, because the speech had to permeate in the crowds and I had to give time for it to resonate among the audiences, through the loudspeakers.”
Not many are aware of the fact that Arjun hails from Jabalpur where he used to go during his summer vacations and hence his job was made easier when he shot there. “It is important for an actor not to isolate himself. I was quite scared initially when Prakash Jha narrated the subject but then if you are not sacred there will be no challenge for you as an actor. I did Rajneeti because of the scene with Shruti which was the most difficult. Very rarely, does an ctor get the opportunity to break out of his mould and get to do something which no one expects out of him. It does not matter that the censors chopped off the scene because Rajneeti wasn’t a film about that. Somewhere you have to sacrifice for the sake of the bigger picture. As long as the audience got the feel of the film from that scene of mine and Shruti, I am happy.”
The best compliment that I get from people is when they tell me that I did the role well because I knew several politicians. The truth is that I do not know even a single politician. One thing I am sure, if I fight the elections now, I am one hundred per cent that I will win them with a wide margin, though I do not owe allegiance to any political party.”
Arjun says that he is bored of playing safe roles. “As an actor, I do not want to get type cast because it will then mark the gradual decline of the actor in me. Thankfully I am getting different types of roles. I am cast in a positive role in Karan Johar’s film I Love You Maa, which is an official remake of Step Mom. I am cast in the film with both Kajol and Kareena Kapoor, who are power house performers. Any role isn’t just about negative or positive because there is good and bad in all of us. Thanks to the media, today the audiences know that you do not necessarily have to have an image. Besides Step Mom remake, I am also doing Shah Rukh Khan’s Ra. One. It is the most physically challenging role that I have ever played till date. It is a look- oriented role. It is an ambitious film which will remind you of the erstwhile super hero films.”
Arjun is all set to launch his next film as a producer though his maiden venture as a producer did not click at the box office. However he asserts that he has no plans to take up direction. “There are good directors and I want them to continue to do their job. By December, I will launch my film.”
It is very interesting to note that Arjun by his own admission does not like to see his film more than once. “I see my films once and make it a point to never see them again. I feel that you have to forget about your latest release and move on to your next film, once your film is released.”
We suppose Rajneeti is the only exception to the rule. May be Arjun Rampal is expecting an encore of the national award for his performance in Rajneeti after Rock On! What say Arjun?
- Sampurn Wire