Interview By: HASTI DOSHI
Arjun caught our eyes right from his debut in ‘Ishaqzade’ and we still have an eye on him. Gradually we have seen his various avatars – from action to romance and now comedy. He plays a double role in his latest film ‘Mubarakan’. It indeed must be a treat for the audience to watch Anil Kapoor and Arjun Kapoor the Chacha–Bhatijajodi on screen. Excerpts-
You have earlier played double role in ‘Aurangzeb’, what were the challenges you faced this time in ‘Mubarakan’ and were they different?
In ‘Aurangzeb’ I faced myself only once in the course of the entire film. I don’t really have any conversation with myself; there is just one moment where we face ourselves in pre climax. I had to build two characters but had to shoot them in isolations, so when I was Ajay I was never Vishal. I didn’t have to switch between them in same scene. So there were different dynamics in terms of everyday shooting, preparations were similar that I had to build two characters from scratch. Ajay and Vishal didn’t have to interact with each other and normally if you are playing double role there is a relation you are establishing but they didn’t have any. Over here it had a very evident dynamic written into the material that Karan and Charan are with each other and I share lot of screen time with myself. So the challenge in this film I have to say is that it is far more superior in terms of being able to retain your character through the madness of switching between Karan and Charan every couple of hours. I had to switch three to four times in a day and do the same material as I have to do the same scene both the time in different roles. The complexity is far more in terms of shooting but that was the charm and excitement also inherently when I read the material and I heard it and I was excited to do that. I imagine that how can I talk to myself but when I started shooting I enjoyed it and it was tiring but the result is in front of you and when you see it on big screen it actually feels that there are actually two separate people.
How much fun was it to be working with Anil Kapoor as an artist as well as your Chachu?
With no co- actor you are so professional and you have an equation which you built with anybody you work with and I already had a pre-existing equation with him for 32 years. See Iwas very clear when I became an actor that the excitement of working with Anil Kapoor was part of my wish list, I did want to work with him and I have admired him while growing up and I am inspired by him. For whatever its worth I have always known how amazing he is as a person and as an actor, so the excitement was double that I want to work with him, but I was very clear that I want to be worthy for sharing the screen space with him. I didn’t want that Chachu should do a film with me, I wanted it organically where material comes that lends itself to us being in same frame together. He called me when he heard the script and he thought I am the best choice for the film and then when I heard it I felt that confidence that, Anees and Anil Chachuwere the master of this genre which makes me believe in my abilities any which ways. I have read somewhere that,Anil Kapoor wants to share screen space with me, that itself is bigger that any award I get in life. The day I stood with him on sets I felt proud of what I have achieved to reach that stage that I can stand in frame with him being an actor and not just a chacha bhatija reason being there.
Was that a downside that you both have an equation so was there a thing of being too comfortable?
Actually no, you don’t become Anil Kapoor without being very good about your work. When the camera is rolling we forget all the relations we share and focus on our work. And we are free about telling each other where we go wrong in scenes and I have done that. The entire dynamic in the film is that Charan feels that Chachu is genius and Karan feels opposite. So in the entire film one says, kitne humble hain, and other says, kitne jumble hai (smiles). So I don’t think that ever became a problem as the characters are well defined, you have a director like Anees and this is not kind of a film where you need to be awkward as it’s a family entertainer. So in all it was a fun journey for us.
Switching between Karan and Charan would be difficult for you, so how tiring was it along with keeping in mind that you should also have good comic time?
It is very difficult for me to explain to you how I did it. I used to come early morning before anyone else and sit with Anees sir, cameraman, VFX guys and we used to go through the scenes where I used to perform both the parts of Karan and Charan. Then the choice is made which one will be shot first, so the active one was chosen who overlaps most of the scenes and characters, so basically one who is moving more or in foreground is shot first. Then I had to teach Balli who was the writer as I need someone to say other character’s lines to me to make it feel real, so made him run through the lines exactly how it was supposed to be while overlapping the lines and all to sustain comedy. When we all were in the scene along with Balli as my other character we used to have a motion camera from points A to B for 3 seconds and B to C for a number of seconds and in this entire thing we had to perform and be comfortable that there is actually Karan along with me, so that it goes with the flow. All had to be in sync with Charan’s timing which Balli plays and later I will have to, there were lot of technicalities like we had a tennis ball put up for our eye balls and understand where to look around and if that goes wrong we had to shoot the entire scene again which is too tiring. Also the audio and visual are synced so I had to hear myself again and again which gets weird and say lines of Charan in my way after listening Balli’s. Due to again and again listening of Balli’s voice who is just a reference voice it’s difficult to bring out my own way of saying it along with that keeping in mind where do I have to look and match it up. What I just explained was just one shot so yes it was difficult and tiring at the same time keeping in mind my comic timings.
Your last three releases were very different – how easy or difficult is it for an actor or performer to switch from one to the other in terms of mental space to approach a new idea with a new scenario in your mind?
Here our schedules were so jam-packed that the amount of homework that I would like to do I feel sometimes I don’t get it. I did take that time off for Brothers just purely to take care of the physical aspect of it which then is never the end result that you want. But as far as the preparation is concerned, the directors always come first. The first seating is always with them jamming and all of us workshop now and did our scenes before. The easy way I find is getting into the physicality of the character. Like Ek Villain was the first time where I had to bulk up or try a tattoo on my body or scar and have two different hairstyles and color also – which were very subtle things and was never like screaming out. People didn’t recognize me in Brothers for the first time when they saw me in beard and buzzed hair. For Kapoor and Sons I let go all of that and you can see nothing physically appealing about this character. He is a very regular guy who would not go to the gym and be obsessed about bodybuilding. So for me it’s always the physical thing and the rest follows. If I don’t feel like my character in the film then I feel it’s wrong. Just imagine if I threaten my brother when I’m really big and muscular in Kapoor and Sons then the scenes lose its charm and it doesn’t look like a house anymore. It will look like I’m a big boy in the house overpowering my parents. So it appears like you are not really into the world of it.
From Karan and Charan which is the character you relate the most?
There is bit of me in both I would be lying but that’s not because of any intentional thing, it’s just that when you meet them in the film you will realize I have overlap of both as any person has both qualities of being sweet and naughty. Charan is sweet, sincere and diligent which I believe even I am whereas Karan is Street smart and learned how to figure things out and never gives up and also talks a lot like me. So I relate to both characters in a unique way but I can’t pin point and say which one is me, they both have enough about me.
Do you take back the characters after you are done with the films, do they still stay inside you?
It was quite strange what happened after ‘Half –Girlfriend’ as I got used to talking in Hindi and I had a tuff time to switch to English when I went into shooting ‘Mubarakan’. Organically it used to become pure Hindi, so that ended up taking a toll on me. Also ‘Ishqazade’ took a toll on me, primarily it was my first film and secondly because I had never seen that world, thirdly I lived that for four months at a stretch, so getting out of it took some time and get back to the city guy which I was. During ‘Finding Fanny’ I had become aloof at that point. But ‘Half –Girlfriend’ over lapped me and I had to shaken it and take it off.
What’s coming up next from your list?
At this point I am doing Dibakar sir’s film that got announced with YRF along with Parineeti, for which I will start prepping in August or September and start shooting by October and that’s the only film I am doing at this point of time.
In our conversation with Anil Kapoor he told us that, “everyone will have a take away gift” so what would be the take away gift for you from ‘Mubarakan’?
I didn’t think about it as I don’t remember the picture itself now (laughing). I am so busy doing the promotions that I myself don’t remember the film (smiles). I need to relive the film and sit down and think which I haven’t got time for even with my earlier films. Still the one thing which I take back from this film is it’s always good to take risks. Everybody says niche films are the risk, I say doing commercial film is a bigger risk because there is more money, people, livelihoods involved and you need to connect more with the audience, and I am happy about taking this risk. I have grown up watching such commercial films so I would be happy doing these films.