Interview By: Ankita R. Kanabar
He’s grown his hair long to get into the Sanjay Dutt mode for his biopic, and now that he isn’t shooting for few days, one also sees a grown beard. He’s munching on cookies when we catch up with Ranbir Kapoor at Mehboob studios to chat about his latest release, ‘Jagga Jasoos’ for which he’s also turned producer. The very handsome RK, talks about the film, handling failure and plans of direction in this candid chat…
Was the unfortunate delay to ‘Jagga Jasoos’ a bit tiring?
It gets tiring when you’re trying to finish a film in three months. When you finish a film in three and a half years, it gets mentally very tiring because you need a lot of patience. But because I had worked with Anurag Basu earlier, I knew his style of film-making – ‘Barfi!’ took two years, we weren’t expecting this sort of delay but he does a lot for you, through his camera, his treatment. I’ve had a very good creative collaboration with him so I was excited to work with him again. He’s a film-maker who works very hard; he’s always inspiring when you’re working with him. He’s challenging you as an actor. He doesn’t like rehearsals. So, everything is improvised on the set. His situations are always out of the ordinary so he always makes you better as an actor. But it really tested all of our patience, we lost hope, we tried to shelve the film, we lost interest but what kept us going is Basu’s persistence. He was adamant to tell the story so this film’s credit should all go to him.
Anurag Basu’s style of film-making is also quite spontaneous, how is it to get adjusted into that mode?
Actors are insecure, they need to know what is happening in the scene, and what are they doing. But Anurag Basu doesn’t work like that. Because I’d worked with him in ‘Barfi’, Saurabh sir, me, we were all prepared for it, but I think it was more difficult for Katrina since she was working with him for the first time. Of course, ‘Barfi’ didn’t have dialogues, this film is a musical, but as a character it wasn’t very difficult. It’s a very happy, positive film.
As a genre, ‘a musical’ isn’t something which the Indian audience is really used to…was there any apprehension before doing it?
There was a lot of excitement to do it. It’s a true blue musical, an adventure film, a detective film. It encompasses the Disney prototype of movies. This film is like a live-picture cartoon, to appeal to children, to appeal to a universal audience, so it was very exciting. Of course the risk factor is high, because nobody has done this before, but of course, it’s so exciting to break grounds, to try something new. We don’t have a formula for these films; it’s exciting for me as a producer and actor to be a part of such a film.
What was the thought process behind starting your own company, instead of maybe reviving RK Films?
My intention is to make a film for my own banner but that is when I direct a film. Anurag Basu is a very big name, his contribution ‘Jagga Jasoos’ is way more than mine, so it was only fair for me to produce with him. I didn’t want to take the whole credit of producing this film, that’s the only reason I started ‘Picture Shuru Productions’, not to start a big company but for ‘Jagga Jasoos’. We would like to see ‘Jagga Jasoos’ like a franchise film, but that only depends on how it does at the box-office. I don’t have a skill-set of a producer. I am an actor but not one of those actors who’ll tell the director that you have to finish a film in 50 days. I understand that film-making is an art and every film has its own destiny and time. When the audience sees a film, it doesn’t matter if the film took five years to make, as long as people like it. I can’t work in a time frame. Having said that, I think ‘Jagga Jasoos’ was made in a very irresponsible way. But given that, it was a very hard genre for Dada, it was a musical. Pritam dada also had a hard time to understand the music which could become engaging, simple. When you’re doing a musical, it has to be very simple and at the same time your story should be moving forward. So, that was very hard for them to crack, that’s why it took time. But we all have immense faith and belief in Dada’s vision. He understands the musical format, the Indian audience, and we all have a lot of faith in that.
“My intention is to make a film for my own banner but that is when I direct a film”
Do you feel happy today, about the kind of films you’ve been a part of? A long list of successes and a few failures….
I have been very lucky that I’ve got support from the industry; a lot of good film-makers have come to me. The industry, media and audience have supported me even in my failures. Whenever I’ve tried to go by the formula –for instance, ‘Besharam’, I’ve always fallen on my face. I think it’s not something which comes naturally to me. I think the riskier parts, the non-heroic parts; those are what I connect with. I like playing the under-hero. I am going by my instinct, my gut; I go by the director’s vision.
Somewhere most of your parts….have been highly emotionally driven, where does that come from?
I don’t think it’s designed but sub-consciously, I get attached to these characters. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I’ve done a lot of coming-off age films where I’ve done similar characters, like this guy is on some sort of a journey. So, I have to find a new me also and move away from these characters. But yes, emotions are important, especially in Indian cinema, the core emotion is so important. People want to laugh, they want to cry, you want to touch them, and you can’t make a superficial film and just impress them, visually or by a performance. The core emotion of a film is something which will always stay with the person. If I’ve moved you in some way or the other, I think there’s more love in it.
But have you always been this comfortable to display your vulnerable side on camera?
I’ve always had a natural inclination towards those parts. I’m an introvert, a closed person and it’s very hard for me to express in my real life, to my near and loved ones but with cinema and movies, I have an outlet, a purpose, a reason so I find it easier to express myself emotionally through cinema. I don’t fear judgment when it comes to cinema. I fear judgment in real life. So, that’s in me, it’s a manufacturing defect. Since I was a kid, my mother used to tell me that if I got scared or saw a snake, I would never express it. I would just feel some chemical imbalance in my body, but I couldn’t express what I’m feeling, so like I said, it’s a manufacturing defect.
You spoke about the support you’ve got from people even during failures. How do you really take that?
You’re always as good as your last film but I’ve always got immense support. I think people understand my intention as an actor. I had a Karan Johar, Rajkumar Hirani, Imtiaz Ali, Anurag Basu, such film-makers came to me post ‘Besharam’ and ‘Bombay Velvet’. Yes, it was a hard time, I understood failure, but it was a very important time also. The first few years of an actor, you’re so young and going with the flow, you get fame, adulation and then you get thinking. At a certain time, say after 10 years in your career, a saturation point hits – that how do you go to the next step now. I have been tagged as the next superstar for such a long time now, but I have not really reached that stage. It’s important to accept failure and not be in denial of it. I chose those films and they’re a part of me. When a film is successful, I haven’t been that affected because it’s always like ‘bach gaye, now until the next one comes’. It is a case of survival in this industry. I’ve survived for 10 years and hope to survive for the next 10-15 years. And that’s it. I just want to survive, do good films, and work with good people. I had the ambition to become the biggest superstar in this country but that was also very immaturely said. It takes a lot to reach there. Now when I’ve finished ten years here, I admire the efforts of the Khans, Akshay Kumar, and Ajay Devgn. For so long, they’ve been re-inventing themselves, giving the audience something to look forward to. And it’s admirable, because it’s hard to do that.
There’s a huge hullabaloo surrounding nepotism lately. What are your thoughts on that?
Of course, it exists. I’m a product of nepotism. I’m here today because my parents, my father, my grandfather and his father. I think if my kids want to become actors, or doctors or whatsoever, I would give them the necessary platform, the backing to follow their dream. It does exist and it’s probably unfair to a lot of people who are way more talented than us but we do get opportunities, we do get attention. If Lionel Messi’s son was to become a football player, you want to watch him play because you want to see, does he have his father’s talent. So, any person in any field, if they’ve achieved something, you want to see their kids have achieved something, there’s curiousity about that. It happens in every field, it is spoken about for the movies, because it’s more glamourous. But it does exist more in the film-industry.
What about your intention of being a director?
I wanted to always be a director, but I ended up acting and started doing well. And every two-three years, I used to feel; now I’ll make a film. But it’s very easy to say. You can only make a film when you have a good story. I’m not a writer, so when I find a good story where I can express myself, I can do it. I want it to come from a very natural place, and not just direct a film for the sake of it.