Some debutants generate tremendous buzz even before their film is out. Arjun Kapoor, who debuts with YRF's Ishaqzaade that releases this week, is certainly one of them. Right from the time, this boy decided to step in front of the camera, tongues started wagging especially within the film fraternity on how he will rise and shine as an actor. Son of Boney Kapoor and late Mona Kapoor, Arjun has always been closely associated with films yet acting was never on his mind. In this first part of an exclusive interview with Bollywood Hungama's Nikhil Ramsubramaniam, Arjun talks about how his debut film changed from Virus Diwan to Ishaqzaade. He also talks about how it was Salman Khan who coaxed him into acting. Last but not the least he talks about his character Parma and working with Parineeti Chopra. You don't want to miss reading this one…
You were supposed to debut with Virus Diwan, what exactly happened to that film?
Yes I auditioned for Virus Diwan initially. We shot a promo and also a poster for the film. We were all prepping for that film but in the meanwhile Adi (Aditya Chopra) and Habib sir met and Habib sir was looking for a new boy for his film. Adi asked Habib sir to audition me. I went and auditioned for Habib sir but the process continued for over 45 days with lot of training workshops. All this while, I was blissfully unaware that at the end of it all, Ishaqzaade would end up being my debut film. Coincidentally on 11th of May last year, I was told that we won't be doing Virus Diwan at this point of time, and instead will start work on Ishaqzaade. So in a way, I got upgraded or promoted from Y-films to YRF.
No yaar…I think that the buzz is only from within the industry. I'd like to believe the audiences don't really gauge you on the basis of your surname or lineage. They'll go to the theatre, watch the film and then decide whether they like you or don't like you. The pressure is only to perform well and do good work so that I get more opportunities in the future because I really want to pursue this at a very genuine level. I love cinema and want to be a part of it at every level if possible. This is my first step towards that dream. My passion has now become my profession.
Your family has been associated with films for a long time now, yet u didn't seem really inclined towards acting. Why so?
Yaar I was 140 kgs few years back. I could never imagine myself in front of the camera as an actor. However it was Salman Khan who saw something in me and coaxed me to pursue acting. I remember Salaam-e-Ishq had just released on 25 Jan 2007 and I had worked as an AD on that film. Salman bhai took me aside one day and said, "I see something in you. You should pursue acting. Let's work towards it and give it a fair, honest shot otherwise you will regret it for the rest of your life" Subconsciously I had given up any thoughts of being an actor because of my weight but when a man like Salman Khan shows so much belief in you, you just go with the flow and enjoy the ride. I began my journey towards losing weight, went and did Barry John's acting class, also did an acting course with Kishore Namit Kapoor and also began taking dance lessons. In short I did all the basics that every newcomer must do.
Is it true that you wanted to be a director initially?
Yes…I was working as an AD only to become a director some day. I was going to write my script and get going on it but then like I said, life had its own plans for me.
Your father Boney Kapoor has been a veteran producer in the industry for a long time now. Didn't you ever wish that he had given you a launch pad?
I don't like the terminology 'launch'. At the end of the day, filmmaking is a business and an actor must be signed only if he/she fits the bill completely. Yes Dad and I were discussing a few options but we had it clear that if in the meanwhile I got a good offer from outside, I would go ahead with it. Shanoo Sharma (Casting director at YRF) saw my pictures on Facebook and got in touch with me and asked me if I would audition for one of their films. That audition and then meeting Aditya Chopra and then getting a contract with YRF validated the fact that I was pursuing the right career.
Coming back to Ishaqzaade, tell us more about Parma the character you play?
In plain and simple words, Parma is an animal. He doesn't think, he just does. Right and wrong don't matter to him because he believes that he can never do anything wrong. He thinks of himself as a big Stud but in real he is a goof-ball. He keeps messing up all the time. He has no real ambition in his life. He is busy drinking beer, having fun and going on shikaar with his friends, taking each day as it comes. But he is volatile and even he doesn't know what he is going to do next. And he then meets this girl Zoya (Parineeti Chopra) who is as ferocious as him, which gets him really excited. He realizes that she is exactly like him and that's where the fun begins with the journey of these two characters.
Your co-star Parineeti Chopra said that she initially thought she would give you some tips since she is one film older than you but was surprised with your knowledge of the whole filmmaking process?
Haha…I think we both were on a level-playing field because when we began shooting for Ishaqzaade, her film Ladies v/s Ricky Bahl hadn't yet released. I don't know if she learnt more from me or vice-versa. She is a very impulsive and spontaneous actor whereas I am a bit more prepared and trained. We played off each other quite well. Since I came on board first, I kind of exactly knew the world which Habib sir had envisioned and I managed to bring that out in my performance. Yes, I've been on a film set ever since I was a child and have also been an AD on numerous films and hence I could explain the technicalities and finer nuances of filmmaking better. In an industry like ours, one always learns with hands on experience.
So did the experience of being an AD on so many films like Kal Ho Naa Ho and Salaam-e-Ishq help you during the filming of Ishaqzaade?
Obviously and that's one aspect for which I feel blessed. I think for anybody who wants to be a part of this industry, it's one thing to sit at home and think you can be a part of films and it's another thing to practically go out and work on the sets of a film and realize the value of each and every person on set who is working their a** off to make sure that the actor does a good job and gives a good take. In our film Ishaqzaade, there were about 250 people living in Lucknow for us and helping us do a bloody good job. You need to know what each person brings to the table. So in that case, I was slightly more qualified as I have experienced it hands on before as well.