Raw and Rugged, Arjun Kapoor' srecent hit Gunday proved to be one of the highest grossers of the year. But breaking away from the image of the action packed man with guns, he plays the romantic collegian Krish in 2 States, an adaptation of Chetan Bhagat's semi autobiographical novel. Born in a North Indian family, Arjun has a lot to reveal about being the typical Punjabi, playing the nerdy and cute Krish, his much talked about intimate scene with Alia along with spilling some beans on his role in Finding Fanny and a lot more in this candid conversation with Bollywood Hungama.
What was the most difficult part about playing Krish Malhotra in 2 States?
Every role is equally difficult and easy and it's always a new experience. But while playing Krish, I chose not to learn the lines of the character and decided to improvise on it. It was difficult but I did it on purpose, so that I could give a new and fresh perspective to those dialogues.
Since the film is an adaptation of the book, did you find it pressurizing to keep up to the expectations of the character in the novel?
I haven't read the book, so there wasn'’t any kind of pressure. I had read only the script written by Abhishek and that was pretty self sufficient. I know that it’s inspired from Chetan's real life but since he named the characters Krish and Ananya, I never looked at it from that perspective. I felt the same excitement and pressure that I would have felt while doing any other role. It was only when the trailer hit the screen that I realized how much of a fan following the book has. It had hits that Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and Agneepath got after its release. Now, the only pressure I feel is that I hope we have done it right for the book lovers. They should feel proud that we have adapted the book correctly.
You belong to a Punjabi family in real life too… do you think the film has rightly covered the minute details of the culture well?
Firstly, not every family has all the traits. However, when it comes to a film, we may have to generalize it, for people to relate to it. But, we haven't made it caricature-ish. It's stereotypical because the generation before us did differ in their outlook. We are representing them in a very honest way. The idea is to make people relate to it! We want people to tell that these things have happened in their family. In India, every family where a guy/girl is about to get married, parents often ask about their respective partner – Achcha ladka Punjabi hai, Gujarati hai? This can happen anywhere in this country.
People have always seen you as the rugged hero… so what are the reactions to the nerdy and cute Krish? What reactions have you got from your fans?
I think all of them are happy to see me without guns for a change! Obviously, everybody is happy to see me in this facet. And it's visually, physically and performance-wise very different from any of the roles I have done before. They are excited to see if I can pull this one well! Also, there is a 'sweetness' that comes with this character which is a word that is normally never associated with my previous roles.
It was great fun! I trusted Abhishek's vision completely when it came to 2 States. Alia…. She surprised me. I never thought she would be such a good actress! When we started shooting for this film, she hadn’t started Highway! She blew me away by how good an actor she was! Revathiji is just a calming influence on set. She has been a director herself and such a brilliant artist but she never carried that baggage on set. I have always loved Amrita Singh for her spontaneity and Ronit for his persona. I cherish being a part of 2 States as I made two very close friends in the process – Alia and Abhishek.
With your intimacy scene raising eyebrows and questions… do you think these scenes shouldn't be given that kind of importance?
Whether you are kissing or slapping in front of 200 people, it's all a part of the film. When you sign a film, we know that this is gonna be a part of it. Obviously for a guy it may be easier. But in today's case, it's surely not a big deal to do a kiss. And because of it, on the sets, it is like any other scene. After that scene, you move ahead with the script. One does not sit and contemplate on it thinking whether it was good or bad or whatever. And it is important according to a script. In this film, if a guy and a girl are living together, obviously aap ek dusre ko rakhi toh nahi bandenge!
2 States is the first film to have been shot on the IIM, Ahmedabad campus… how was it shooting in this reputed university?
I was never a college going nerdy guy, so for me, it was like first time going to a college. Unfortunately, when we had been to IIM, it was summer and it was empty since the students were out on vacation. But it has a beautiful campus and I can say this with pride that one of the most stunning campusesin the world is in India.
Has any of your friend or relative gone through the 2 States situation during their marriage … Have you helped them get out of it?
No…. not really! My friends and family have a different upbringing. I think in case of cities, the thought process is slightly different, compared to middle and small towns. So I have been very fortunate and haven't experienced any of it. But it exists! Not as much as a conflict, but at least our elders often raise this question about which caste/language your partner belongs to. They may not take any strong action against it but they always enquire about them. I have never encountered any obstacles in a marriage of my friends or relatives but I have seen the elders enquiring about their spouses.
Your last film Gunday rocked the box office… So now what are your expectations from 2 States?
2 States has the potential to appeal to each and every Indian living anywhere in the world. It showcases their sensibilities and the cultural conflict that arises when our elders want to protect us. Expectations is that we want everyone to watch the film and let's hope that the multiplexes go full on 18th, 19th, 20th and the next week and the next week, as long as the film runs in theatres.
What is your role in Finding Fanny and are you playing a hunchback?
I play the role of Savio Da Gama. He has got a body language of a loser, not that much of a hunchback. He is just laid back and has got an 'I don't give a damn' kind of body language. The film is in English. We shot in Goa with Dimple, Naseer Sir, Pankaj Sir, Deepika and others. It is ready and I think they will showcase the first look soon.
You play a kabbadi player in Tevar… how well versed are you with the game and what are the preparations that went on to get the role perfect?
I have almost completed 40 days of shooting for the film. In December, as a part of the preparations, I had met some kabbadi players to know more about the game and learnt the basics of it. We still haven't shot the kabbadi scenes since we’ll be doing it after 2 States releases. Essentially, we want to make sure that we do justice to the sport while showing it. We'll not show any wrong rules or regulations and the body language of my character will be very similar to that of a Kabbadi player. Let's hope that people will enjoy this new kind of sport.
What about your future films? You haven't signed any films after Tevar, are you looking for something in particular?
No, I am just being patient in deciding and buying my time because last year, I had four films that I was working on at the same time. It's good to take things slow. And I want to sign the right films. Last time, I signed five films including Aurangazeb. Since then, I haven't stopped shooting. Once Tevar is completed, I am sure I’ll have something to start.
You have recently entered the endorsement world with brands like Flying Machine, how are you finding the experience?
The experience is nice! I know a big deal was made about the fact that I didn't sign any brand for a while. But I was waiting for the right brand and the right amount of money that comes with it. So, I am happy about it. There are some brands I am excited to be a part of and wanted to do for a while like Flying Machine. And, it’s a nice start! Let's see where it leads to!