An event-filled journey which Arjun Kapoor began with Yash Raj Films’ Ishaqzaade (2011) has crossed several milestones over the years. Today, Kapoor is one of the most sought-after actors from the current crop and boasts of some interesting projects in his pocket. His latest film Namaste England, helmed by Vipul Amrutlal Shah, is currently running in cinemas. Besides him, the movie also features his first co-star Parineeti Chopra as the female. Before Namaste Landon hit screens on 18th October, our Mumbai correspondent, Mohnish Singh, sat down with Arjun Kapoor at a Mumbai hotel and tried to find out how his relationship with the audience has evolved over the years, what he feels about his co-star Parineeti Chopra, and what, according to him, makes or breaks a film. Excerpts…
After Ishaqzaade, you and Parineeti Chopra are teaming up again for Namaste England. What difference have you noticed personally in Parineeti since your debut film?
When I met Parineeti Chopra for the first time, she was living life at the moment. She had just done Ladies vs Ricky Bahl (2011) and then she immediately shot Ishaqzaade with me, so she didn’t even get what was happening to her, she was just going in a flow. Then her life changed when both those films released. And now when I meet her today, I see a woman who sees this (acting) as her life. Earlier, this was one aspect of her life that she was trying, so she was relaxed about it. Today there is a focus, there are maturity and awareness, there is an understanding, but inherently she is the same person in that sense. I really appreciate that about her that she has not taken the success for granted because this profession is a rarity.
What do you think of her as an actor?
Well, she was a very good actor even before. She has obviously honed her skills. Everybody does over the period of time. But to her merit, she has never been a reference actor. You will see Parineeti’s acting and will never say she acts like this person. She has always been a fresh talent. She didn’t grow up watching films, so that gives you a new perspective and I think she reinvigorated that time and time again and done all sorts of films, but you will never see Parineeti being bad in a film and that’s commendable.
Do you believe your relationship with the audience has improved over the years?
Because I am human I feel there is a better connection if you are true to yourself and the people around you. The day I start behaving fake, there will be a disconnect and the audience can figure that out. That’s the one thing I live and die for. I have never been fake and I do not feel I am not human. I think I am the most vulnerable person in the world.
When did you realize you have evolved as an actor?
Everybody told me not to do Ki And Ka (2016) and a lot of big people who saw it said it would not work, but I felt that my impulse and instinct were always right. People said that the heroine was married. All the actors in the main cast had previously delivered a flop. I was an action hero, then how I would make food? Nobody will see it and it’s not going to work. But I somewhere believed that in Hindustan, women want to have a supportive husband and these were the two topics that the film spoke of. Maybe I was 3 years ahead in conversation at that point. It wasn’t a well-reviewed film, it wasn’t loved by the reviewers, but it did very well and it opened at an unprecedented number for a film which the industry looked down upon. That day, I realised that I think like an audience member and I get to do something that most people don’t. You have a moment in life where you back yourself when nobody backs you, this was that moment.
Have you ever felt you were lacking somewhere in the early years of your career?
No, I have never felt that. See, bad for me would have to be that I am disinterested, I didn’t get the character, I didn’t perform, I didn’t help the scene, I didn’t put in the effort and I, in fact, took away from a scene or a film and I didn’t understand what was going on in the film. And I was blank and dead. It takes a lot to be that bad. You can be better but that also depends on a lot of factors. When you are seeing a scene, you do not see all the takes. I might have done the scene in many ways. The director makes an inherent choice to keep certain things.
What do you think makes or breaks a film?
When a film works, it’s because of everybody. When a film doesn’t work, that is also on everybody. So, performance also has a lot of factors to it. If you see a raw footage and you tell me the scene isn’t good then I can understand you are talking about the performance, but when you see a film in totality, I have always known that I have gone and done what the director needed me to do and what I have understood from the writing.
What is your strength as an actor?
I can, of course, be better. I cannot deny that but I have never been blank on screen. I have never been somebody who has phoned it in. I have been sincere and honest. That doesn’t always translate, but that has too many factors.
Which performance of yours do you feel is the closest to you?
I think it is yet to come. I am very self-deprecating and I am genuinely somebody who is never happy, as you can see from my face. I definitely feel it would come soon. It’s a double-edged sword because I am content with my work, but I want more. This profession is as such where you can only be content for 7 seconds and then you suddenly realize what power you have that you can do so much more.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to do more because now the audience is evolving, the opportunities are tremendous. It is such a fertile time to go out and do more. I want to push the envelope. I want to have fun. I want to do all those things that I never thought I would reach this position to do. So, the ambition is to do a lot more.