Wednesday, February 21, 2024

‘I don’t want to make films that manipulate; rather, one should feel’

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Undeniably, Arjun Rampal has been one of the most skilled actors we have in the industry. And of course, one of the fittest actors at his age. This week, for our special weekly column of Celeb Talk, the national award-winning actor gets on board for an exclusive chat with The Pioneer’s Tejal Sinha. Read to know what he has in store for you.
The Indian film industry, without any doubt, has some of the most proficient actors. While you have actors who have been highly rated and are always winning hearts, on the other hand, there are also some underrated actors who, apart from just enrapturing hearts, have also created a niche for themselves. And one of them is Arjun Rampal. In fact, we are sure many would agree with the fact that his talent has been underestimated because of his good looks. But we are sure he hasn’t given much thought to this and is rather focused on his work, bringing some amazing films, be it with his debut in Pyaar Ishq Aur Mohabbat, and went on to star in projects like Deewaanapan, Aankhen, Don, Om Shanti Om, Rock On!!, Housefull, Rajneeti, We Are Family, Ra. One, The Rapist, Dhaakad, or even in his Telugu debut, Bhagavanth Kesari.
Apart from his active venture into films, he has also been associated with brands, and recently it was with Longitude 77. Making the association official, The Pioneer got a fortuitous opportunity to connect with the star, and let us tell you — it was all a pleasure for him to represent the brand. As he says, it beautifully pays homage to the enchanting spirit of India, elevating India on the global stage and celebrating its rich culture, heritage, and terroir.
An ecstatic Arjun Rampal gushes, “My roots are spread across Maharashtra, Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, and Madhya Pradesh. My experience of India has been very rich and spread along Longitude 77, figuratively speaking. It gives me immense pleasure to represent a brand that captures the larger-than-life spirit of my country.”
Well, going ahead and discussing his mastery of the art, from Om Shanti Om to Ra One, there has been something that makes you shine as a negative character, and he gleefully enthuses, “I love to shine, be it any character.”
Looking back at his filmography, there is something really intriguing about the projects and characters that he chooses to play or get onboard for. And he feels that there are so many thoughts that go into it before he says yes to a film. Basically, “It depends on who the producer is and how the character is going to get to me. Would I be enjoying myself on set, as in enjoying the work, and will I not get bored of it midway? Will I get distracted? All of those questions are the initial preliminary questions. Would I stay as excited as I could? All these things I have to answer. One of the most important things I say is, Okay, if I wasn’t in this movie and if somebody else was in this movie, and maybe I would think of an actor who would be in that movie, would I go to watch that movie as an audience?” We were surely fascinated by this!
As we discuss his characters, there are some who, to an extent, seem to have a similar image of who Arjun Rampal is in real life. But there are also some that take him away from who the Roy actor is in real life. “I don’t think I am anything like my character in Om Shanti Om, Raajneeti, Rock On, or in any of those films. I think I am quite different. In fact, I play very serious parts, and I am actually quite chilled out, laid back, and, people say, funny. I don’t see it, but they find me funny,” shares the D-Day star, who feels that he does always search for his instinct and says, “Yes, you have to. That’s your go-to. It’s like your inner calling, your inner voice.”
With the character that he played in his debut down South, with Bhagavanth Kesari, the actor played the character of a true antagonist named Rahul Sanghvi. He is a cunning businessman who will stop at nothing to achieve his goals. In addition, he is connected to politicians and is crooked, which helps him get away with his misdeeds. The Housefull actor had to dub his own lines in Telugu, a language he was unfamiliar with; therefore, one of the largest obstacles he had to overcome was the language barrier. Arjun put a lot of effort into the project; he requested dialogues ahead of time, collaborated closely with an assistant director to understand Telugu lines, and even performed his own dubbing. But again, playing such a character on screen comes with its own set of challenges, doesn’t it? Was it difficult for him to leave behind the character once he wrapped up the shoot, we asked? And he enthuses, “Not always; sometimes it is difficult, and for that, you really need to go into a very very difficult situation — you can’t jump into another film, and you need to really go and be able to unwind and take some time out.”
Basically, a criteria to judge a film is what the national award-winning actor feels goes with the takeaways that the film gives you. That’s what he believes in. “If you can have five takeaways in a film, if an audience goes with five takeaways, like it could be a song, a dialogue, a message, an expression, or an action sequence, if you get like five great takeaways from a film, you have a blockbuster. If you have four, you have a super-hit. If you have three, you have a hit film. If you have two, you have an average film. And if you have one, then you know what it is. It’s all about the takeaways, not box-office numbers. It’s about how the audience feels about it. That’s how you get box-office numbers anyway, because when you talk about commercials and art, it’s so confusing because, like, when I make a film, I never think of, “Oh, this is how the audience should react to it,” and it’s not because the audience is not important to me. It’s a very important part of the thing. It is: what do you believe in, and what are you putting out there? You are creating something for the audience to take away from it. But if you kind of work on “Okay, this is how the audience should react here and here,” and you make it for someone else, you are being so presumptuous yourself to think about how another person should be thinking and how you should be manipulating their minds. I don’t want to make films that manipulate. I want films that you should feel.”
Well, on the work front, 2024 is surely going to be an ‘Arjun Rampal year’. Why? He has got not one but four back-to-back releases: The Rapist, Crakk, Punjab ’95, and two of Abbas-Mustan’s films— Penthouse and 3 Monkeys.
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