Cinema today should aspire to live for posterity: Arjun Kapoor on his artistic priorities
Arjun Kapoor just left a remarkable decade behind, and as much as Bollywood loves reserving its 6ft talents for adrenaline-fuelled, action blockbusters, the actor has consciously been moving against the grain. “Maybe because I have always wanted to be a filmmaker I've always wanted to interact with different worlds and different stories,” he tells us, just a few hours before he turned showstopper for Anamika Khanna’s showcase for the Blenders Pride Fashion Tour, along with his sister Janhvi Kapoor. We hardly expected the actor to open up about his artistic process right before a high-octane show, but such was our luck. Excerpts:
This is not the first time you’re walking for Blenders Pride Fashion Tour
No I walked for them a few years back for JJ Valaya; it was in 2013 around when Gunday came out, I think. It's great to be back. Their theme this year is ‘My Craft My Pride’ and every person has their affiliation with the term. Like I'm proud of myself for making it so far without being a messed up kid. It's also great how they encourage young talents. For instance, I think this year there's this designer from Ladakh they are showcasing. I'm an actor who's here for a moment, for a photograph but at the end of the day you're creating opportunities, you’re creating jobs I think that's what this platform stands for.
You’ll share the stage with your sister Jahnvi for the first time...
I think our family's more excited than we are (laughs)! What happens is we look at it like a job. I landed here after shooting the whole night yesterday, she's at her hotel getting ready, I'm here for the interviews it's all by the book. There's this meticulousness to it, we only live that moment in its purity up there.
We don't get to spend a lot of time together, and I remember that phase in my life when I was starting out, you're living out of a suitcase. I did Aurangzeb, Gunday, Tevar, Finding Fanny, 2 States in just one-and-a-half years! And I understand it's an important building phase of her life as well, so it's important to let her fly and let her be her own person.
You've seen and done it all in the last decade. How do you choose your films now?
I think as an actor, you either follow how other people perceive you or you go your own way. But I've always wanted to interact with different worlds, like when I got to live the '70s of Kolkata with Ali Abbas Zafar or when I'm shooting the battle of Panipat in Jaipur with Ashutosh Gowarikar, or when I’m playing a homemaker in R. Balki’s film. Every film, every world lets you live vicariously and you're learning so much because there are different energies at play.
I get excited with roles which people tell me I shouldn’t do! When someone tells me, "Tum us type ke lagte ho, tumhe wahi karna chahiye." But I can do that any time, and it will lead to a saturation in my craft. Sure, I may be secure in the hits, and I've made mistakes in my choices but I wear all my films on my sleeve because they let me learn so much.
You’re not dictated by box office then...
Not really. Someone told me 'Arre comedy kyu kar rahe ho? Why do you want to work with Anees Bazmi?" But I wanted to work with him, I have grown up watching his films! My choices have not been dictated by others’ choices. I'm working with a young female director right now who has not made a film yet, but the story appeals to me.
My greed to affiliate with every kind of talent is very personal and intimate, it's my fulfilment. I worked with Balki sir because he takes the conventional and makes it unconventional, I wanted to work with Homi (Adjania) because I love the way he thinks, I'm working with Dibakar (Banerjee), to live his madness to come out feeling enriched, it's my personal choice. I feel I'm a better person for all those interactions.
Do you enjoy Bollywood the way it's shaping up now?
Of course! The other day I watched Good Newwz and I think it's incredible that we can speak about IVF openly and the movie made 200 crores! Now we can talk about pregnancies, homosexuality, men living at home and helping their wives, things we have wanted to talk about but didn’t think the audience was ready. Today we have the courage to test the audience, and there's a lot of pride in failing in that trial.
Today, the power of being memorable is greater. To live in posterity is what cinema should aspire for. As an audience we are more involved today, digitally especially. So every child knows how Avengers was made, how 1917 was made. When I see Tanhaji doing well or Chhapak doing well, I feel happy. Bollywood is in that kind of space, where you have the best of both worlds.
Who's your favourite fashion icon?
Kareena Kapoor, always. She'll always be relevant. Fashion is never about the clothes, and I'm not talking about the ramp, I'm talking about what inspires me day-to-day, it's about the personality, how you carry yourself in a room and own it.
How would you define your style?
I'm either a vagabond or a James Bond! My style is about comfort, the only thing which I recommend is don't follow what others are doing if it doesn't suit you. I think being yourself is the toughest part of modern India...