May 9, 2013

Arjun Kapoor: Salman Khan wanted me to become a man

Reticent Arjun Kapoor opens up about missing his mother, his relationship with Sridevi and about his envy for Anil Kapoor.

Arjun Kapoor: Salman Khan
Arjun Kapoor, currently taking baby steps into filmdom, is confidently gearing up for his second film after his debut in Ishaqzaade. In a candid conversation Arjun talks of matters close to his heart.

Your second film's title, Aurangzeb, is a historical character's name. How good (or bad) were you in history as a student?

(Laughs) As a young boy, I was very good in history. My mother used to be really happy with that. But Aurangzeb is not a period film. I would to play a historical character from the contemporary Indian history, the political scenario of the '70s, '80s and '90s.

In your debut film you were a solo hero but in your next, you have three other heroes -- Prithviraj, Rishi Kapoor, Jackie Shroff. Is there a fear of being one in the crowd?

Competition kahan hoti hai? A film needs actors. We all are playing characters and all these actors bring credibility to the film. Seeing them as competition is a very small way of seeing things.

Did you feel extra comfortable with Rishi (Kapoor) and Jackie (Shroff) who have been friends of your family? 

There was no ice to be broken with them, I know them since I was a kid. I would touch Chintu uncle's (Rishi Kapoor) feet. He would tell me Tu Boney ka beta hai aur Ranbir ka dost. With Jaggu dada, I would go to their house for Tiger's birthday hang out with him and see his collection of cars.

Who do you go to for advice? 

It depends on what I kind of advice I want. I take my father's advice on every offer that comes to me. He is the audience and he's wiser. Then he lets me take my own decision.

And what about Salman Khan? 

I obviously inform him about what I'm doing, where I'm shooting and stuff. He is someone who won't tell me do this or do that. Each actor has to find his own identity and he has given me that chance to explore myself. He feels now it is up to me... that's what he wanted me to be -- become a man, take responsibilities before I entered this profession.

Aren't you proud that your uncle Anil Kapoor still looks so young...

(Laughing) I keep telling him that when we are together, instead of women telling me about how I look, they are busy complimenting him. Everyone wants to know how he can look so young at his age. I tell him that I will not ever stand next to him and take pictures.

Sridevi said she loves to see you on screen, what kind of rapport do you share with her? 

We have a very cordial relationship and she is somebody who is a part of my father's life. She has always been respectful about my work. We don't really have conversations about it.

Outsiders think there is a strong sense of nepotism in Bollywood. Do you agree? 

Whatever an outsider feels, I don't think anyone sitting in Jabalpur or Kanpur cares what my surname is as long as my work is good. It is not easier or tougher. It just makes you aware about the workings of the industry. One can easily get swayed or lose one's head. It prepares a person like me as I have been part of the industry. Being a film kid, it did open doors for me as people know me but once you get inside the door, you have to deliver the goods. No one will take an actor just because he's so-and-so's son.

You were very close to your mother Mona. When do you miss her the most? 

Everyday, every moment. I'm an extension of her. Whatever I was or am or will be, it will be only because of her. Now I see her in my sister (Anshula). She couldn't see my success so that emptiness will always remain with me. Also Aurangzeb was the last film she said yes for me to do. She was in the hospital and we discussed the film at length.

Do you see yourself becoming a producer someday? 

Being a producer's son I'm aware of the problems. Production is a thankless job. That's also why I don't interfere with that because each production house has its own way of functioning.

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