Actor Ranbir Kapoor has had an impressive record in Bollywood with films like ‘Rockstar’, ‘Barfi’, ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’, ‘Wake Up Sid’ among others. Though he has been on the top of his game until 2013, the Kapoor lad went through a rough phase after his last film ‘Besharam’ bombed at the box office. The delay in release of ‘Bombay Velvet’ made things worse and ‘Roy’s failure added fuel to the fire! However, the charming actor wasn’t deterred a bit. He has sprung back with a bang, what with his role of Johnny Balraj from ‘Bombay Velvet’ winning hearts of the masses.
In an hour long conversation, Ranbir talks about two flops, working with Anurag Kashyap, ‘Bombay Velvet’, his relationship with father Rishi Kapoor and more. Excerpts from the interview:
Your last two films ‘Besharam’ and ‘Roy’ were a disaster. How important is ‘Bombay Velvet’s success?
Be it ‘Bombay Velvet’ or my other upcoming films (‘Tamasha’ and ‘Jagga Jasoos’), every film is important for me. My last two films didn't work at all. I was very arrogant and cocky with that film. I was coming with two big hits behind me (‘Rockstar’ and ‘Barfi’) and I took my audience for granted and became very arrogant. This is why I fell flat on my face. I thought I will sing some songs and crack a few jokes and it will work. But it did not. You need to learn and fall. When my earlier films worked my stock went up and then suddenly it all plummets back down and then the audience starts doubting your choices. It’s a constant struggle every actor goes through. I am doing the films that excite me and challenge me as an actor.
Was it a difficult phase to come out of two flops?
My first film (‘Saawariya’) was a disaster. I was 23 and I always had this at the back of mind that my first film will be a super hit and I will have a big fan following. But since I have grown up in a film family, I have seen success as well as failure. So I don’t take success to my head and failure to my heart.
You are doing big-ticket films where you are the solo hero, why then, did you say yes to ‘Roy’ a film where you had a miniscule role?
I did an extended cameo in ‘Roy’ just because the film was directed by a childhood friend and he requested that if I am a part of the film he will get a good budget to make it. It was wrong because we cannot mix our personal and professional lives and relationships.
Right from the inception, ‘Bombay Velvet’ faced a lot of negative press. Why do you think that happened and how did you deal with it?
The first promo did receive an average response. The film was also delayed and it was really frustrating for me but in the end I understood that the delay was to make the film better. This was the first time Anurag (Kashyap) was working with big star and with a huge budget so there was some skepticism in the minds of the people whether he would be able to pull it off. Also my last two films didn’t work so that added the pressure to deliver a good film. But in a way it’s good because people have low expectations from the film and when they come to see the film they will be surprised because we are pretty confident about this film. I am sure it will remove all the doubts that people have with the film.
As you said Anurag has always refrained from working with stars, but for this he felt there was a need to have a superstar like you. Did you ever ask, ‘Why me?’
I never questioned him about it. It’s very rare that you get such stories. I hadn’t seen any of Anurag’s previous films. After I started working on ‘Bombay Velvet’, I saw ‘Gangs Of Wasseypur’ and I just loved it. The world that Anurag has created in ‘Bombay Velvet’ is simply amazing. I have done several types of roles and here I was getting an opportunity to break my image and do something different and drastic. It might not work and people might not accept me for it but it was very important for me to try. I have always been selfish about working with good directors. I remember Vikas (Bahl) gave me this script and I read it on the plane and called up Anurag and told him that I wanted to do this role. Anurag, on the other hand, felt that I had always done urban characters. He told me he will get back to me in two to three days. He called me after a week and said I was on.
The story-telling is contemporary, but the setting is period. As an actor, was that a difficult job?
It’s a misconception that if you are making a period film then everyone is walking and talking slowly. People in the 60’s would laugh and cry in the same way as we do today. What have progressed are the fashion and the sense of style. The entire credit of ‘Bombay Velvet’ goes to Anurag because he had such an amazing vision. I remember when we reached the sets in Sri Lanka and saw the old Bombay that was recreated; I was amazed and said to myself that I don’t deserve this.
Tell us about your experience of working with Anushka Sharma.
I really enjoyed working with Anushka because she is someone who comes without any baggage. She not only wants to put a good performance but also helps others to do well. Working with her helped me improve my acting skills. She is a natural actor who knows her work.
You mentioned at the trailer launch that Karan Johar has been like a mentor to you. Could you imagine him playing an antagonist in ‘Bombay Velvet’?
Karan is a phenomenon. I have seen him as a director, worked with him as a producer; he is an excellent talk show and awards show host and even a fashion designer but to picture him playing an antagonist is impossible. He plays such a manipulative and a manic character. He has done a brilliant job in the movie. It was an amazing experience working with him. The mentor became the tormentor in the film (Laughs).
A lot was written about your relationship with Katrina Kaif and your marriage plans.
I am in love and I do feel committed and responsible. But when it comes to wedding, so much speculation spoils the fun. I would request media to stop speculating about my wedding date. I think you cannot keep it private. We are actors. My wedding date was fixed six years back. It's a special day so let me announce it. But right now there are no plans as this year both of us are extremely busy, so there won’t be any time for the marriage.
Your father (Rishi Kapoor) has become a big star on Twitter but you have refrained from joining any social networking platform. Any reason?
I don’t intend to join any social networking platform. I feel an actor doesn’t really have freedom of speech on Twitter. If an actor writes something different people will interpret it in different ways and then you go and clarify things at a press conference. But I think Twitter and my father are quite meant for each other. My father loves to speak his mind and he can be really funny. At the same time he can be controversial and I think everyone likes that. People don’t want to see politically correct individuals and my father is the most politically incorrect person.
Your father recently mentioned that it was too late to change his equation with you. Why so?
The relationship that I share with my father is one of the most special one because I know that a man is silently standing in a corner and looking out for me. He may challenge me, put me down and not praise me whole heartedly but he is doing it so that I don’t put my hands up and say I have achieved everything. He is pushing me to do better. I love him with my whole heart so does he, but we are not backslapping buddies. I can talk and discuss my life with my mother but I can’t do that with my father. I think my relationship with my father will always be this way. The media has made our relationship like a soap opera but that isn’t the case. I temporarily moved out of my house as we need to demolish the old one and make a new one and because of that I miss my parents a lot. But in a way it has helped me because I can meet them more and from a boy I feel have become a man. Earlier he would be the man in the house who would take certain decisions but now I have become more responsible as I run my own house.