Arjun Rampal – The second innings

28 Mar

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Arjun Rampal is proof that good things come to those who wait. Though he showed slivers of potential in films like Ankhen and The Last Lear, success eluded him. It took the vivid imagination and deft hand of film maker Abhishek Kapoor to give Arjun the biggest opening of his film career with Rock On. The resurgence that began with Rock On was followed by Rajneeti and today Arjun Rampal is suddenly one of Bollywood’s hottest commodities. But unlike his fellow muscle bound meatheads, the Jabalpur born actor’s broad appeal stems from his willingness to play the part of a suave politician as easily as he does a divorced father of two. After many stop-and-starts, it looks like Arjun’s transition from super model to a serious actor may be complete.

Arjun Rampal is often referred to as one of the most stylish men in India. It’s easy to see why. Despite being one of the best looking men in India somehow Arjun has managed to avoid the hot lights of the paparazzi by staying scandal-free. Aside from his daytime duties as an actor, Arjun is a devoted husband to yesteryears super model Meher Jessia and father of two girls. I did an interview with the new heartthrob for M magazine.

You have done very few interviews. Why do you dislike interviews so much?

I don’t dislike them. I enjoy doing interviews. But when you have nothing to say, what’s the point of doing an interview? I don’t want to stay in the media just to create an image or manipulating it which you end up believing in. I don’t like speaking about my private life. But I do enjoy interviews and you will soon run out of tape. {laughs}

People who use media too much shouldn’t complain when the media uses them. The relationship I have with them is perfect. I know a lot of top people in various media houses and they respect me. I am never disturbed by any photographer as I have seen them grow and create this whole paparazzi gang. They are wonderful guys if you really know them and treat them correctly. In return they will respect you with the same amount of dignity.

You went to New York to study film making but ended up doing an actor’s course
Actually I went to New York to model. My room mates were studying at NYU film school. They used to give me their scripts to read. I would read and give them my ideas. So I became a script doctor and it even earned me some pocket money. It was then that I realized I enjoyed doing this and maybe I should come back to New York and study film making. But Ashok Mehta had already offered me Moksh. Shekhar Kapoor (film maker) was also very insistent that I do it. So when I came back to India the first person who called me was ironically Ashok Mehta.

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A lot of things in your life happened by accident – getting spotted at a night club by Rohit Bal, the movie offers…
I don’t think they were accidents. I believe in destiny – certain things are predestined. When they come along you have to be aware enough to see them. Most things that I have believed in life have come true. I believe in energies and that’s the kind of energies you attract. I don’t know how I became an actor. A boy born in Jabalpur, brought up in Nasik, comes to Mumbai and has the opportunity to work with the biggest stars and the biggest movies …it must be predestined.

You didn’t have a fancy ‘struggle story’ that most people in Bollywood have
I think that was also predestined. I have been modeling ever since the age of 17. By 20 I was a super model. It all happened so fast, it was crazy. So in terms of being a celebrity and fame – I had already seen that before I got into films. I had seen a lot of success.


You had a dream launch in Ashok Mehta’s Moksh. But it didn’t work. And then came a slew of misses with Jadh, Vada, Elaan, Dil Hain Tumhara, Ek Ajnabi… Must have been very frustrating 

It was a very depressing period. Every artist wants recognition and the opportunity to work. I am happiest when I am in front of the camera. So when the opportunities were beginning to die out it was very cumbersome. I was very low and depressed. You walk into a room with a lot of successful people and you say, ‘shit why don’t I have it.’ What you are looking for is that one hit film. I started thinking why aren’t my movies working. Is it a jinx? When my movies were bombing people would come up to me and say “are you still going to do movies?” These were awkward questions I didn’t have answers to. Now the same people say, “wow man, what a turn around.” But at that point in time, it was really my family and friends who stood by me. By the grace of God I have got a strong support system. They encouraged me to stick what I was doing. It was the belief that Shahrukh Khan, Farha, Farhan and Rituparno Ghosh had in me that saw me through. Then Rock on happened.

Were there some life lessons you learnt through the period of rejection?
Oh yes. To begin with never say never. Never write off anyone. Don’t be negative to people and most importantly don’t push someone who is down. Give out a helping hand. I have seen a level of hypocrisy and superficialness. Lastly never take your self that seriously. You are just a human being – you are going to die. And when you die, hopefully you would have left behind a good body of work.

You must feel vindicated today, especially after the national award for Rock On?
I just feel a lot of gratitude towards God. I have had a wonderful life, much more than I could have imagined considering where I come from. I am very very fortunate. I’ll tell you a story. When I came Bombay to become a model a socialite asked me, “have you heard of Milind Soman?” I said yes of course. “So what are you doing in Bombay. There is not enough room for you,” she said. I told her Bombay was a big enough city for both of us. I laughed it off. Three months later I was on the cover of every magazine and doing really well. Then the same socialite invited me to her place for dinner. I asked her if Milind was coming. She said yes. So do you have a house bigger than Bombay, I asked. {Laughs} And I didn’t go! Today we are friends. People say things that ninety per cent of the times they don’t mean. You have to move on. Life’s too short to keep grudges and move around with baggage. You live, learn, forgive and forget.

In a way you stand for a lot of things in the industry – models can act, no godfather, never say die…

When I came from Delhi to Mumbai to become a model I know how many Delhi models got the encouragement to do the same thing. Some of them did become very successful. That feels really very good. And I do hope that people give chances to many more people from outside the industry. There is so much talent out there. At the end of the day you have to have real passion for what you do. Don’t do it for the wrong reasons. People want to become stars, not actors. It’s not like that. Only good actors become stars. People come here and then they want the vanity van, spot boy, and the frills. But when it comes to memorizing their lines they don’t do it or they ham.

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You and Meher fiercely guard your privacy. Do you enjoy fame?
I love fame. I know how to respect it. When someone comes to me for an autograph I never refuse. Personally I would be painfully shy to go up to someone to ask for an autograph. It must really take a lot of courage to go up to somebody and ask for an autograph. I would be very very embarrassed if I walk around and no one recognizes me or comes to me for an autograph.

But does it get annoying at times
Everything comes with a price tag. But what it gives you is far more than being disturbed for a couple of hours. Sometimes the paparazzi get a bit too much. Even mobile phones with cameras are a big disaster as you don’t know when someone is taking a photograph. Suddenly you are on Facebook! The worst is when media misuses power and cooks up stories. You read things about yourself that has no truth to it. Sometimes your kids read it and it’s really not cool. You can’t do anything about. Even if you try to fight it there are no laws that can really safe guard you. It takes ages to get things the legal way. That’s quite annoying.

You won the National Award for Rock On. Must have been an amazing feeling
It was the most incredible thing ever. I remember I was sitting on the terrace with Meher and a friend having coffee when I got an sms saying ‘congratulations Arjun on your national award.’ I thought some idiot was screwing around with me. I messaged back saying “I think you sent the wrong message. So he replied saying, “you idiot it’s on the news.” I still didn’t believe him and thought he’s taking the mickey out of me. So I quietly went to my TV room and that’s when I saw the scroll that I had won the national award for Rock On. My God, I think…I can’t explain it. I went back to the terrace and screamed it out to everyone and then we partied for a month!

The whole experience of going there and the etiquette in which they conduct the programme is mind blowing. You have to go through a thorough rehearsal. There is a strict list of does and don’ts. It’s conducted very systematically and beautifully. You also see different kinds of cinema that is getting their due. Everybody is on a high. Being with all the best talent of that year in that room was incredible.

When you see your own film are you very self critical?
I can’t see my own films. I am horribly critical. I don’t enjoy watching my own films. I always feel I could have done better. Most often I am not even looking at the film but at the people and seeing their reaction. It’s just a nerve racking thing when your film is releasing. Maybe one day when I have time and not working so much I will take all my films and sit and watch them. Maybe then I will be able to enjoy them.

You are also a budding photographer
I like click pictures while I am shooting for a film. I always carry my camera along. But they are all candid images.

You turned a businessman with your nightclub Lap in Delhi
Having done my Economics Honours I was always inclined towards business. Once on a flight with AD Singh (Owner of Olive Restobar) I casually mentioned that I wanted to own a restobar. About a month later I get a call from him asking me to check out a place in Delhi. It was in Samrat Hotel. I asked him why he wanted to take me to this bhoot bungalow. But the minute I saw it I knew what I could create there. And I think we have created one of the nicest night clubs in India. I don’t want to make it into a franchise property. But I would be opening one in Mumbai and another one in Bangalore. Internationally I am looking at Laps in London, Beirut and New York and then I am done.

You have been a style icon right from your super model days. What’s the Arjun Rampal style?
To be myself and be comfortable in whatever I wear. I wear my t-shirts and track pants for years till they wear out. I like to keep it simple.

Is there a side of your personality that we don’t know of?
I love to DJ. It’s actually my passion. I love to mix music and play a lot of good progressive house. I love to have a good time – go out and party. People say you party too much. But what’s the point of working so hard when you can’t enjoy?

On a day when you are not shooting what do you do?
Oh I have a lot of interests so I never get bored. I love to watch movies and catch up on them. I play poker on the Internet. I go to my club and DJ. I also take off with my kids on holidays. I go to places where nobody knows me.

 

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Asked on the way…

I love…
The way my babies smell. I wish I could bottle it. I keep telling my wife I want more.

The first time I faced the camera…
It was for Ashok Mehta. He put me in a pond of water and I lay there for 5 days. I was wondering when am I going to act.

Sexiest woman alive
Scarlett Johansson

Favourite food
The menu at Lap

On my bedside table

Pictures of my Gods – Shivji, Ganeshi and Our Lady. My mobile phone charger

Ideal day
Track pants, t-shirt, lots of coffee, kids, movies…

Best holiday
The last one we took to Greece

I guard my privacy
By living on the 20th floor {laughs}

If I ever wrote a biography I would title it

The things you didn’t know

Fav colour
White, black, navy blue.

Fav actor
Amitabh Bachchan and Christian De

Fav pastime
I’d rather make the most of time.

Fav gadget
My ipad. There are some wonderful apps in there and my Blackberry

I am listening to
Music that I have mixed

The biggest compliment

Winning the national award

Biggest fear
To be corrupted…to do things for the wrong reason, or just for money.

 

This interview first appeared in M Magazine – India’s finest men’s lifestyle, fashion and luxury magazine.

Arjun was shot by Dabboo Ratnani

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5 Responses to “Arjun Rampal – The second innings”

  1. Anjana March 30, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    This interview has opened up a diff. aspect of Arjun Rampal. From style icon to……….. level headed, balanced person? Interesting!

    Like

    • niveditafnl March 30, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

      Thanks Anjana. Arjun was a pleasure to interview, unlike some of the other celebs I have encountered. Will be posting more celeb interviews soon. Watch this space for more…

      Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone

      Like

  2. jamie ram-singh July 7, 2013 at 5:21 am #

    i reaally enjoyed it. i think there`s more to mr. Arjun than we`ll ever know. lol Ar

    Like

  3. jamie ram-singh July 7, 2013 at 6:09 am #

    we`ll never know all there is to Arjun. he`s very sophisticated. lov u AR

    Like

  4. dr sweetyshinde December 12, 2016 at 8:13 pm #

    Loved his punch lines – (When you have nothing to say, what’s the point of doing an interview? I don’t want to stay in the media just to create an image which you end up believing in.) He even practices what he preaches.
    All the best to the suave gentleman !

    Liked by 1 person

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