Arjun Rampal’s career is undergoing a major overhaul. His cop act in Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh has been much admired. The trailer of Daddy, his home production, where he plays a character reportedly based on gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli has left audiences gripped. Having completed 15 years in the industry, Arjun is happy with the space he is in. Still considered as one of the better looking men in the industry, he feels elated that his daughters too find him handsome. He has been through some emotional turbulence in the past few years but has weathered the storm to come out stronger. The chiselled actor goes all mushy in an interview where he talks about matters of the hearth and heart…
What made Kahaani 2:Durga Rani Singh a special experience?
Sujoy Ghosh is not your usual director. He is like a child in a playground. He is imaginative and has a special way of telling a story. He can take something serious and add light-heartedness to it and at the same time keep the tension going. He can also take something light-hearted and give it a serious twist. He keeps you on your toes. Suddenly, he will jump into the frame with something to say. He works on nervous energy.
What was the fun of working with Vidya Balan?
Given her movies, I believed she was a serious person. Rather, I found her to be a serious actor. She asks many questions, analysing everything from every angle. But the nicest part about Vidya is that she has a child in her. Somewhere, I’m also childlike and so we had fun. We tried to make tough scenes easy and natural. Sujoy creates a realistic environment and the childlike quality in you helps brings forth that honesty in your character.
It’s been 15 years in showbiz. How do you see your journey?
I’m grateful that I’m still here. It’s not an easy industry to survive in. I must have done something right. Every Friday things change. I tried to do different kinds of cinema, worked with different people and stayed away from getting stereotyped. Also, every setback is actually about a comeback. The whole idea is to keep surprising. I’m not an actor who has walked the straight line. I’ve done blockbuster movies, cult films, festival films, issue-based films… all this brings rise and fall as you are taking risks. But that’s what contributes to your growth as an actor.
Do you believe that you have been underrated?
I don’t rate myself. I just put all my heart into what I do. When you create an image for yourself, you start believing in it. An actor should be like a kora kagaz (blank paper), on which you can write, paint, draw, sketch… and create a character from.
What kind of an equation do you share with your daughters?
I can’t give any advice to my daughters, as they are too intelligent. Today’s generation is sensitive as well. My biggest concern is that I don’t get time for them. That is the only drawback of my profession but whenever I do get time, I spend it all with them. We make up for everything. They have the best stories to share. Maybe we don’t see each other as often but the most important thing is to create beautiful memories of moments spent together.
You were tagged as the ‘most handsome’ man. How did your daughters react to that?
(Smiles) They know their dad is handsome.
Do they get upset when they hear gossip about you?
My daughters and I share a bond, which is not about questions, it’s just about trust. I know I can trust them and they know they can trust me. That is all that matters.
Does scrutiny over your personal life disturb you?
Earlier, gossip used to bother me. Now after 15 years, I’ve learnt ek kaan se sun kar doosre kaan se nikaal do (listen from one ear, let it out from the other). I don’t read anything written about me. That’s the best tareeka. You move on.
Any do’s and don’ts for the girls?
Yes, there are lots of do’s and don’ts like most parents. I encourage them to indulge in outdoor activities and get off the iPad and iPhones or watching too much of TV. But I realise how much the generation has grown through technology. Their senses of fashion, the music they hear, the adjectives they use in conversation… help you as an actor as well. You stay tuned in to the times.
How much are they like you?
My kids are exactly like me. They are naughty, have a weird sense of humour which only I understand behind their poker faces. For me my girls are angels. They can never do anything wrong.
Are they interested in cinema?
Myra, who is 11, is interested in acting. Mahikaa, who is 14, is shy. I see a lot of me in her. I guess both will get into the creative space. They have grown up in a creative environment and in a creative family. My wife Mehr (Jesia) also has been a model and has been part of the fashion industry. If they wish to act, I would only be too happy because I would have so much to discuss with them. That will be an advantage for them as I can guide them.
What has Mehr added to your life?
She has contributed in every way. (Laughs) Band baja di uss ne meri. She has been a strong influence in my life, even in my understanding of it. She has supported me through all my lows and highs. She’s a mature woman. She has ably managed her career and home
What do you enjoy besides acting?
I enjoy playing tennis. I love to spend time with my children. I enjoy reading and travelling. I would love to visit Cuba, Brazil and Prague. Travel is the best way to grow. As a creative person, when you visit places, which have a wonderful history and architecture, it’s an overwhelming experience.
At this juncture, what do you want from life?
I’m happy. But I want to remain constantly happy and content, no matter how things go, or what decisions I take. When you wake up in the morning and feel a sense of gratitude, it means you are not taking anything for granted. That’s the only way to stay grounded.