Bollywood actor and new father Ranbir Kapoor, who has gained this reputation of being a reformed rake and a former playboy, knows whom to pin the blame on. Hint: he assigns no blame to himself.
“I would like to blame the members of the media here … You got to separate the art from the artist,” said Kapoor in an interview over zoom.
He believes the fourth estate spurred his reputation of being this eternal heartbreaker who uses women and discards them. But it’s not the case, maintains Kapoor who is now married to Alia Bhatt and has turned parent to a baby girl, Raha.
“You know after my film ‘Bachna Ae Haseeno’ came out, I got this tag of being this Casanova and it went on for a long period in my life and now with ‘Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar’ [TJMK] (which means 'you're a liar, I'm a cheat) and its new song ‘Pyaar Hota Kai Baar Hai’, a lot of people think it’s my biopic and I am celebrating my life through this film, but it’s nothing of that kind,” added Kapoor.
‘Pyaar Hota Kai Baar Hai’, roughly translated as "love happens many times", didn’t help his case either.
“But remember we are just playing parts here and the song doesn’t really reflect who you are as a person … Having said that, the character I play in 'TJMK' is someone I would like to aspire to become in my own life. I believe in his morals, I believe in his makkari [wickedness] too,” said Kapoor.
In his new release ‘TJMK', also starring Shraddha Kapoor, which is out in UAE cinemas on March 8, Kapoor plays a young man who’s a break-up specialist (yes, apparently that’s a job).
Directed by Luv Ranjan, a director who’s often criticised for portraying women as crafty man-eaters in his romantic comedies and giving a longer rope to his on-screen heroes, TJMK is Kapoor’s first collaboration with Ranjan. Did the union not make Kapoor nervous?
“I can’t really talk about Luv’s previous works. But I would like to say that I am a very responsible actor. I will not take on a part which demeans anybody … It’s not the kind of art I believe in,” said Kapoor.
Watch the full interview here:
Excerpts from our interview with this formidable actor as we talk his career and his love for cinema and more:
It’s wonderful to see you back in the romantic comedy genre because you're the king of that space. It’s easy to see you in that lovable bloke space, but is it as easy as it looks?
Nothing like that. In a romantic comedy, you usually don’t have a character to hide behind either. Inevitably, you must reflect your own personality in such films. I have done so many of them – around four to five romantic comedies in my career, but the tricky thing about romantic comedies is to find that right story filled with interesting characters and music which celebrates loves. It also must be a comedy that’s high on emotions and drama and it’s not easy to do such films. Such scripts are rare. Perhaps, that’s why I didn’t do more of that genre. For a long time, I was looking for a good romantic comedy and I am happy that director Luv Ranjan came with this fun film.
What attracted you towards this film?
I have been offered many films in the past like ‘Jab We Met’ and ‘Band Baaja Baraat’, but I didn’t do them. Many believe that my film ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’ is a romantic comedy, but I look at it as a coming-of-age love story. I have done films like ‘Ajab Gazab Ki Prem Kahaani’ and ‘Bachna Ae Haseeno’ which were romantic comedies. I think actor Saif Ali Khan has done some interesting rom coms like ‘Hum Tum’ and ‘Salaam Namaste’ … But it’s not easy to act in a romantic comedy like that regular bloke. Remember, I have been working in this industry for over 15 years now and your personality becomes boring after a while.You need a new gaze, view, and you need to react differently when you see the girl for the first time. Even the way you look at her needs to be different. You can’t have the same expressions. So, you have to constantly re-invent yourself in that same genre. For instance, when it comes to a film like ‘Sanju’ or ‘Rockstar’, you can hide a lot behind that character and play it from their lens. Romantic comedies are usually spurred by your own personality.
It was surprising to learn that you are working with director Luv Ranjan … You two make an unlikely pair. Thoughts?
He’s the only director that I sent a message after I saw his ‘Pyaar Ka Punchnama’ saying I enjoyed his film and would love to collaborate (with him). I have not sent that message to anybody. Somewhere I liked his voice, his tone, and his comedy. When we first met, we were collaborating on another film starring Ajay Devgn and myself. We also announced that project, but there were many date issues trying to get two actors on board. During that period, he narrated the idea of 'TJMK' and somewhere I knew deep down that I was looking for a romantic comedy to do. This film instantly clicked with me. I loved what he was trying to say, and I loved my character in it too. It was an instant yes from me.
How do you think romantic comedies have generally evolved over the years in Bollywood?
With every decade, just like in life, movies and characters are constantly evolving. The core may remain the same. In a way, 'Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge' was that perfect romantic comedy. Perhaps even 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai' was a great romantic comedy. But I don’t think 'TJMK' is referenced from any film that I have seen before. It’s a new concept, but its heart is Indian. Many of our rom-coms have certain Western influences where the film is set in a foreign location and have this ‘Sleepless in Seatle’ meets ‘When Harry Met Sally’ vibe. But films like ‘Jab We Met’ and ‘Band Baaja Baraat’ really changed the narrative by making the stories more desi. The characters were rooted more in our reality. 'DDLJ' was another original rom-com.
Both your character and Shraddha’s seem slightly wicked in ‘TJMK’… Is Bollywood finally adulting?
I am adulting in my life. I cannot do a film like ‘Wake Up Sid’ or ‘Bachna Ae Haseeno’ anymore. As I am growing older, the characters that I play must align with where I am in my life. I am now a 40-year-old actor, and I won’t try to push this young-man narrative in my films anymore. I am just trying to be an authentic actor.
So you play a break-up specialist in this one … Is that even a profession and does it pay well?
Honestly, I was scolded by my director and producer for saying it because they had not revealed anything much about this film apart from the fact that I play this ‘aashiq’ [lover] boy and there’s a girl that he falls in love with … It’s a battle of wills among them. But there’s so much more to the film than that. There are certain films where interviews done post its release allows you to talk about it a lot more. I don’t want to reveal the plot here.
Your last release ‘Brahamastra’ did well at the box-office. Does its success put you in a more solid spot with ‘TJMK’?
In an actor’s life, every movie is like your first one. Yes, my last film was a hit, but that feeling of relief lasts only till your next film. By the time, your next one is about to release you are likely to feel stressed. We are a part of an industry where you must constantly prove yourself every Friday (traditionally films release in India and globally around this date). Before ‘Pathaan’ released, people were questioning Shah Rukh Khan, so who am I really to be off the hook? You have to work very hard; you have to constantly re-invent yourself, and you need to have something to say through your movies. Gone are the days when audiences will blindly come to watch your film. You need to sell the film, give them a hook to propel them towards theatres. In the last two or three years, it’s become harder for audiences to come to the theatres and watch movies. It’s an everyday struggle. Just because you are a star, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee success towards any film.
Luv Ranjan is known for thrusting his heroes with lengthy monologues on life and women… Was that easy to pull off?
There’s a rhythm and tone to the dialogues. Luv Ranjan was actually a dialogue writer and that’s his specialty. In these long [expletive] dialogues, you cannot take a breath or blink your eye. It’s another form of art. It took me a while to get into that space. Previously, actors like Kartik [Aaryan] and Nushratt got into that zone well. But it took me a while to understand it. The dialogue may seem frivolous and funny, but there’s a certain musicality to it. I had to work very hard for it. Before six months of starting shoot, I start "romantically courting" my director. We go for these dates that help us get to know each other deeply. It’s a part of getting to trust each other. Six months is my prep period.
Are you an incurable romantic in real life?
I'm very balanced and very vegetarian. I believe in opening the door for a girl. I am old-school in that sense. When it comes to my taste in movies, it’s varied. ‘Serendipity’, ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ and ‘When Harry Met Sally’ are my favourites. In Hindi, I love ‘Jab We Met’ and ‘Band Baaja Baraat’. Shah Rukh’s Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’ is the OG of all romantic comedies.
Audiences are not that forgiving anymore. You must constantly give them something new and challenging. It’s hard time for Indian cinema. You must work your [expletive] off now and not take the audiences for granted.