A DATE WITH DADDY

Dash­ing, debonair and drool-wor­thy, this Daddy of Bollywood has had a ter­rific filmi ca­reer. From be­ing the bad­die to the Daddy of Bollywood, ARJUN RAMPAL has scaled new heights of suc­cess. A ter­rific screen pres­ence and a charm­ing per­sona have un­doubt­edl

Stardust (English) - - COURT MORTIAL -

What ap­peals to you when you give a nod to a movie. You have been an in­tense ac­tor and your per­for­mances have packed a punch. Now you have co-writ­ten a film. How was the whole process like? For me, noth­ing is big­ger than the story. That kind of draws me. What the story is about and what am I do­ing in it? How is it going to be made? Am I going to be in tune with these peo­ple? Can I live with them for six months? Will that work? And if the story isn’t good or not some­thing that my heart re­ally wants to do, then I don’t do it. How im­por­tant do you think is a di­rec­tor in the whole process? What do you look for in a di­rec­tor be­fore you start work­ing with them? I al­ways look for a rhythm in a di­rec­tor. Ev­ery di­rec­tor has their own rhythm. An idea about how things will be un­fold­ing. So you know the way it works. You try to see what is new the di­rec­tor can pull out from me. First I ask the per­son who wants to cast me, why me? How do you see the char­ac­ter as me? Do you think In­dian cin­ema has evolved? What do you think has caused the change if it has? There is a def­i­nite evo­lu­tion. There are a lot of tal­ented peo­ple around. In the evo­lu­tion, a big part of it is your au­di­ence. As at the end of the day, it is them you are mak­ing the film for. They are the one’s who will de­cide the fate. It is a very amaz­ing space. They are ex­posed these days to the best of the world on their mo­bile phones. You can’t do things like rip­ping off a Hol­ly­wood film, like they did in the ‘80s and ‘90s. We have got to find new and orig­i­nal things. It is going to be dif­fi­cult for a lot of peo­ple and amaz­ing for a lot of peo­ple. We are on a re­ally good thresh­old.

What is your take on the whole sys­tem of re­view­ing a film? Do you think it af­fects the work of an ac­tor?

I be­lieve one shouldn’t read ev­ery­one’s re­views and take them se­ri­ously. You read the one’s who have cred­i­bil­ity. To­day every­body is a re­viewer. There’s an au­di­ence re­view and a chai­wala’s re­view and a pan­wala’s re­view. But that’s just an opin­ion. On the other hand, a film critic is a per­son who un­der­stands cin­ema. A critic is a closet film­maker who hasn’t gone out to make a film. And then there is a Box of­fice cri­tique who may say that this film would work in the mul­ti­plex, but may not work on sin­gle screens.

Biopics are the new­est flavour. How is Arun Gawli’s biopic, dif­fer­ent from the oth­ers?

I think it de­pends on how one ap­proaches a biopic. Our ap­proach is very un­con­ven­tional. I wrote the script and sent it to Ashim Ah­luwalia. We had worked ear­lier and wanted to work to­gether but it wasn’t ma­te­ri­al­iz­ing. So when Ashim agreed, we started cowrit­ing the movie. We de­cided the story wouldn’t be about this one guy. It would be about what Arun Gawli was do­ing when all of this was hap­pen­ing around him. You have a very non-bi­ased film and you re­ally don’t know who this man is and have to make your own opin­ion. And trust me, Gawli had a sim­ply amaz­ing life!

How do you man­age to balance your pro­fes­sional and per­sonal life?

When you do a film of this mag­ni­tude with this level of in­ten­sity, it def­i­nitely sucks you

I didn’t feel like be­ing Arjun and wanted to be Arun Gawli.”

out of ev­ery­thing and gets you iso­lated. You don’t feel like going out and meet­ing any­body as you don’t feel like be­ing Arjun and want to be Arun Gawli. My di­rec­tor Ashim was very clear that to do jus­tice to the role, I had to be Gawli. I was meet­ing peo­ple from that world to get the el­e­ments right. Then I got the op­por­tu­nity to meet the man him­self. It was a golden mo­ment when you have to ab­sorb and ob­serve.

You’ve been a part of B-town for quite some time. Do you still get the jit­ters be­fore the re­lease of a film?

Yes, of course, there is al­ways anx­i­ety. When you’ve spent so much time, ef­fort and en­ergy, you want the film to reach the peo­ple. You want it to be no­ticed and pack­aged in a way which is at­trac­tive for the au­di­ence to come and see. But that’s your Fri­day. Af­ter Fri­day, it’s your film. I think for me as an ac­tor, for the last 16

years af­ter Fri­day, what­ever the out­come is, you just have to take it. There is no point in then get­ting too emo­tional about some­thing. You should just let it go. As an ac­tor, pro­ducer or writer, I’ve done my job. And what­ever comes out of it is how the au­di­ence ac­cepts it and their ver­dict is finally fi­nal. If you get 5 stars for the film, but the film doesn’t work at the Box of­fice, it means noth­ing.

Tell us more about your ex­pe­ri­ence of work­ing in this film.

I feel a sense of real sat­is­fac­tion af­ter com­plet­ing this film. Ev­ery depart­ment has ex­celled. Ev­ery­one has been pushed to the ‘t’. Thanks to my di­rec­tor Ashim and even me some­where. The DoP is a young girl from Canada. She shot the whole film and Pankaj did some of it as well. Both of them were pushed to get the op­ti­mum re­sult. Sa­jid-Wa­jid who have done the back­ground score or the guys who do the ef­fects. The VFX peo­ple have come to me and said stuff like you know how many layers of just muz­zle fire the di­rec­tor wanted in a par­tic­u­lar way. That level of de­tail­ing is in­cred­i­ble. 80% credit is to Ashim Ah­luwalia and 20% to every­body else. His con­vic­tion to get into that level of de­tail­ing is re­ally phe­nom­e­nal. I haven’t worked with any film­maker or di­rec­tor who has worked on that level of de­tail­ing. That’s what brings a huge sat­is­fac­tion. That some­where trans­lates into your film as well.

The trailer of Daddy is re­ally in­ter­est­ing. How did you pre­pare your­self for the biopic?

We had to re­search well. You don’t have much in­for­ma­tion about Arun Gawli and what­ever is there, it isnt enough to make a movie. So I locked my­self up in a ho­tel room for three months. And we started meet­ing peo­ple from Dagdi Chawl. Peo­ple who were as­so­ci­ated with him at some point in time, the ones who live there, I would pen them down. I not only spoke to the fam­ily but also the rivals. The process was to con­vince the fam­ily. It was a hard film for him and his fam­ily. And he said, ‘ Tu bata de na kya sachchai hai’. We also got the point of view of the po­lice. And the in­ci­dences which matched, I knew they were the truth.

How has your jour­ney and tran­si­tion in Bollywood been?

It has been a great jour­ney, some­thing I wouldn’t trade for anything in this world. It has had ups and downs and taught me that you can­not take anything for granted and brings to you a sense of growth. This in­dus­try teaches you a lot about your own craft. You are never good enough. You should feel very grate­ful.

You have had your own share of hits and misses at the Box of­fice. How do you deal with the crit­i­cism?

Crit­i­cism is in­evitable. It is an opin­ion. When peo­ple crit­i­cize you, you kind of know that what you have de­liv­ered is not what they wanted. Also, when there is a mas­sive dis­con­nect be­tween peo­ple work­ing to­gether, you know things are going to go wrong. If a film is made hon­estly, it can never go wrong. Peo­ple might not go gaga over it but will al­ways think that it was an hon­est ef­fort. In the last eight or nine years, I think I’ve been quite lucky with my re­views. When you some­times read the re­views, you take the pos­i­tives from it.

Let’s rewind a bit, which has been your most mem­o­rable film or mo­ment?

When I re­ally started en­joy­ing act­ing I think it would be Don. I am fond of Farhan Akhtar as we are very like-minded in dif­fer­ent ways. I love the way he works. There was a shot when I was in the cof­fin and he was shoot­ing it him­self on cam­era. As I fin­ished the shot, he had tears in his eyes. And for a fact, it is very dif­fi­cult to make him cry. He said ‘wow’. It was a big thing for me. Also, when I did Om Shanti Om, there was the dia­logue with Deepika ekchutk­isin­door… and I was whis­per­ing to her. Farah said we don’t want Drango on the set! Make it loud. I thought, My God, she is going to make me over­act. She just said, ‘Trust me’. There will be a lot more added to the scene. And when I saw the whole thing in to­tal­ity, It was all looking good.

What is your day like when you aren’t work­ing?

I usu­ally watch some­thing on TV or Ama­zon or spend as much time as I can with my kids. Or if I can af­ford it, I travel.

It been a great jour­ney, some­thing I wouldn’t trade for anything in this world.”

Gawli had had a sim­ply amaz­ing life! he said tu bata de na kya sachchai hai.”

Glimpses from the movie Daddy

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