He’s been in the film industry for five years, having debuted with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya (2007), but it didn’t take long for Ranbir Kapoor to be acknowledged as Bollywood’s next big thing. The acclaim he’s received for his role in Barfi! proves that both audiences and critics love him.
Part of the industry’s first family, the Kapoor clan, Ranbir is now seen less as a star son and more of an actor in his own right. HT Café caught up with him on a rainy evening at Filmistan studio for a candid discussion on everything going on his life.
Congratulations for Barfi! People have begun to say that you’re Bollywood’s next superstar.
Thank you. I don’t consider myself anything like that. But yes, I aspire to be the biggest superstar and the greatest actor in the country someday! How much time, sacrifice and work that will require I don’t know, but I am willing to put in all that to achieve it.
You don’t seem obsessed with your physique, unlike most actors.
I will build up my body when my character demands it. Now, I am playing characters below the age of 30, and not every guy that age is brawny. They are all normal. If I get an action film tomorrow, I will build the kind of body it requires. I did it in Saawariya, which required a certain body frame for the towel shot (smiles). With Rockstar (2011), Imtiaz Ali was keen to have my character be a lean Jat boy. Similarly, in Wake Up Sid (2009), I was a lazy urban boy. And in Rocket Singh: Salesman Of The Year (2009), I was a regular office-going sardar, and not your Singh Is Kinng (2008) kind of sardar. For me, it changes from film to film.
Bollywood focuses a great deal on looks. What do you think?
I am an immensely arrogant person where talent is concerned. I may not be the best looking guy around, may not have the best body and may not even be the most talented guy in the industry, but I have immense faith in my talent, my passion and my drive. And I have a good heart, which is what the audience connects with. You could have the best body, like Sylvester Stallone, with a great face, like Brad Pitt, but the audience connects with someone only if he has sincerity in his heart.
You’re quite a success. What’s working for you: your lineage, choice of movies or just plain luck?
All of it together helped me take my first step. But my second step was supported by the audience. You can be a star kid or the best-looking guy backed by big banners, but if the audience doesn’t like you, you are damned! You have to have a strong, likable quality.
You’re all over the place just before the release of any of your films, but not so accessible otherwise. Why?
I have a personality problem. I am extremely shy; an introvert and a private person. I lead a normal life when I am not working. I am not on Facebook, Twitter or anywhere. I like it this way. You’ll see that I don’t have a PR manager to take care of my image, because there isn’t any image that I have set out to create. Why I want to talk about my films just before they release is because I have worked hard on them.
You just celebrated your dad Rishi Kapoor’s 60th birthday in Dubai with your family. How do you see your own self at 60?
Absolutely the way my dad is! He is like a 16-year-old, full of infectious energy and boundless passion. He loves movies madly. He still romances his wife (Neetu Kapoor), and respects his mother (Krishna Raj Kapoor). He is protective about his children (Ranbir and his sister Riddhima) and he loves food. He is far more passionate at his age than I am at mine.
Barfi!’s first day Mumbai box-office collections at R9.25 crore, are higher than Ranbir’s Rockstar (2011). It released in approximately 1,200 — 1,300 screens.
‘I am enjoying my work, but I get lonely at times!’
How have the last five years been for you?
Quite different from what I had imagined. I was born into a film family amidst protection and luxury. So naturally I had a very glamorised notion of the industry till I stepped into it. But I am happy because I am getting to do what I love doing.
How does success feel at this young age?
I am here for the long run, so I don’t want to feel successful so early in my career. Also, I am too young to feel success and failure. I want to grope in the dark, struggle and work hard. At no point do I want to put up my feet and feel that I have arrived.
You’re one of the richest under-30 stars. What material assets would you want at 40?
I have been brought up in luxury, so money has never been a big thing in my life. I am nearing 30 and I still haven’t figured out what life is all about. I hope I remain confused and clueless even at 40. That’ll keep the child in me alive. I should be as curious, anxious and nervous as I am today.
You said you don’t have an image, but you are perceived as a Casanova.
Listen, I don’t enjoy it. I was dating an actor (Deepika) and was open about it, so people started talking and writing about it more than my films. That, I think, set a perception about me. I am always talked about because of the last thing I did. Now I am single and focusing on my work, I guess that will be the talking point.
You’re admitting you’re single?
Yes. I am as single as single can get.
Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif
What about the whispers about Katrina and you?
I have worked with Katrina in two films and I genuinely feel she is one of the nicest, coolest, and most hard-working girls, other than being beautiful, talented and normal; a girl I can hang out and have great conversations with. I have a great connect with her as a friend and that is sometimes misconstrued. It’s a small industry and we end up working with the same people and meeting the same people, which tends to bring you close. That’s about it. I was always her dear friend.Are you happy being single?
Professionally I am enjoying it, but I am also lonely at the same time. It’s always good to have a partner. Being an actor you become even lonelier because you get so involved in your reel life that it takes over your real life. It leaves you with little time for family and friends. I mean, even if you meet your friends, you lose the connect in the conversations and jokes. You don’t get them because you aren’t with them every day. So you need that one constant person in life to talk to, watch movies with; someone who can keep you grounded. Yes, I do miss having a partner but it’s okay. This is also the time for me to work as hard as I can. I have to make a mark in the industry.Girls you have dated say you are a mama’s boy.
Girls? Anyways, I love my mom and she loves me, and if that makes me a mama’s boy, then that’s what I am. On Katrina visiting his house post midnight
It’s a small fraternity and you end up hanging out together. About the report you mentioned I am not sure as that night I was out watching a movie. It’s untrue and unfair to use such imagination. Katrina and I are dear friends and if we have to meet we will meet. It’s my private life and I am not accountable to anyone on this front.You’re seen as a very eligible bachelor...
That’s because most of our actors are married or seeing someone, and I am one of the few single boys in Bollywood. But I don’t look at myself as a desirable, eligible bachelor and all that. I am guy looking for a simple girl who will love me, who
I can connect with, spend my life with and who I can truly love. It’s very difficult to find true love. You have to be very lucky to find that love which will last forever.
What are your childhood memories of Kareena?
Kareena Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor at an event
Bebo was always a patakhi (bomb), khulla (straightforward), bindaas (bold) girl and she continues to be like that even today. There’s no façade to her. And this openness makes her appealing to the audience. She doesn’t take her job that seriously, yet she’s so good at it. I am really proud of her. She has an inborn talent and she has been like this since childhood. Your family is reportedly estranged. Do you miss the cousin bonding with her?
Of course I miss it! But we were never estranged. It isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be in the media. She is busy with her life and I with mine, but we have immense love for each other. At the end we are family, you know?