They admit to having a “special connect” with Diwali, and Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma have reasons for an equally special Diwali this year as well, as their big-ticket venture Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, directed by Karan Johar, hits theatres. Both actors say they are happy that fewer people are opting to burst firecrackers every year. Here are excerpts from a chat with the two stars.
What does Diwali mean to you?
Ranbir: Diwali means love, family and celebrations. This is the second time that a film of mine, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, has released before Diwali. The first one was Saawariya (2007). It has been an amazing nine-year journey for me. I hope I can reciprocate all the love and support that I have received over the years by delivering good films. I hope people have a super happy Diwali and a prosperous new year.
Anushka: Diwali is a time to celebrate with your family, since everybody is together. Right from the beginning, 2016 has been hectic for me. I wrapped up three films this year, and I haven’t had a lot of time to spend with my parents. So, I will be happy to spend time at home now. Also, it’s the time to eat great food and to make the house look pretty. I love to decorate my home.
How do you remember celebrating Diwali as a kid?
Ranbir: I remember one particular Diwali incident. It was the only time when my father (Rishi Kapoor) shouted at me. I was around eight or nine years and the Lakshmi puja was being held at RK Studios, Chembur. I forgot to remove my shoes before entering the prayer area, and since my father is religious, he got upset that I had entered the puja place with my shoes on. I remember him giving me a tapli (smack) on my head. And my father’s tapli is like a box from Arnold Schwarzenegger. I remember I cried a lot that Diwali…
Anushka (to Ranbir): And ever since, you never entered the Puja area with your shoes on (smiles)?
Anushka: My father used to be away from home on festivals because he was in the army. But Diwali was the time when he would come home. That was always special, because my mom would be very happy with my father being around. So, it felt like we were all together as a family. For me, if I am with my family on Diwali, it gives me a lot of joy. So, whichever Diwali my father used to be with us are my most memorable ones.
Do you feel the fervour and the madness that are usually associated with Diwali have reduced?
Ranbir: In terms of people going easy on firecrackers, that’s a great thing, as there has been a huge dip in the noise levels around Diwali time. Earlier, people would start bursting firecrackers a month before Diwali. That’s a good thing, as it means lesser air and noise pollution. I feel Diwali is a personal festival; you celebrate it with your family and friends, so I don’t think the fervour will ever diminish.
Anushka: Yes, the excitement won’t lessen and firecrackers have nothing to do with it. I am campaigning to sensitise people towards not bursting firecrackers, but not just because of animals and birds that suffer, but also for the environment. As an evolving society, we must be aware of that. Even Ranbir has very kindly done a video for me to raise awareness for the issue. And I think one can see the effect in the air — quite literally. People aren’t bursting as many firecrackers as they used to. Earlier, they would even burst them days after the festival, to finish the leftover firecrackers. I also remember there used to be way too many shops selling firecrackers, which isn’t the case now. That’s a good sign. It’s the festival of lights, and that also stands for the enlightenment of human beings.
When it comes to your careers, is Diwali a special festival for you?
Anushka: Yes, Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012) was a Diwali release.
Ranbir (to Anushka): So, this is your second Diwali release too?
Anushka: Yes, sir (smiles). This is my second festival release this year after Sultan, which released on Eid.
Ranbir (to Anushka): You should put out a film on Christmas too (laughs).
Ranbir: The only downside is that when your film is releasing [during the festive season], you also promote it. So, you get less time to enjoy the festival. You want to chill and have fun with your family and friends for the two-three day break that you get for Diwali. With a movie coming up, there’s a different kind of excitement. But you miss the bonding time with your family.
Anushka: That’s just one downside of it, but the upside is that with a film release around Diwali, more people are going to be able to watch it.
Watch: Ae Dil Hai Mushkil trailer
Any special plans this year?
Ranbir: We are in the middle of our movie’s release, and then we are also travelling for promotions. Diwali day will be a good one to reflect on the process we have gone through during the making of this film. Today, we all will hopefully enjoy (Amitabh) Bachchan saab’s Diwali bash. He and Sonam (Kapoor) have invited us for Diwali. It’s a good time to catch up with friends and colleagues.
Anushka: I might be out of town, but if I’m not, then I will also be going for the same parties [as Ranbir].
Any special messages for your fans on Diwali?
Anushka: The reason I started the campaign is because I feel everyone knows that one isn’t supposed to harm other living beings. But sometimes, the awareness isn’t enough. Diwali is a beautiful festival, and you can celebrate it with other things, and not just with firecrackers. In fact, this is the first Diwali for Ranbir’s pets, and I am sure he realises it’s a scary time for them. I feel it’s my duty to use my influence to do my bit for a cause I feel strongly about — animal welfare.
Ranbir: I have two dogs — a French Mastiff, Leo, and an English Mastiff, Guido. They are both nine-months-old. This is their first Diwali, and I am quite scared for them. Dogs become part of your family. You feel protective and want them too to have good time and be happy. So, I hope the campaign Anushka has started, raises awareness and people become more sensitive.