It has been eight years since Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone began their Bollywood journeys. Coincidentally, the ex-lovers also kick-started their careers on the same Friday in November 2007. But today, while the dynamics of their relationship has changed, the two are unlike most others — they are comfortable being friends and co-workers, and hold no grudges. As their next hits theatres tomorrow (November 27), we chat with the actors at the HT office. Here, they talk about their personal equation, how much the last eight years have taught them, and more.
Since your debuts eight years back, how have you seen each other grow?
Ranbir: It would be hard to describe, as we have worked so closely with each other. My personal opinion is something that I have always expressed to her, whether good or bad. But, mostly, it has been good. She has improved not twice, but tenfold. When we worked in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (YJHD; 2013), I was so surprised by her. As an actor, I was intimidated by Deepika. I feel proud of her.
Deepika: Given the kind of equation we share, it is weird for me to talk about him. We all knew that he was a great actor from his very first film. I’m jealous of that. There is nothing that Ranbir can’t do. You can see him in films like Wake Up Sid (2009), Rocket Singh (2009), Barfi! (2012) and Rockstar (2011), and now, doing Dev Anand’s imitation in our next. He just switches to different characters, and does that so effortlessly. Personally, and in a good way, he hasn’t changed much. He is still the same.
Both of you have been busy with promotional activities recently. But, it’s your personal equation that draws more attention, rather than your film. How comfortable are you with that?
Ranbir: I don’t know if it’s fortunate or unfortunate, but having said that, I know that Deepika and I have worked really hard on this film. What you see on screen is not a biopic; they are characters. But yes, maybe because we have a history, the fine line between real and reel may get confusing. I don’t know if this helps in the marketingof the movie, and people getting interested in it — I personally don’t think that is the right way to do it — but we can’t escape it. It has been happening to us for eight years now. Every time we’ve promoted a film, the questions asked are related to our personal lives. So we’re fighting it hard; hoping that we can fight it with our work. It gets uncomfortable sometimes, because what we say gets misconstrued. But we have a great understanding. We respect each other.
Deepika: It’s okay. Even with YJHD, the same thing happened. Before the film released, it was always about our personal lives. But once it released, it was about work. Yes, questions about our personal lives are inevitable, but we’ve been around long enough to understand that this is something that we hope will change.
Watch: Ranbir, Deepika in Matargashti from Tamasha
It happens, perhaps, because your relationship is seen as something unnatural for most — that two people who have had a past, still share such a congenial, respectful equation…
Deepika: It’s not unnatural. We’ve not consciously developed what we have between us. It is what it is. I understand that people may find it weird; how we have an equation like this in spite of our past. But there’s no formula to it. Nobody has told us how it should be. We’re fortunate to have the equation that we do, and I think we are mature enough to understand that, for us, our work is our priority.
How much has Imtiaz Ali (director) changed since the last time you both worked with him?
Deepika: Nothing has changed, and that is the beauty of it. For me, he is the same Imtiaz I worked with in Love Aaj Kal (2009). If anything, our bond has become stronger, and there is a lot more warmth, trust and love.
Ranbir: Since he has made love stories before, you’d think that this person has a certain formula, a certain pattern. But, it is a rare thing when a successful director, like Imtiaz, breaks the pattern. He went back to simplicity, followed his heart, and tried to tell a story the way he wanted to tell it. There is nothing complex, nothing layered, and that was very heart-warming for me.
How much do you relate to your characters in Tamasha?
Ranbir: I relate to mine a lot. Ved is someone I got attached to. Yes, I was a celebrity kid and a star son, but I have always been below average in life — be it in school, sports, dramatics or college. I was never special, and that is the quality about Ved, who is also below average. Then someone comes into his life, and recognises his one special quality. In my life, it was Sanjay Leela Bhansali (film-maker). He came into my life, and while I assisted him, I got passionate about films.
Deepika: I too relate to the character, which I feel everyone will as well. But more than that, I relate to what the film is trying to say. It is so relevant in today’s times because it asks people to follow their heart and their passion. Do what makes you happy. For example, Ranbir and I always wanted to be actors, and we are fortunate that are parents allowed us to follow our passion. On the other hand, we have friends who wanted to do something with their lives, but due to pressures and various reasons, they are stuck doing something they are not excited about. It makes you mechanical and unhappy. The film is about that; it’s about getting stuck in a system, or what society expects you to do, versus what you want to do for yourself.
Ranbir, in your previous interviews, you’ve expressed that you’re feeling the pressure to deliver a hit, since your last few films didn’t do well...
Ranbir: I feel the pressure with every film. But, to be honest, my first film didn’t do very well at the box office, so I have a certain acceptance of failure. I have seen failure more than I have seen success. The audience has trusted me, and I don’t want to take advantage of that. With my past three outings, I let them down. It is my responsibility to do better things, and choose better films, and act better. So, of course, I take that responsibility.
Watch: Ranbir, Deepika in Tamasha trailer
Both of you have had successes and failures. Individually, how do you handle your failures?
Ranbir: It is very hard. I first experienced failure with Sawaariya (2007). I was 23, and the movie was a dream come true. These past few films, especially Bombay Velvet, were made to be mega-disasters. It really hurt me. It took me time to understand what happened, but it also made me stronger. It made me value people around me. You don’t value people when there are successes. The people who are still standing by you when you fail, and help you through it, are important.
Deepika: It is not easy, because you give so much of yourself and your life to a film. And the intention is never to make a bad film. But at the same time, the criticism can be a little harsh. But, it’s what you make of the failure, and how you use it constructively.
Do your characters have a lasting impact on you?
Deepika: Yes, characters like Veronica (her role in Cocktail; 2012), or even the role I am playing in Bajirao Mastani, have stayed with me. It’s a little bit of give and take. You gain something from some characters. But after a film is completed, to get back to who you really are, that transition takes a while.
It must be tough to shoot two films simultaneously…
Deepika: That’s why it’s hard. If you ask any actor, they will tell you that the ideal way to work is to do one film at a time. Doing two films is not the ideal situation, and it’s difficult, as you are jumping between characters. Anyway, an actor’s job is about manipulating one’s feelings, as you feel a certain way personally, but portray the feelings of a character on the sets. It looks glamorous, but acting is not as easy as it looks.
Where do you think you are in your career at this stage?
Deepika: I don’t know. I don’t sit down and analyse. I don’t think I ever want to have an objective view of where I am in my career. I want to do better than my last performance, and simply keep getting better. More than that, I want to enjoy my work. If you don’t enjoy your work, you will have a problem.