Ishaqzaade lead actor Arjun Kapoor pulls his co-star Parineeti Chopra’s leg, as the duo argues, fights, laughs hysterically and entertains a roomful at the HT office.
Arjun, didn’t you want to wait for your father or uncle to launch you?
Arjun: I wasn’t exactly waiting for them to launch me. We were talking about it but simultaneously, I met Shanoo Sharma (the casting director). Later, she realised that I was Boney Kapoor’s son. Still, she asked whether I would like to audition for the part. Aur koi duffer hi nahi bolega Yash Raj ke offer ko. Maine kar liya audition (only a duffer would say no to Yash Raj films. So I did the audition). I was confident that I could pull it off. I think the time has passed when you really had to be ‘launched’.
Today’s audience watches films regardless of surnames or who has made it. Films work due to scripts, characters and what you see on screen.
In fact, if my father had made the film, there would have been a lot of pressure on him. Eventually, it’s business and not an emotional matter. He is happy about the fact that I have done it on my own in an industry where it’s tougher to do it on your own than when you’re someone’s son.
Did you discuss your Ishaqzaade role with your uncle, Anil Kapoor?
Arjun: If I start doing that (talking to Anil), it’s a never-ending scenario. It’s like agar homework nahi aata toh tum tuition teacher ke paas jaakar baith jao (if you can’t finish your homework, go and sit with a tutor). If I go to Anil chachu, he is going to tell me that he used to listen to his directors. And that he used to have a particular way of doing things. So eventually, it all comes down to the same thing.
Parineeti, everyone knows you are related to Priyanka…
Arjun (looking at Parineeti):Nahi mujhe toh nahi pata hai! (I didn’t know)
Parineeti:Tumhe kuch bhi nahi pata hai! (You don’t know anything)...You are related to Priyanka.
So how much have you been exposed to the world of cinema?
Parineeti: Not much, actually. Everyone thinks that ye toh Priyanka Chopra ki behen hai toh mujhe zindagi main dhai crore offer aayein honge aur usne mujhe sab kuch sikha diya hoga (that I would have got several offers and she would have taught me everything). But actually, in my entire life, I went to the sets only once when she was shooting for Yakeen. At that time, I was really young.
Ek saal pehle tak (till a year ago), I used to hate actors and acting. I am really sorry to say this, but it was true. And I used to say this to didi ki job hi tum karti ho mujhe kuch samajh mein nahi aata (I can’t understand your job). You have to look nice and say just one line in the entire day. And she would always tell me, ‘don’t comment on it. You don’t know what acting is. If you ever become an actor, you will understand.’ And I would always tell her, ‘please, I would never become an actor.’
And then I joined Yash Raj (in the marketing department) and while working there, I used to meet actors every day. I used to see why they are so stressed, and why they are so sought after. That’s when I realised that this was not a mindless job. There’s glamour attached to it, but that will come only after you have done your work. And that’s when I thought I should act. So it’s not like I thought that since didi is an actor, I should also become an actor.
Parineeti, you are technically Arjun’s senior. So did you teach him anything on the sets?
Parineeti:Haan…I had thought that I will teach him some acting. Jokes apart, he might not have acted before but he was my
senior. He has grown up in that (Kapoor) family.
He comes up with references to many movies. He has worked on 10 films, while I had just one film’s experience.
Arjun: I assisted on a lot of films, outside my dad’s company. I only did two of his films. For me, it’s like second nature to be associated with cinema, but for her, it’s completely new. I think that’s her advantage. What works for her is that she didn’t have anyone’s impressions on her mind while growing up. So her acting comes from a different space than mine.
I kept telling Habib sir (Ishaqzaade director Habib Faisal) that in my head, I was doing everything in 48 frames like a Hindi film hero. I deal with everything in a filmi way while she comes up with very real interpretations. She is spontaneous. I am very filmi by nature.
What were the shooting conditions in Lucknow?
Arjun: (Sarcastically) Superb, brilliant, they couldn’t have been better. Our film was supposed to be a summer film. And we shot in winter.
Parineeti: It was the worst experience ever. We were supposed to look sweaty, but instead, we were shooting in zero degree temperature in Lucknow.
All around us, we could see our entire unit of 200 people wearing scarves and mufflers and jackets, while Arjun was wearing a ganji (vest) and I was in my cotton churidaar-kurta.
Arjun: There were times when we couldn’t say our dialogue because of the bhaap (mist emitted from the mouth in a cold climate), so we were made to drink cold water.
Parineeti: It was insane. We were trying to do a romantic scene and thanks to the cold, we couldn’t say a single word.
Arjun: And I was completely ruined because I did a running scene wearing chappals without a warm-up. It was difficult and all, but in retrospect, it all seems worth it.
We heard that while shooting in Lucknow, you guys kept each other away from food. Any truth to that?
Parineeti: Really? No way. We’re both complete foodies and in fact, Habib sir would try and keep us away from oily and heavy food. But we used to eat it discreetly. And every evening, we would want something different.
Arjun: And the food in Lucknow is amazing. Those tunday kebabs, biryani, kulchas and nalli nihari.
And every day, we would try new food. In fact, it was getting difficult to concentrate on work because there was so much food over there. And Habib sir loved chaat so he would have some every evening, but restrict us from eating.
Arjun, some people have already drawn comparisons between your role in Ishaqzaade and your uncle Anil Kapoor’s in Ram Lakhan and Tezaab.
Arjun: If I start getting compared to Anil chachu, I’ll stop acting because then, I’d have achieved a lot.
He’s Anil Kapoor. If I reach his level when I’m that age, then that means that I would have outdone a lot of people. The cause of these comparisons is probably that when Anil chachu started working, the kind of roles he did portrayed him as a tough guy.
Has he seen the film yet?
Arjun: No, but he saw the trailer and called me and said in his typical manner, ‘Arjun chachu, superb, superb, mind-blowing. Fantastic,’ and before I could say anything, he hung up.
He called you Chachu?
Arjun: Yes. He calls me that. Don’t ask me why, but ever since I was a kid, he has been calling me that. You should actually ask him this.
Parineeti: All Arjun’s friends also call him Arjun chachu. It’s really funny!
What’s next after Ishaqzaade?
Arjun: Hopefully, we will go to theatres and see people watching our film. Depending on the film’s failure or acceptance, we will see how things go.
Parineeti: I don’t know. Maybe next week, we will sit with Adi and see what’s next for us.