RA.One has finally been unveiled… Arjun Rampal -- bulging muscles, tattoos, body suit and bald pate has stepped out of his carefully shrouded cyber world into the hoardings of Shah Rukh Khan’s superhero fantasy a week before it opens.
"The campaign was to be broken earlier, but when we saw how well my look had turned out, Shah Rukh decided to hold it till the end. Given all the hype, I was worried about it falling flat, but the reactions have been flattering," beams Bollywood’s new bad man.
Arjun’s confident RA.One will flag off more VFX fantasies in Bollywood and will also be a hit franchise. So, will he be back in RA.Two? The actor is quick to note, "That will depend on whether there’s a significant role for me."
He points out that he’s not in Housefull 2 because there was no part for him. "I fall in love with my characters, and if anyone’s going to bring one back, it’s got to be justified and worth my while," he reasons, adding, "Otherwise, I’m happy to be remembered for the original."
However, Arjun’s sure about being in the sequel of Rock On!! (2008). "The film launched Farhan (Akhtar) as an actor, brought Abhishek (Kapoor) back as a director and fetched me the National Award for Best Supporting Actor. Abhishek has a nice germ of an idea that he’s developing. As soon as he gets it right, we’ll rock on," he says.
Is he hoping for another National Award? "I’m hoping for nothing. If it ever happens again, I’d want it to be as big a surprise — I got a congratulatory call, I put on the TV and saw my name on the ticker... it was the biggest thrill of my life," he reminisces.
And what about Rajneeti 2? He laughs, "Not unless I come back as a ghost or Katrina (Kaif) realises she was pregnant and I pop up as her grown-up son when she’s 60 or 70."
Making of RA.One
It’s been a year’s grind...three-and-a-half hours in the gym every day, months of high-protein dieting and shaving off his long locks his children love to play with. "We started with a crew cut. Shah Rukh coaxed me to cut a little more, and we went for a buzz that ended in a close shave," recalls Arjun, who has never gone bald before and was petrified about how his skull would look. "It took guts, but it helped me get into character."
It took 20 minutes to get into the red body suit. Since it was three-inch thick solid rubber, it couldn’t touch his skin and he had to wear another suit under it. Taking it off took 40 minutes because the sweat made it stick to his body. Water and food intake had to be regulated to avoid visits to the toilet. "I lost three kilos working out and three more while filming. I gained a lot of muscle and reached 1.2 per cent body fat," he says, adding, "But it’s been worth the pain."