Ahead of the release of their next film, which is co-incidentally a love story, former lovers Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone paid a visit to the HT Café offices for a chat. The actors spoke about their movie, relationship, love for sports and feeling the pressures of promoting their films.
The two of you have been in a relationship. So does it actually help to know each other so well?
Ranbir: Well, it helps and then doesn’t. For example take Deepika’s Love Aaj Kal (2009) with Saif. They didn’t know each other, but they had such great chemistry. And again Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika in Om Shanti Om (2007). So I don’t think it adds or subtracts from the film. Being in a relationship has nothing to do with it, because we are only acting. Ye humare life ki
documentary nahi chal rahi hai (it’s not a documentary about our lives).
Deepika: I don’t think Ayan cast us together because of our history. He has done that because we are correct for our parts. Maybe he feels that we have certain chemistry between each other which will be good for the film. I don’t think being in a relationship helps a film. But the fact that we’re friends would help because then we are not wasting that extra time getting to know the other person; we are already comfortable with each other.
Did the fact that you will be questioned on your relationship ever cause anxiousness?
Ranbir: No, not at all. I think both of us are all the more anxious as it’s Ayan’s second release and we are so fond of him. He has really made a warm and wonderful film and we are very proud of it. He is a wonderful filmmaker, friend and person. Of course we also want our film to do well.
Would you ever work a remake of your favourite film, the Raj Kapoor-starrer Shree 420 (1955)?
Ranbir: No, I wouldn’t because I don’t think I am Raj Kapoor. I don’t think I can act like him or make a movie like him. I don’t think anybody can make a movie like him. I think in Shree 420 he’s at the best of its capabilities. It’s my favourite film and I wouldn’t like to ruin it in anyway.
I prefer hiding behind the character than exposing myself: Ranbir
Ranbir, it’s after a while that you will be seen in a love story. Are you looking forward to it?
Ranbir: For this film, I purely looked forward to working with Ayan again. I developed a great relationship with him while working on Wake Up Sid (WUS; 2009). I think it really made me understand what acting is. He has been one of my closest friends, so I blindly signed this movie. Even if Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani (YJHD) is great, I can’t take the credit of being able to judge the value of the script because there was no script when I signed it. It’s not a romantic comedy, but is actually in the same genre as WUS because the filmmaker is the same, so the voice is the same.
It’s an urban character and a very hard genre. When you have characters like Barfi, Jordan, Sid or Rocket Singh, there, I get to hide behind the character, since there are so many trappings. But in an urban film like this, you have to portray your own personality somewhere. Deepika is great at doing that. If you see her movies — Cocktail (2012) and Love Aaj Kal (2009) — she’s playing today’s girl, but I prefer hiding behind the character than exposing myself.
Deepika, what were your reasons for doing YJHD?
Deepika: Ayan is my reason. I think both of us (Ranbir and her) came on board for this film without a script. I remember Ayan taking me out to dinner and he just said ‘Listen, I’m making this film. This is roughly the idea, and I’m writing it with you in mind’ and I told him ‘I don’t understand why you would even ask me this because I really want to work with you’. I saw Ayan and Ranbir at work very closely when they were making WUS, and that’s when I knew that if Ayan ever offered me a film, I would immediately do it. I also completely identify with the character.
Is there a point where you will stop doing films where you play urban characters?
Deepika: I’m drawn to these films naturally; there’s no real thought or reason behind that. I think I understand relationships and that side of human emotion well. Even as a viewer, I like watching love stories.
All the songs from YJHD have become popular. And Ranbir is dancing after a long time. How was that experience?
Ranbir: I am very lucky with (music director) Pritam dada. I think the same applies for Deepika. I think for a love story, the most important element is the music, since you don’t have action sequences or item numbers. It really draws in the audience and adds to at least 70 per cent of the opening of the movie. I also feel lucky as I haven’t danced in the last three years. Ayan has made me dance in all the songs in YJHD. Poori kasar nikaal di (He made up for all the loss).
How much do you relate to your character Bunny’s philosophy in life?
Ranbir: I don’t relate to Bunny. I am not like him. I’m lazier and more laid-back. Maybe the only similarity is our detached attitude towards people.
Is there some hidden truth behind the song, ‘Dilliwali girlfriend’?
Ranbir: Fortunately, or unfortunately, no. If I’m saying ‘Sadda haq aithe rakh’, it doesn’t mean that I’m actually asking for my haq (right). Lots of people have asked me, ‘kaun hai dilli mein?’ (Is there anyone in Delhi?) Amitabh Bhattacharya has written the lyrics of this song, so maybe he has someone and he is sending a message through me or Pritam dada.
You are training for your next, Bombay Velvet, while doing promotions for YJHD. How hectic is it to balance the two?
Ranbir: Well, it’s tiring. Promotions are the worst part of making a movie. We are actors and not salesmen. Still, you have to go to so many places to try and sell the movie.
Do you feel like a salesman?
Ranbir: Yes, of course, most of the times. But when you work with friends, like Deepika, Ayan, Aditya, Kalki and you’re really proud of the product, you actually want to reach out to as many people as you can. It’s fun, but sometimes you have to do 40 interviews and they ask the same questions — about your character and memorable moments — and you
constantly have to re-invent your answers.
Deepika, a lot has been spoken about your looks in your films. How much interest do you really take in the entire process?
Deepika: I do have a small say in that only after the designer and the director have discussed what they want to do with the character. I don’t get involved with those things because we have specialists for that, whether it’s Manish (Malhotra) or Anaita (Shroff Adajania). They know what they are doing. When they come back to me with 20 outfits, I choose what I like and don’t.
How is it working on films simultaneously where your looks are different and demand a certain change in weight?
Ranbir: I don’t really think any film demands you to put on weight. Those are very rare cases.
Deepika: I think the only film where I’ve focussed on looking fit was Cocktail because I think the character required it. I didn’t want
to be in a situation where I’m not comfortable with my body to be able to carry off the clothes that Veronica wears.
Do you think acting is an overrated and overpaid job?
Deepika: I don’t think so. As glamorous and easy it (acting) appears to be, it’s isn’t. For us it is a creative thing, so to say that it is overrated or overpaid is a bit much. Our profession requires a lot of dedication, commitment, hard work and focus.
Ranbir: Yes, overrated and overpaid, because we get too much credit. Movies are a director’s medium and they end up getting less credit than actors. They get the flak if the movie doesn’t do well and the actor walks away with most of the credit if the film does well.
Ranbir, you are called a charmer, what’s your secret?
Ranbir: I listen to women. You just have to listen to them.
Deepika: It’s all in the eyes.
Ranbir you love playing football and Deepika you come from a sports background. Are you shocked or surprised by the controversies taking place around sporting events currently?
Deepika: It’s sad that it is happening to Indian sports at a time when it is flourishing and people are also looking beyond cricket. It is a bit unfair to all the other players who play fair and to the sport itself. It’s sad and disgraceful. But it is very unfair to say that Bollywood is now involved in it. Regular people do it as well, but because we are known people, it just gets amplified.
Ranbir: Since Bollywood is glamorous, people talk about it.
Bollywood, in general, has moved towards a level where things shown are realistic. But our dances are still choreographed. Does that break the whole realistic cinema mould?
Ranbir: Somewhere it’s true that art imitates life, but we are not making documentaries, we are making engaging films. And people enjoy this, they like seeing these songs on TV, kids like dancing to them, people like performing them at weddings. So if we do realistic cinema, I will probably dance the same in every film of mine.
Deepika: Our songs are not out of context whether it’s ‘Balam pichkari’, ‘Dilliwali girlfriend’ or ‘Badtameez dil’, all of them flow with the screenplay.
— Transcribed by Petrina D’souza and Soumya Vajpayee