Best known for his hunky looks and fabulous physique, Arjun Rampal has come a long way since his modelling days. Declared Society’s Face of the Year in 1994, Arjun Rampal became one of the best known and the original supermodels of the country.
However, Arjun’s foray into Bollywood was not as successful. The actor made his debut in Pyaar Ishq Aur Mohabbat (2001), which bombed at the box office, although Rampal was acclaimed for his performance and film critic Taran Adarsh even wrote that the actor ‘looks dashing and emotes with utmost sincerity’ calling his debut a ‘confident’ one. Rampal was titled the Best Male Debut at both the Filmfare and IIFA awards. But even after this, Rampal failed to create box office success with his next two films Deewanapan and Moksha, making his first three films (all of which released in 2001) consecutive flops.
In 2002, Arjun Rampal was finally seen in a film that became a hit. In Aankhen, the actor played a blind man involved in a high-profile heist alongside the likes of Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar. The film, that starred Sushmita Sen as the female lead opposite him, went on to become the fourth highest grossing film of Bollywood in 2002. Unfortunately, this time Arjun had to face flak for his performance, which was called unimpressive and lacking in characterisation.
After Aankhen, Arjun was once again on a downhill slope. His next few films, the multi-starrer Dil Hai Tumhara, Dil Ka Rishta (opposite Aishwarya Rai), Khalid Mohammed’s Tehzeeb and even Asambhav (opposite Priyanka Chopra), all failed at the box office. Even the critics were not impressed with Rampal’s performance.
Arjun was then seen in Vikram Bhatt’s Elaan, which became the actor’s second hit up till then. This time the actor even acquired critical acclaim for his performance as a former cop Arjun Srivastav. Critic Subhash K Jha wrote, “he (Arjun) brings a controlled conviction to both his scenes with his screen daughter and his engrossing death scene." In 2005, he was then seen playing his first negative role in the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Ek Ajnabee, although the reviews were not really in favour of Rampal.
Arjun finally got a big break in a star-studded film. In the remake of the 1978 hit, Don – The Chase Begins, Rampal essayed the role of Pran while Shah Rukh Khan portrayed Amitabh Bachchan’s role from the original Don. Although calling his attempt a ‘sincere’ one, critic Taran Adarsh wrote that Arjun’s character could have been better developed. Needless to say the film became a hit, though Arjun didn’t have much to contribute to it.
Arjun was once again seen sharing the screen with Shah Rukh Khan the next year in Farah Khan’s Om Shanti Om. And this time too, he was playing a negative role and even won the Zee Cine award for it. The film was a blockbuster hit but unlike the case with Don, Arjun this time had made a chunky contribution to the movie.
Arjun Rampal on the sets of Rock On!! with daughter Mahikaa
Unanimous critical acclaim, however, came to Arjun Rampal in the form of Rock On!! Not only was the film a huge hit, but Rampal managed to hold his own despite playing second fiddle to Farhan Akhtar. Rampal pulled off the talented yet under-stated and resilient Joe Mascarenhas with commendable ease. The actor, who essayed the role of the lead guitarist in the film, actually learnt to play the instrument in real life and clearly emerged a winner. The critics were impressed and some even voted Rampal’s performance better than the protagonist Farhan Akhtar’s. He also starred in an arty Amitabh Bachchan-starrer The Last Lear, for which he was once again praised by the critics. Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN praised Rampal's performance, writing "Arjun Rampal shines as the guilt-ridden filmmaker, too ashamed to even apologise for his selfishness."
Rampal tasted more box office success in 2010, when three of his films (all of which were multi-starrers) made it big at the box office. The Akshay Kumar-Deepika Padukone starrer Housefull became a landmark blockbuster in which Rampal played the latter’s stern and protective brother.
He once again plays a grey character in the Ranbir Kapoor-Katrina Kaif starrer film Raajneeti, by Prakasha Jha. Critic Raja Sen of Rediff gave mixed reviews on Rampal, writing "Rampal is the mercurial elder brother, speaking in chaste Hindi and curdling his eyebrows to show intensity. He seems more confident than before and that gives him some presence, but he still can't act.” Rampal was awarded the Best Supporting actor at the IIFA, Zee Cine and Apsara awards.
He also portrayed Ed Harris’s role in Karan Johar’s remake of Stepmom. Rampal plays the lead opposite Kajol and Kareena Kapoor in the film.
In 2011, Arjun Rampal once again starred as a villain. And this time he completely overshadowed Shah Rukh Khan in and as Ra.One (a homonym of the legendary asura Raavan). Not only did his carefully guarded bald look, his model physique and the baritone voice become the talk of the town, but his acting prowess too, was appreciated. Critic Martin D'Souza praised Rampal's performance and considered him to be the savior of the film. This one was Rampal’s show despite SRK being the face of Ra.One. Even fans seemed to prefer Ra.One (the bad one) to the G.One (the good one).
In 2012, Arjun Rampal played a renowned actor opposite Kareena Kapoor in Madhur Bhandarkar’s Heroine. The film bombed at the BO though Rampal did manage to get some thumbs up from the critics.
Later, Arjun Rampal was seen in two relatively arty films, Prakash Jha’s Chakravyuh and Sudhir Mishra’s Inkaar. Rampal portrayed both the roles well and won critical acclaim for both the controversial-themed films. Critic Taran Adarsh called both his performances “power-packed ones”.
Arjun Rampal has dabbled in the small screen. He judged the fourth season of Nach Baliye along with Farah Khan and Karisma Kapoor in 2008.
In 2011, he hosted a show called Love 2 Hate U airing on STAR World, which aimed at trying to change the perception of people who hated Bollywood actors by bringing them face to face with them.
Arjun Rampal is married to former Miss India and supermodel Mehr Jesia. The couple has two daughters, Mahikaa, born on 17 January 2002 and Myra, born June 2005 and Rampal has their names tattooed on his arms.
In 2012, Arjun Rampal, in association with Percept Limited launched Lost Festival. 'Lost' is a music festival driven by culture, tradition & soul.
On his steamy scenes with Kareena in Heroine
“I enjoyed getting cosy with Bebo. I’m still cherishing shooting those love-making moments with her.”
On awareness about sex-related issues
"It is important to discuss and to bring out in the open what the environment really is. I have two young daughters at home, when they come of age I would be making them aware that something like sexual harassment does exist and one needs to be careful and cautious about it. It's unfortunate that no one really talks about it. We don't talk about it in school or colleges, neither do we talk about it while being inducted in an organization. But somewhere I feel these things should be addressed. What is the dividing line really between harmless flirting and sexual harassment?"
On equation with frequent co-star Shah Rukh Khan
“Shah Rukh and I have great on-screen chemistry. Hopefully, this time, it will be better than Om Shanti Om. I’m keeping my fingers crossed,” said the actor before the release of Ra. One.
On his experience with co-star Chitrangda Singh
"It's been a very good experience. Chitrangda is a very hard working actor who gives it her all. Sudhir knows her really well as they've done many films together. She takes time to warm up for a shot but then within a few takes she completely gets into the skin of the character. She has done a fantastic job in Inkaar."
On his success in Bollywood
“I think when you get success, you get greedier for more. Every time I get greedy I go and achieve more. Is greed a bad emotion? When I am achieving more, am I not creating more opportunities for others to work?”
(With inputs from Wikipedia)