It must be over a fortnight. He has given up on his pack of cigarettes a day ..and looks calmer, not edgy. In an apartment with a spectacular Bandra view, he has taste, evidenced in the new paintings on the walls..and there are his CDs and DVDs which indicate that he's into global music and cinema.
Wife Mehr hosts a splendid table, always ensuring to find out which cuisine you'd like for lunch and which gateau for high tea.
Yesterday's drop-dead gorgeous ramp model, today Arjun Rampal has the classic movie star looks. But doesn't spread himself too thin, opting to wait rather than grab the scripts doing the rounds of Mumbai showbiz.
I haven't met him for nearly half a year. In between he's completed Rituparno Ghosh's The Last Lear and will be travelling to Toronto for its international film festival screening.
And he's in Om Shanti Om, costarring with Shah Rukh Khan again after Don. Right now without going into specifics, I want to know..
Long time, no hear. How're you doing?
I'm at peace.. I'm a father of two lovely daughters (Mahika and Myra). I count my blessings every day, I knew I'd get here and know where to go from here.. to different levels. I have a few business ideas.
Ideas about a fashion line maybe, starting on my next film production after I See You, real estate, a restaurant turned into a lounge. I can dream of such ideas because my career and family lives are stable, touchwood.
<b1>Didn't your acting career almost derail at one point?
Sure, which actor's doesn't? I felt as if I was being slapped on the face, that was my reality check. Before and after a film's release, I'd get hysterical inside, but would hide this from my family. I didn't want them to suffer with me. I was on the brink, I didn't know where life was leading me.
But you'd been through hard times before.
My nightmare days were in London where I was chasing a modelling career. Nothing happened. I went off to Amsterdam, I was sitting on some steps before the statue of some very important person, it was covered with bird droppings. And I noticed a sign under the statue, saying, "Some days, you're the statue. Some days, you're no one. So never lose hope." I didn't.
Who has been your cementing force?
The women in my life.
Aha, tell me who?
No masala here. My mum (Gwen) and Mehr have held me together. Mum teaches English literature, she's in Deolali. When I was wild and crazy, she gave me a book to read, it was called A Boy Grows Up. We're two brothers and a sister, she has meant the world to us. And Mehr is so much more mature than I am.. mentally, she's very grounded and unaffected.
Weren't you engaged,at one point,to be married to a high society woman's daughter?
Dude, don't say such things.
Yes or no?
You're talking like a lawyer. Yeah, sure I was engaged to be married.. to Kate Moss.. hahaha.
Got you! How many times have you fallen in love?
Love happens once in a lifetime and I'm in love with my wife. Okay? I don't wear my heart on my sleeve, I'm not the kind of guy who kisses and tells.
You wear Prada, Armani, CK, DKNY, the works. Aren't you
thodasa zyaadafashion conscious?
Why should I deny myself the good things in life? I'm always told that my looks are my fortune. But looks aren't everything, it's important to carry yourself sharply and if I may say so, have .. a mind of your own. John Abraham has been pretty sharp in his career moves.
Do you feel threatened by him?
I've never felt threatened. I don't know John too well but he seems to be a cool guy.
As a film producer, whom would you cast – John or you?
Obviously, I'd cast myself.
Over a decade ago, you compered the Look of the Year pageant. It's still remembered because you were totally wired on stage.
Oof dude, I'm an Elvis Presley fan, I wanted to be as cool as him on stage but I was attacked by stagefright. The room swung upside down. Is there any micro-chip that can erase that evening from my memory?
Have you been through the entire gamut of partying and drugs?
I've had my days of heavy duty partying but as far as drugs and stuff go, I haven't gone the whole nine yards. Drugs kill.
<b3>Any regrets about backing out of
Rang De Basanti?
None. Things went wrong. And please. Aamir (Khan) had nothing to do with it. I just felt that the director (Rakeysh Mehra) was weakening as our discussions progressed.. or regressed.
Which has been your best filming experience?
Most all of them actually but top of the mind it would have to be the shoot of
. I had a blast shooting for it in Bangkok.
Did you visit the striptease joints?
Eat your heart out. Everyone did. We went to so many strip clubs that after a point, they all looked the same.
This may be history.. but I've always wondered how come you did Ram Gopal Varma's
Darna Zaroori Hai?
Wasn't there a to-do about not doing his
There were no personal reasons for not doing
, it just didn't work out. Ramu didn't have a problem with this. So why should I? We've had many conversations, he has always wanted me to get out of the good-looking image, he wanted to present me differently . So, I did that episode in
. It's a big industry but a small network out here. There are no regrets, no grudges.