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‘LAP may soon open in Mumbai’

After Delhi, National Award Winner Arjun Rampal now plans to open his second nightspot in the city.

entertainment Updated: May 12, 2010 10:18 IST
Rachana Dubey

arjunThe event management arm of his production company, Chasing Ganesha, organised 55 after-parties and fashion shows for 45 days during the Indian Premier League Season Three. The third edition of IPL may not have ended on a great note for many, but for Arjun Rampal it has ended decently. When asked whether his company also came under scrutiny following the monetary scams discovered in various sub-outfits of IPL, Rampal asserts that the image of his company is clean.

“I don’t have issues with a government department making any enquiries with my company. Mehr (wife Mehr Jesia Rampal) and I have preserved every document that states the details of our work during the IPL season that just ended. We don’t have to worry because our conscience is clean. We did the work we had taken up and maintained everything on record. If you don’t do that, then you’re simply inviting trouble,” states Rampal.

The after-parties and fashion shows received flak from a lot of party-hoppers in various cities. However, Rampal believes that the parties and fashion shows were a hit with everyone. “No one came complaining to me or to Mehr. We were, in fact, told that the parties were well organised and that everything went well. Maybe someone didn’t like it. But then, can you please everyone?” he questions.

Rampal’s nightspot in Delhi, LAP, is almost a year-old now. Quiz him if he’d like to open a place like that in Mumbai, and he says, “Of course. Plans are on. I can’t say much till we have zeroed in on a spot in the city. There are several legal formalities that go into purchasing or leasing a property. Once we finalise everything, I can give you details. But till then, party hoppers can be happy about the fact that LAP is on its way to Mumbai.”

Ask him if he’s aware that colleague Shilpa Shetty Kundra’s nightspot, Royalty, hasn’t opened yet, despite an announcement earlier this year, and Rampal says, “I’m not too clued into what’s happening there. I’m sure things will get sorted. However, my focus is to ensure that we find an apt location to open LAP in this city.”

‘Mehr is my biggest support’

It’s been over 12 years of being together. My feelings for Mehr continue to be the same. I love and respect my wife for who she is and the qualitative difference she makes to my life. She’s mothered our two daughters Mahiika and Myra beautifully. She manages our company, Chasing Ganesha, extremely well. She’s been with me through thick and thin. She was elated to know that I had won the National Award. Mehr has always been supportive of my decisions. And ditto me.

‘The black headgear was not my look for Ra.One’

Apparently, your production company, Chasing Ganesha, will soon start work on its second film.
That’s correct. We have zeroed in on two-three scripts. Hopefully, by the end of this year, something should materialise.

You came wearing black headgear for the Raajneeti press meet, something that’s touted to be your look for Shah Rukh Khan’s Ra.One.
That’s something that everyone presumed. But the black headgear was not my look for Ra.One. I have an astonishing look in the movie. I can’t wait for everyone to see it. Unfortunately, no one will get to see it till the movie is ready.

Apparently, Shah Rukh Khan and you once again share the hero-villain space in the movie.
(Laughs) Good try! But I can’t give you the details. It’s fun working with Shah Rukh once again. He’s a fantastic co-actor who gives everyone their due space. The project is the kind that one hasn’t seen before in Bollywood. I’m sure it will be entertaining because we’re having a blast shooting for it.

It’s rumoured that Shah Rukh Khan chose you over Riteish Deshmukh. True?
I cannot comment on this because I’m actually not aware of such rumours. Maybe you should ask someone who knows enough about these things.

You won the National Award for Rock On!!. Has life changed?
It was the most humbling experience to hold the award in my hands. It just made me realise how much everyone had loved the movie and my work in it. It makes me feel a lot more responsible as an artiste and it just increases the fire in the belly to raise the benchmark higher for myself.

You became the fourth actor on the sets of Raajneeti who is a National Award Winner.
We had almost finished shooting for the film when the names of the award winners were announced. Nana (Patekar), Naseerji (Naseeruddin Shah) and Ajay (Devgn) called up and congratulated me. It took a while to sink in. I was very happy.

Your character in Raajneeti, Prithvi, is supposedly carved out of Bheem in Mahabharata.
Prakash (Jha) came to me with the idea of combining politics with Mahabharata and setting the story within a political outfit in today’s times. Yes, it’s true that my character Prithvi has been culled out of Bheem in Mahabharata, but Bheem is only the muse, not the actual character in Raajneeti. Prithvi is an impulsive and emotionally-driven guy.

And he gets killed in the process of power play?
(Chuckles) I’m not going to tell you that. You wouldn’t watch the film if I told you the story right away, no?

Okay. Did you have to study politics to play your character?
I had to get my facts right. So, I did a little bit of research on them. With Prakash’s script and him around on the sets, it’s smooth sailing for all of us because there’s absolute clarity on what is
expected of one in the scene, of how a line has to be delivered and how one’s body language should be to get the impact right.

With all those speeches made in the movie, we’re sure you’re ready to contest elections.
(Laughs) That’s like saying after playing a guitarist in Rock On!! I’m ready to join a rock band. Honestly, I’m a lot more aware of the details of how a political outfit functions internally. But I don’t think I’d want to become an active politician. However, I would like to actively participate in creating social awareness on any issue that can bring about a positive change. And I will always voice my opinion on something that I feel is not going in the right direction. Prakash Jha with the cast of the film will be meeting students in seven campuses in seven cities as a part of the promotional campaign for the film.

He says Raajneeti is an entertainer but with this activity, don’t you think the potential audience will get an impression that it’s a serious film on politics?
Look, Raajneeti is not a frivolous film and not a preachy one either. The film, without trying to teach anything, presents the other side of a political party, the way it functions internally, the politics involved in getting powers in one’s hands and how emotions become murder weapons in the process. Prakash’s work is edgy, gritty and real. He’s beautifully captured everything and put it together without any exaggeration. The idea of going to college campuses is to interact with the youth at a one-on-one level. We want to communicate with them to know what their idea of politics is and how inclined are they towards ‘raajneeti’.

Lastly, are you happy with the way Housefull did at the box office?
Of course I am. It was a breeze shooting for the film. Our off-screen chemistry and friendships have translated on screen too. It was a fun film and it’s done decently. I can’t ask for more, right?

‘I take my work and constructive criticism seriously’

I think, as an actor, it matters that I put my best foot forward for every role that I play. That’s the reason I don’t work on two films at a time. I complete work on one, provide enough dates for it and then move on to the next. That way, I can do justice to all my characters. I don’t know whether people take me more seriously as an actor now but I take my work and constructive criticism seriously. If you ask me if the flops I delivered deterred me, I’d say they never did because an artiste should keep his work above hits and flops. If you give your work 200 per cent, you’ll go home satisfied. And I don’t think there’s an actor who has a 100 per cent hit track record anyway. I’ve worked hard and I’m more humbled that people are taking note of it now.

‘I’m not producing Nach Baliye’
Nach Baliye was an amazing experience with Farah (Khan) and Karisma (Kapur). It was my first TV stint and I thoroughly enjoyed the process. I don’t know if the show will return. But I know for a fact that I am not producing any version of Nach Baliye. As for doing another TV show, it entirely depends on the offers. If I like something that comes my way, I’ll do it.

I’d love to be part of Rock On!!2’
I don’t know if a Rock On!! sequel is on. I’m not aware of such rumours. I am working with Abhishek (director Abhishek Kapoor) again, hopefully. I’ll talk about that when we are close to that film. As for Rock On !! 2, I know no one who wouldn’t want to be a part of it. It’s one of the best films of my career.