Arjun Kapoor is the definition of cool. He likes to speak his heart, doesn’t believe in throwing his weight around and watches movies to unwind ‘just like a regular guy’. In a tete-a-tete with HT, he opens up about his foray into television, upcoming projects and how he feels Anushka Sharma is his female twin. Excerpts:
Why did you choose to anchor a stunt-based reality television show? What is the difference between working in television and movies?
There has to be a correct time to do these things, it all has to fall into place. Television is very underrated. When people watch my films, only one per cent of the population steps out to see them, and that too if the film does well. Every Indian, after coming back from work, likes to unwind in front of the television. I can reach the masses through TV now and that’s why I chose to anchor Khatron Ke Khiladi. Television allows me to be the best Arjun Kapoor I can be.
Is TV more tiresome than acting in films?
Yeah, it is because I have to be Arjun Kapoor. There is no garb, set up, retake or a director telling you let’s do a scene differently. It is a lot of improvisation around a specific structure. The 12 contestants on the episode are just as real as me. They can say and do anything they want and my reactions have to be that spontaneous.
How are you going to be different that the other anchors who have preceded you?
It is me just having fun. I haven’t gained the experience in life to be a taskmaster or to be someone who is heavily opinionated. I feel, as a youngster, I will be a friend to them. There is a certain casualness I bring to the show. I feel the youth connects to the relaxed and casual vibe than the person who pushes you or expects perfection. I’ve added more humour to the show, made it more filmi.
Did you mentor the participants off the set?
These guys are very sorted; they came with the agenda to win. They are phenomenally focused on their own. I did two stunts in the first episode as I wanted to establish a connect with them. To show them I was very much like them. I wanted them to connect with me as a host who is young and is willing to do whatever they are doing.
In your next movie, you’re playing a homemaker opposite Kareena Kapoor Khan. We hear you took cooking classes for the film. Have you now started to cook for your family and friends too?
(Laughs) No, I haven’t cooked for anyone yet. I have got the eggs correct. R Balki sir didn’t really want me to learn how to cook; he just wanted me to be comfortable in that environment so I didn’t look out of place. I enjoyed my classes. But I am always going to be more interested in eating than in cooking.
Did they (cooking lessons) help you essay your character in the film better?
Oh yes. It’s good as a guy to learn and make the effort that goes into making a meal; it makes you empathetic. So the next time you wanna say ‘Nai yaar khaana theek nahi tha’ you will be a little more aware of appreciating the effort someone puts in to make it for you. Take two bites extra, be nicer and maybe say ‘I am quite full and can’t eat more’. Baaki agar kabhi girlfriend hui to wo bhi impress ho jayegi!
Jaya Bachchan and Amitabh Bachchan have special appearances in the film. How was that like?
No R Balki movie is complete without Amit sir. Every actor would say ‘Mauka mile toh hum Amitabh Bachchan ke saath kaam karna chahenge.’ And since I got to see both of them perform on the set, which is a dynamic not many people have seen, toh mere liye to ‘sone pe suhaga’ waali baat thi. They shot with us for a day. Experiences like these make you realise that even if your career is full of ups and downs, there are certain experiences which will continue to bring a smile on your face in spite of circumstances.
How was it working with R Balki?
It was amazing. He treats me like an equal and a child at the same time. You know how you make a child feel very intelligent and then make him do what you want him to do? (laughs) That’s how he was with me. He gives me the respect of hearing me out and then he will say ‘Yeah yeah very good, now do what I’m telling you to do.’ (laughs) He is my most experienced director. He is a very soft-spoken person on sets and the energy you see from the film is his personality. That quirky, sweet, simple persona, someone who doesn’t scream and shout is him.
If you were an actress in the industry, who would you be? Someone you see a lot of yourself in.
Waise toh main bahot unique hoon, mere jaisa koi hain nahin (laughs). It would be a tie between Kareena Kapoor and Anushka Sharma. Kareena, over the 16 years, has managed to do everything under the sun; from surviving flops to working with all generations of actors. She has got married and continues to be one of the most powerful actors we have, her work continues to get better with time and she is a very normal person once you meet her. I think I would say Anushka though, because she is a woman of today. Very well brought up, very assessable and someone who never behaves like a star. She is the closest to me in terms of a personality. The core values and moral compass are similar. She is a very down-to-earth person and I really appreciate that.