I wanted to understand the cop culture: Arjun Kapoor on his police officer’s avatar
Actor Arjun Kapoor plays a 30-year-old police officer from the special unit of Haryana Police in Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar; says director Dibakar Banerjee wanted him to get into the world that his character comes from.bollywood Updated: Oct 31, 2017 12:39 IST
What’s common to Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar and now Arjun Kapoor? Of course, they are all Bollywood actors but there’s another common factor between them – their on-screen cop avatars. In Dibakar Banerjee’s next, Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar, Arjun plays a 30-year-old police officer from Haryana Police’s special unit, who “aspires to grow and wants a promotion to play a more responsible role in law enforcement.” That’s why his character “needs to undergo special training to notch up high profile cases and go for other similar achievements.”
In preparation for his cop avatar, Dibakar engaged Arjun in an extensive, in-depth research for about 10 days that involved thorough observations and close interactions with the police force in Delhi and National Captal Region (NCR).
“More than becoming the character, Dibakar wanted me to understand the world where he comes from. He wanted me to get embedded into that world. I also wanted to understand his entire journey – from the time he was 7-8 years old till he is about thirty years old. I wanted to know his psychology and the reason why he is the way he is and why he makes certain extreme choices,” says Arjun.
Apparently, the intense experience of gaining first-hand training – of what a 30 something police officer has to undergo – ultimately took a toll on Arjun. So, at the end, he was dehydrated as well as exhausted from the intensive prep and training. But he admits it was a great way to understand how tough a police officer’s life is. “He is a police officer and I wanted to understand the cop culture. In Delhi, the cops are under the central government command while Haryana Police comes under the state, so we wanted to understand the difference,” says the actor.
In life we always wonder what our next move should be or what we could have done or should we do or not do...over the last few years I have also spent a lot of time being this person...next is not always important the here and now is important & well the past is the past...as I write this I know I will end up over thinking about what’s yet to happen has happened or about taking a decision and maybe have another night laid up in bed till 4am...but as I grow older I realise it’s a habit it needs to be broken cause it’s consuming and it takes the fun out of living...To all my fellow over thinkers/procrastinators we should live in the moment more often as the good old ‘Bollywood saying’ goes har pal yahan jee bhar jiyo jo hai samaa kal ho na ho !!!
Arjun and Dibakar spent over 10 days travelling to different spots in Delhi and NCR for different purposes – cadet training, handling of arms, physical exercises and fitness training besides having an orientation towards crisis as well as high risk, conflict situations. Arjun also spent something between 6-9 hours interacting with them at their homes and also with their families.
“I got to interact with so many fascinating people, real cops who are working every day, and have been undercover to work on various cases. Actually, I have been prepping almost for three months now. I am devoting more time for the prep than shooting it. I knew if I understand this world, I would be able to play the character better,” says Arjun.
Besides the police training camp, Arjun also witnessed cadet training of the military and para military forces. He wanted to get a first-hand experience of how they are built to tackle just about any situation involving risk and conflict. “Their conditioning looks very easy when they are portrayed on screen, but what it takes to become an actual police officer, and the kind of you have to make to reach a certain level is exemplary. It was very fascinating for me. Undercover missions are at a completely different level. It was the first time in my life that I got opportunity to meet cops at this level,” says the actor.
Not many know that an “enthused” Arjun also took up the cadet training to get a “hands-on experience.” But that meant a tough schedule of rising early, hours of exercise and physical activities in the heat and also, a completely restricted diet. “We had very less time, and my mind constantly wanted to know and learn more. So, it was a very extensive procedure and the exhaustion was more of a mental fatigue than a physical one. I had completely secluded myself. I was alone in a room and would be out and about the whole day,” he says.
Arjun, on his part, took on the challenge “quite seriously.” Since it was a unique chance to see a cop’s life, Arjun also interacted with senior officers of the Delhi police force to understand how they tackle crisis situations and emergencies. In fact, balancing both physical training and personal meetings left Arjun dehydrated, so much so that he had to rest out one day and have a lot of essential salts and water to recover his strength.
“My character is very real. So, you would feel, ‘Oh, I can bump into someone like him any situation.’ I am not playing an archetypal Haryanvi but a Delhi-based cop, who is not a Punjabi but a Jaat. Then, their talking styles changes depending on people they interact with. I had to understand all that and so, it is not only about being a cop but also a human being,” he says.
As a result, Arjun lost out on the opportunity to savour delicious local cuisine that Delhi is famous for. Dibakar kept a hawk-eye vigil on what Arjun would eat as preserving his strength was essential for the physical training. “Dibakar and I have decided that after the film is done, we will eat our hearts out [in Delhi; laughs]. When I was with the cadets, I was living and also eating like them. Psychologically, it was very important,” says Arjun.
On the final day of his prep, Dibakar and Arjun spent a day trailing the staff of a busy police station in central Delhi. Experiencing a day in a cop’s life left Arjun “stretched and tired”, but it also taught him “invaluable nuances and priceless” details of a police officer’s life.
“After the first three-four days itself, I understood the sacrifices that they make as their job entails that. They are constantly at the beck and call for the service of the nation. Plus, they have to be mentally strong. Before physical strength, anybody who is in a uniform needs mental strength. They have hardcore psychology and their love for their job is tremendous,” he says.
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