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Wednesday, October 27, 2021
 
 

The Thinking Man's Kapoor

 

Despite being stuck in the Delhi traffic for a good two hours, the tall and suave RAJAT KAPOOR walked in unruffled, with that Zen-like smile very much in place, obliging the cameras calmly. In a conversation with Aakriti Bhardwaj Singh, the Bollywood polymath talks about everything – from creative struggles to production niggles.
AAKRITI BHARDWAJ SINGH | Issue Dated: September 16, 2012, New Delhi
Tags : Rajat Kapoor interview | I am 24 movie | |
 

Tell us about your character in I M 24.
It was great fun playing Shubhendu Roy… he is a very honest writer, very straight man and wants to live his life according to his ideals; he never lies. Then Shubhendu Roy meets this girl online who is maybe 19 or 20 and he starts chatting with her; she asks ‘How old are you?’ and he says ‘I’m 24’. That’s his first lie and he feels very good the next morning. He realises truth is not such a great thing after all and sets upon a new journey.

You’ve played Manjari’s dad in a film…
Have I? Never!

In Jaane Tu…
Oh my God, yes!

How was it wooing her in I M 24?
I had a one-day thing in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. I was not really part of the film. I did not even know the whole script. I have not even seen the film. But I did it because it was Abbas’ first film and he said ‘I want you to do this one scene’. He sent me the scene, not even the script, so I said ‘okay, I’ll do it’. I hardly interacted with Manjari. When we did I M 24, it was as if we were working for the first time. I had not played her dad long enough for it to affect me in a bad way.

You are an actor, producer, writer, director, and anchor…What keeps you going?
Coffee! (smiles) I always wanted to make films since I was 15. To do films and theatre was my only passion. I came to Bombay having studied direction from FTII to become a filmmaker. I did not want to be an actor and I did not have any ambitions in that direction. It happened to me by chance. I was acting on stage, Naseer (Naseeruddin Shah) saw me and recommended me to Mira Nair for Monsoon Wedding. Then somebody gave me an ad out of nowhere. Somebody saw that and gave me a call for Dil Chahta Hai. So it was all really chance. I am very grateful that it happened. Now one has to organise one’s time. I'm quite disciplined and I manage to find time to write. Acting anyway does not take much time. As an actor, you finish a film in 25 to 30 days. As a director you take one year and from writing to finally releasing the film it takes three years. That takes time. I am disciplined enough to push myself to write, to create work for myself. I am quite driven in that sense. For me it’s all joy so it’s never work when I'm doing a play, when I'm acting, when I'm making a film. This is what I've dreamt of doing. I'm not doing it for money. For me it’s a great high. I have no reason to complain.

Which of these roles come naturally to you and which of stresses you out the most?
I find acting very easy so maybe that comes naturally to me. What I want to do is make great films. Sometimes I feel I am getting there but sometimes I feel I am not there. That creative struggle is always there. But I think that artistic struggle will go on; it pushes you on to do better and more. Sometimes film production stresses me out. Especially when money stops coming; somebody is supposed to send you money and it doesn’t come on time, it is not nice. That’s the worst part. I am usually quite calm.

In 1985 you entered FTII and it was 1994 when you made your first short film. Success and recognition came much later. What was going on in the interim?
In 1988 I passed out of FTII, and for three years I assisted. Short film toh theek hai yaar, bana liya (Short films are fine, they can be made). First 12 to 13 years were terrible: I was writing scripts, meeting producers, trying to make films, doing theatre which nobody watched… I made Private Detective, my first feature film in 1997, which never got released. But there was not a single day when I did not work. It was a horrible time in a way that we did not earn anything, I got married, we had a child in 1996, but no money. But we were happy. Somewhere on the line, I had accepted that this is going to be our lives and this is the path I have chosen so I have no reason to complain. I wanted to make certain kind of films and I’d stick to it. Luckily for me and many others, times changed, multiplexes came in, things became possible. You can make a film like I M 24 now;  you couldn’t in '95. You couldn’t make Mithya, you couldn’t make Fatso and even if you did, you couldn’t release it in theatres. Now I am so grateful that we are living to see this time.

So have multiplexes blurred the line between commercial and parallel cinema? Where do you see yourself fit in?
I'm very much on the margin. I don’t mind being here. I don’t think mainstream cinema has any danger from us. I don’t think big stars, superstars, mainstream cinema, Dhoom 1, 2, 3, 4 has anything to fear from us. That will continue and people will go to watch those. I'm just very grateful that we are allowed to coexist. We have a small foot in the door where our films can come. People can like it or reject it – that’s another matter – but at least they have a choice to see it or not to see it. That is enough impetus for us to go on doing our kind of work.

What do awards mean to you?
It’s a great feeling because your work is being appreciated… the National Award is especially prestigious. I believe I make the films I want to make, is what I am proud of. Everything else is a bonus. If people watch it great, if they like it great, if I get an award and if it makes a lot of money, great. But if none of that happens, I will still make the same films.

 

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017