e might be on the radar of NCB. But as Arjun Rampal steps into the New Year, he has reason to cheer. His latest film Nail Polish is receiving rave reviews. Never mind that much of the critical acclaim is being shared by gifted actor Manav Kaul who clearly has an author- backed role in the film. But then who knows better than Arjun that the film belongs to not just the lead protagonist but all members of the cast. Supporting actor he may have been of many a blockbuster like Don and Om Shanti Om, the D-Day actor says, “I work in films where I believe in the script. I don’ think any one person can take the credit for the success of a film.”
Lest you forget his Punjabi roots, curling down to Hoshiarpur, he is the son of a Hindu Punjabi father and half-Sikh and half-Dutch mother. The one thing distinctively Punjabi about him, you guessed it, are his taste buds as he simply loves makki di roti and sarson da saag.
Secure in the space that he has carved for himself, as Arjun who made his debut in 2001 with Pyaar Ishq Aur Mohabbat logs 20 years in the film industry, his feelings are a mixed bag of emotions. He is satisfied and yet not quite. Sure much has changed from the time when theatrics was considered good acting. He says, “Yes, there was a point when I began my film career and one had to be loud and bring all the emotions on one’s face. Little thought was paid to internalising a character.” Today, however, he is happy that both the perception of acting and cinema has changed. “Even an Abbas-Mustan film like Penthouse, which I am doing, despite the duo being known for stylised content, can be so real.”
Whether OTT has led cinema to turn a new corner or not he certainly views the arrival of streaming platforms as a boon. “Now, storytellers can tell the kind of story they want to, minus the pressure of box office or censor.” Soon he too will be making a web series. What it will be, dark or bright, he may not be ready to reveal as yet. However, he does divulge it will be about Punjab and most likely he will not act in it. One day he may turn a director, ‘the thought is very tempting’, provided he can tell the story from his heart. Heartfelt also would be his autobiography as and when he decides to write it. As of now it may just be in the offing, and as soon as the news broke publishers did line up. The privilege to choose also applies to his work and he has reached a point where he can say ‘no thank you’ to parts he doesn’t care to play.
We wonder if the actor of significant films like Rituparno Ghosh’s much acclaimed The Last Lear, which also went to Toronto International Film Festival, didn’t quite sell the actor in him as he could have. He smiles and quips, “I don’t sell myself even now, I am not for sale.”
Critics can be kind/unkind, he takes constructive criticism in stride. Learning a lesson from his movie Inkaar, he believes, “Anyone who proves you wrong should be considered your friend, for they will always be truthful.” As he readies himself for playing a part in Kangana Ranaut’s Dhaakad, battle-lines between the feisty actress and many others might be firmly drawn, he has no hesitation in admitting that she is a great actor.
While he is all for OTT platforms, the magic of watching a movie in a theatre he deems, “is the most romantic thing in the world.” He would have loved to catch up Tenet in the cinema-halls, but with a one-and- half-year-old-son (with girlfriend Gabriella Demetriades), he couldn’t take the chance. The one thing he sorely missed during the pandemic time is the freedom to be out there. In 2021, he so hopes we go back to the normal for, “we were certainly more comfortable in the pre-Covid times.”
You may like to read meanings in the utterance, accompanied with a laugh. But the subtle and understated actor would rather have you infer meanings in his nuanced portrayals which in his two-decade- long inning he has etched aplenty.