There are two things that impress me about Arjun Rampal - his level of patience and a sense of perseverance. Then when you look at his filmography and cut back to the last five years of his in Bollywood you'd want to know what took him so long to get things right? As he says, "I waited". And it is this very wait that has ripened his acting talent so much that today he is a proud achiever of his first National Award for Rock On and the accolades he has been getting for films like Rajneeti and Chakravyuh. So much to say and then someone quotes - 'He is the George Clooney of our industry'. That quote from his Twitter fan comes after his Chivas advert hit online a couple of weeks back. Well my dear friend, all what's missing is the salt and pepper look.
Presenting you the endangered Tiger who has come growling at the box office. Presenting you Arjun Rampal!
When you look back to the last five years, how much of Arjun Rampal has been redefined?
It is a redefined Arjun Rampal for sure (laughs). I don't know how to react like statements like that. Whoever has known me well enough that this was always what I wanted to do. I couldn't have done anything different. Yes, I wasn't satisfied with the work I was getting before but today when I look at my body of work that I've got in the last five years, I seem to have progressed and developed. But patience was the key. I've been working towards it for many years. You've known me for long and you know how much I put in to my characters when I work for a film. All this has come to me only because I waited and never gave up.
With you hitting forty, let me tell you that you are the George Clooney of our industry - ripening and looking dapper with each film.
(Laughs) Am I the next George Clooney? But I will take the compliment in stride. The new Chivas advert was shot by Bharat Sikka and Shimit Amin. They are really good man! We shot the advert in a day and a half in Istanbul. It's about a tough guy who is trying to get things right but it's not working somehow. You have to see the full advert. Wait till it comes out. There was some sort of energy in all of us. Everyone was on the same page and the aim was to make it look like a film.
You have a habit of getting into the characters. But does getting out of it become difficult sometimes?
In D-Day I play a RAW agent who goes undercover. It's a completely different role to what I've played before. It's not easy to get out of the characters. Sometimes it takes even a month to come out of it and I can't jump to another role immediately. For D-Day I was very clear what this guy (my role) looked like and behaves like. His look and appearance had to blend into wherever he travelled in the film. I can't say much at this time but you'll have to wait a little bit longer (laughs).
You've experimented with every genre so far. What's the one genre you're looking to dip yourself into?
I'd love to get into a period drama. I've not done something like that. I want to go in a different time zone. Something in the 1950's or 60's or maybe the pre-Independence era. I would want to do at least one film like that.
In times when people talk about crores than content, where do you see our films going?
I've always believed in not sitting or sticking to any one kind of a genre. It's also a different niche content. But eventually you want to do a film that you believe in. It's the biggest commitment of your life for that period. And then comes trust. There is no way out. Then it doesn't matter. It's the journey for us artists we have to enjoy. Whether it does good at the box office or not is beyond our control. I cannot sit and manipulate and calculate my film does a hundred crores. But if the criteria is to make a hundred crore film, that's not how a film is made. A film is celebrated because a creator's mind comes together to give his beautiful creation.
You're working with Rishi Kapoor in D-Day. You've worked with Ranbir in Rajneeti. Tell us about these two phenomenal actors, their choices of films.
Rishi Kapoor is a phenomenal actor. He has always been. From the films he has done when I was growing up to playing the notorious character in Agneepath to a fun and loveable role in Student of the Year, the range he has is extraordinary. He is playing an infamous character in D-Day too. I think the enthusiasm which Rishi has on the set; he makes Ranbir look like an old man (laughs). He is crazy and lively. Ranbir is definitely having wonderful genes (laughs). I have a lot of respect for Ranbir. He is a dear friend and as a co-actor created, in a very short span of time, at a young age, such wonderful choices of films. It's a risk that no one would take. At a time when he could've been playing a safe game he stood his ground and pushed the envelope, and is still doing it. I don't think Rishi Kapoor would've taken such chances back then.
Sir Ben Kingsley played Gandhi, Irrfan played Paan Singh Tomar, your co-star and friend Farhan is playing Milkha Singh. What would you play if you were to do a biopic?
I'd love to play Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk. It is the most beautiful story and it has to be told someday.