Speaking from New York City Arjun says, “The other day I was in San Francisco at the Google headquarters where I released the trailer of my film, it was quite an experience because there I was with the most important film of my career at the most vital communication centre in the world.”
Arjun says his film about the cult of gangsterism in Mumbai City is garnering curiosity in the US. “The perceptions on Indian cinema are changing. ‘Bollywood’ is no longer about songs and dances. In the West we were seen to be people who burst into songs on every occasion. That is no longer so. International moviegoers are willing to accept a darker reality in Indian cinema. We don’t have to sing and dance to get global attention.”
It also helps that Arjun Rampal doesn’t look culture-specifically Indian. Women the world over, still go into a swoon at his looks. Never comfortable speaking about his looks Arjun protests, “I am not even looking my best in Daddy. Gawli was not a conventionally good-looking man. But he had tremendous magnetism. Though accused of several crimes he was an enormously popular figure in the Mumbai’s chawl, almost like a messiah. He was known as ‘Daddy’ by the public.”
As though to corroborate the difference Arjun has hired director Aushim Ahulawalia to direct the Gawli bio-pic.
Aushim is no stranger to global recognition. His last and so far only film Miss Lovely captured considerable eyeballs in the West. Arjun admits Daddy is his stab at method acting. “I got Aushim to direct because I wanted a certain international sensibility in the ‘Mumbai of the 1990s’ story. I’ve worked really hard to get Gawli right in Daddy. And I won’t pretend that this is just another film for you. It is very important not only to my career but because it tells about a life that has far-reaching ramifications in the way Mumbai has shaped up today.”
Arjun is aware of how much the bio-pic means to Hindi cinema these days. “There are so many bio-pics being made. Sanjay Dutt, Gulshan Kumar, Sadat Haasan Manto…you name it. I know my interpretation of Gawli will be closely monitored and judged. But I am not afraid. I’ve earned the right to believe in myself. I hope my belief pays off.”
He is going to be in NY for a few days more. “I had a CRY event to attend here which was very fulfilling. And I will be doing something at the Big Apple store for Daddy.”
One thing is for sure. No tacky come-see-my-film shout-outs at malls for Arjun Rampal’s Daddy. “After releasing the trailer at the Google headquarters I have to keep up the marketing momentum on a certain level,” he concedes.