Rishi Kapoor has been enjoying an eventful 2009 so far. Though he may not quite count movies like Delhi 6 or Kal Kissne Dekha at the top of his list, there have been some really powerful characters that he has played in Luck By Chance and now Love Aaj Kal. As he continues to gather accolades for his memorable performance in Love Aaj Kal that has proved to be yet another milestone in his 36 year long career, Rishi Kapoor talks to Joginder Tuteja about the success of his character Veer Singh, his doubts around the narrative of the film and most importantly, the genuine fondness that he has for Imtiaz Ali who is now sitting pretty amongst the top directors of the country.
Veer Singh has become quite a popular name in the fortnight gone by. A historical moment in your long career.
Yes indeed. The kind of affection and reactions that I have got from the audiences is so reassuring. It makes you believe that you would have done something right to get such appreciation coming your way. Actually if you look at it, in reality it’s the character that has scored so well. Veer Singh had so many of his portions in the film’s flashback and all credit to Imtiaz’s perception of the character that made it all happen. The love story of this Sardar was loved and even though there was Saif playing the younger version, I am happy that at the end of the day, Veer Singh is being remembered.
Working with Imtiaz must have been a unique experience considering the fact that he was perhaps born when you started playing male leads.
I must tell you that he is one boy who has a great soul. Isme jo khuddaari hai woh dekhne laayak hai! Otherwise there are so many people in the industry, both young and old, who don’t even wish you while passing by, let aside respecting you. And here was this boy, with a super-successful film like Jab We Met behind him, who was still so cultured and balanced.
I must tell you that Imtiaz is one boy who has a great soul
You seem to be really impressed with him.
I have never spoken about this earlier but there is this one particular incident that happened during the making of Love Aaj Kal that still gives me goose bumps. We were all in London and it was the first day of my shoot. I was in my hotel room and getting ready to join everyone on the location. Suddenly I heard a knock on my door and found Imtiaz standing there. I thought that he was there to discuss a scene.
So what really happened?
Believe it or not but he just touched my feet and asked for my blessings. No, it’s not that I suddenly felt great or big to have a director touch my feet. What struck an emotional chord with me was the fact that this boy was all earnest and honest when he asked for my blessings. He could have done so in front of the entire unit before the shot but he chose to do that in private. That shows the true character of Imtiaz.
Imtiaz touched my feet and asked for my blessings on the first day of the shoot of Love Aaj Kal
You sound really emotional.
Yes, I am. In fact I remember calling up Neetu then and there and narrating the incident. She was just quiet when she heard that. Of course she too got emotional thereafter. Imtiaz is such a nice boy. (Laughs) I have given him a pet name of Imli by taking the first two letters of Imtiaz and last two from Ali.
The film has now released and done some great business over the last 10 days gone by. Still, while working on the film, did you ever have doubts around it’s acceptance amongst the audiences?
Honestly speaking, I did use to ask Imtiaz what I was really doing. Since I had all my portions shot at a stretch during those 10-12 days of shoot, I was just aware on the script level that later younger portions from the film would also be incorporated in the narrative. Still, I questioned Imtiaz if this may become confusing for the viewers. He assured me that it won’t be the case and asked me to trust him. I am glad that I did that because results are there on front of you.
I questioned Imtiaz if this may become confusing for the viewers
Being a Punjabi yourself, you must have shared your views around approaching the character though?
Yes, I did. I wanted more ‘Punjabiyat’ in my character. However, Imtiaz wanted Hindi to be forefront rather than Punjabi. He was looking at catering to all kind of audiences on a global scale. Not all of them follow Punjabi. Moreover his logic was that since Veer Singh has been in London for quite some time now, he would be speaking more of Hindi than Punjabi. When I look at the way audiences are reacting to Veer Singh, I am convinced that he was right.