Interview: Arjun Kapoor on Gunday, Tevar, and Working With Alia Bhatt

Rashmi Daryanani , 06 Mar 2014
Arjun Kapoor
Arjun Kapoor

A few days ago, while Arjun Kapoor was shooting in Mathurawe had a great phone conversation with him about all his projects – like, the fabulous responses he received to Gunday (he related a super cute incident that you have to hear about), all the good things he thinks about working with Alia Bhatt, and what space his upcoming film, Tevar, is in.

He was disarming right from the start, because when I told him that I only had a few questions and wouldn’t take much of his time, he quipped back with a, “Oh, I was hoping you did so I could speak to you for longer.” Well, the conversation did turn out longer than expected, so read on to find out everything we spoke about! :)

Team MissMalini (Team MM): First up, congratulations for some great reactions to Gunday. How do you feel? What have the reactions been like for you?

Arjun Kapoor (AK): We kind of don’t realise what happens after a film releases, because – at least in my case – I’ve always been shooting after the release. So you don’t realise it until after you talk to the media again. You see numbers, but eventually, those are just numbers. You don’t interact with too many people, because you’re in a vacuum shooting. But it’s a nice feeling. I was in Agra and Mathura shooting, and people over there started screaming and shouting Gunday, Gunday, Gunday. So that’s a good sign – that means it has effectively gone into the heartlands of India, which is what you want when you do a film like Gunday. Like, I went to a wedding reception the other day and I had kids come up to me and say, ‘Tung tung wale uncle.’ Those are things you can’t ever dream of achieving unless it happens organically through a film.

Arjun Kapoor
Arjun Kapoor

Team MM: That’s hilarious about Tung tung uncle, because that song has been stuck in our heads and not leaving!

AK: It just happened randomly because I’ve been for many receptions, sangeets, etc, and everybody comes and praises you and compliments you, because they’ve liked your work at some point. But I’ve never seen this kind of response where people have just dragged me on to the dance floor, taken pictures with me while doing the steps. They were not letting go of me, and I liked that! That’s what you want – appreciation from the audience. And I felt that for the first time at that level after Gunday.

Team MM: So the buzz around 2 States is really good. We’ve been hearing a lot of talk about this film, especially your pairing with Alia since it’s fresh and both of you are young actors. Did you enjoy working with her?

AK: I loved working with her! I find her very unassuming – that’s a very important quality for an actor to possess. I can say that even before I worked with her, I knew she had it in her. She’s fantastic, game to improvise, spontaneous, impulsive, follows her instincts, thorough professional… all the trappings and all the makings of a very fine actor. And she has fun – she’s not bogged down by the so-called, spoken-of pressures that we all are supposed to have apparently… which we don’t realise, until we are sort of spoken to by the media.

Arjun Kapoor and Alia Bhatt in 2 States
Arjun Kapoor and Alia Bhatt in 2 States

Team MM: Have you seen Highway yet?

AK: I haven’t. I’ve been shooting. She’s not seen Gunday, I’ve not seen Highway. That’s a battle we need to have when we meet.

Team MM: You’re currently in Mathura, right? How is Tevar shaping up? What kind of space is this film in?

AK: It’s a remake of a South Indian super hit Okkaduwhich was primarily a love story on the run. As in, a boy and girl who know each other are on the run and they fall in love. This keeps the same thing in mind – the ideology is the same, but the treatment is different. Mahesh Babu is a big star, so that was a very star-driven vehicle. We were very clear from the outset that we’ll make it more character-driven, not so much about pitching Arjun Kapoor ‘in and as’. More about the setting, the characters, and how they respond to the things that happen around them. It’s based in Agra and Mathura, in contemporary, present-day India… in the heartland, where the youth genuinely has a mind of their own. My character is a young boy who is an aspiring kabaddi player, even though his family sees no future in kabaddi. He decides to go ahead and pursue it regardless of what his family feels. That kabaddi tournament ends up taking him to Mathura, where he bumps into a girl and invariably saves her life. Circumstances put them together on the run, and a love story develops while Manoj Bajpayee‘s character is still looking for her.

If I give you a one-liner it may sound very simple, but the idea was to make it more interesting, more well-crafted, slightly more visually dynamic, aesthetically dynamic. So we’ve tried to interpret a South film in a more character-driven way for a change. A young actor has actually never done a South remake; my age-group nobody really does South remakes… so we just thought let’s optimise it in a unique way. We got an ad filmmaker; very talented filmmaker called Amit Sharma. He did the Google Reunion ad, which is really been widely appreciated. We had signed him on even before that happened, so I think we’ve got a director on our hands.

Arjun Kapoor
Arjun Kapoor

Team MM: What was it like working with Sonakshi Sinha on this film?

AK: Great fun! We were in school together; nobody knows that. Nobody knows anything about me, that’s the beauty – everyone assumes I’ve just popped up. That’s the fun part; the assumption that I’ve just appeared in this profession out of no where. Ya, so Sonakshi and I went to the same school together. I’ve known her brothers since I was a kid, and known her since we were very young. We’re actually neighbours in Bombay, so I kept telling her to do a film with me and now it’s finally happened, so I’m happy. She’s a very sweet girl – I always yank her chain, and she’s very sporting about it.

Arjun Kapoor
Arjun Kapoor

Team MM: How does your equation change on sets, since you know each other personally as well?

AK: It really doesn’t. Nothing changed between me and Priyanka; if anything, we became better friends. The same with Sonakshi – there’s such a comfort level that you can actually concentrate on the job you’re doing without ever feeling ‘what is the other person thinking?’ There’s a certain comfort level that comes from organically knowing each other from so many years. I’m very happy that she’s part of this film. I think she’s the absolute perfect choice to play the character that she does in this film. I make fun of her saying that I’m older than you; but you’re my senior so I have to respect you. She’s a thespian in comparison to me, when you think about the work she’s done over the past few years. I’m still new.

Team MM: Yeah, she’s had a great run too!

AK: She’s loved by the Indian public and the audiences, so that’s great.

In Tevar, Arjun works with his dad, Boney Kapoor, for the first time, since he’s the producer of the film. We also asked Arjun what that experience was like, and he told us all about it – read his response in our post here! Plus, he also answers your Twitter questions – and reveals that he may soon join the social networking site! – right here.

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