The Aurangzeb actor talks about dating, fitness and hanging out with his superstar Bollywood friends
Just one film old, Arjun Kapoor is not your regular star kid. Sure, he grew up surrounded by all things Bollywood and filmi types, since he is, after all, a big time producer’s son, but he is as non-celebrity as is possible. The lad hasn’t even hired a personal PR person! And as the down-to-earth budding star gears up for the release of his second film, we get down to an exclusive chat with the young actor who has worked hard over the past year on his fitness levels, his acting skills and his new look as a suave gangster. So meet the baddest man - and his double - to be featured on the big screen soon!
Which are your favourite gangster movies?
I have been a huge fan of the genre. Some of my all time favourites are City of God, Scarface, Gangs of New York....the list is just endless. I also loved Ram Gopal Varma’s Company and Satya.
Did you base the gangster that you play in Aurangzeb on some real life person?
I am playing two characters. One is a gangster who comes to take over his father’s throne and the other one is a lookalike planted in place of the real guy. But to answer your question - I never tried to base the character on someone. I didn’t want to get into referencing the character, because subconsciously it plays on your head while you’re performing, if you’ve seen something and it leaves an impression. So I tried to find my own interpretation of it. And that is the beauty of being an actor; it allows you to find your own interpretation of the script or character that is written. Since they feel you can play it, because the director believes you are capable and that inherently there is something within you to play the character, why do you need to look outside for reference? That’s how I like to approach a role. You get to live vicariously through a character. So somewhere maybe if I would have been a gangster, I would have been this negative and this violent, this is how I would have been at another time and place.
But in your own personal life, you hardly live vicariously! You’re known to be a very calm and composed guy. No news on you dating co-actors or anything.....
Because I’m not dating anybody that you know about, I’m calm? I like how you’ve made me a calm person because I’m not seeing anyone! Hey, even if I was, nobody would know about it, because I don’t flaunt things. I don’t like to speak about these things. A gentleman should never kiss and tell, to begin with. The reason your question has come is because I don’t have any personal PR. I don’t believe in that. I believe in my work speaking for me, and I’m hoping it does. Aurangzeb has come a year after Ishaqzaade, and in between if the media doesn’t get any material about me, my link-ups or any controversy, I think that’s a good thing. It means I’m not doing any personal PR. I’m very happy about it. I’m not that kind of person. I am a very private person by nature, and I enjoy my personal space. I don’t lie to flaunt things or be too loud about my shenanigans. I’m not in that game at all!
So who do you hang out with - friends from the film industry?
I hang with Varun (Dhawan) and his brother Rohit. Then Ranbir is a friend. Katrina too is a good friend of mine. Also I and Ranveer are very close, contrary to popular belief. I also know Anushka really well. There are so many friends within the industry. Parineeti - she is a good friend, of course, because we have done our first film together. Alia is now a friend, because we’ve shot together. I guess I’ve grown up in the same lot, so I get along well with most of them. And they all are my age, so we mix well.
About Aurangzeb - with the double role, is it in any way a return to the 70’s?
Well, the film is based in contemporary India. It is based on the land mafia in Gurgaon today. The world is today’s. So when you go into the film, you can imagine that all this is happening right now, as you’re watching. But the way Atul (Sabharwal) has structured the film and the dialogues will give you the vibe of an old school Hindi drama of confrontations. Something like a Trishul or a Deewar, or even Kalyug that was made years ago with Shashi Kapoor. So it has a mix of the old world charm of the dialogue-baazi , the confrontation, the drama unfolding.
But in a more slick manner…
Exactly. So it is set in present day Gurgaon, and that’s where the youth will relate to the film, because today this whole ideology of politics getting mixed with underworld is prominent. The underworld is no longer just in Bombay. It has actually gone and merged with the power nexus that is formed with the political connects in Delhi. And Gurgaon is this ever so cool place that is developing, with so many job opportunities and all. But the underbelly of this still has the black money and the crime. I wouldn’t name names, but there is a real dark side to Gurgaon that we have explored in the film.
And to become a suave gangster, you decided to bulk up?
Yeah, I trained under my personal trainer Adam Gethin for a while, and now I’m training with Harry Ranston.. Adam I worked with for a month or two. And for my recent Men’s Health cover, I trained with Harry. The thing is, with our lives as actors, we don’t get time to think about each and every aspect of things. So having a trainer who is 24/7 with you is a huge relief. It allows you to be stress free for that part. My transformation will hopefully be visible in the Men’s Health cover I recently did. Because for a guy who was 140 kilos, I could only reach a certain level of fitness. But they’ve taken me to a whole new level. And of course I’m going to move on from this too. Fitness and body building is something you’re never satisfied with. Of course, there are good days and bad days in the gym. Also, you can’t sustain it every day. For example, I had a shoulder injury and couldn’t train for two weeks. I injured my shoulder while dancing, so I had to give it a break. But I will start picking up again. There are these phases, carb loading, train volume, reduce volume, etc. So lots of permutations and combinations to see whatever works!
For once being 140 kilos, you’ve really built quite a physique!
Yes, well, most people believe that it is an illusion, me on the Men’s Health cover. They think it is Photoshop or something, but I’m happy to say it isn’t. My body fat has been negligible over the past few months. Now since the last two weeks that I haven’t worked out, it may have increased a bit. But as I said, most people don’t believe that I have done it!
We heard you and Ranveer worked out together on the sets of Gunday. Any gym rivalry there?
(Laughs) When we were in Calcutta shooting for Gunday, we were working out together. There was no rivalry as such between me and Ranveer, even while picking up weights! We were just fooling around. He was doing his own thing and so was I. We were all just working out together and having a ball.
Tell us about the new look in Aurangzeb. What is the feedback?
Everyone has loved the look. The long hair seems to be working for most people. The suited, booted gangster - it almost gives the vibe of a cooler gangster, rather than the regular, run of the mill dark and gritty underworld type. He is more of a bad boy. And when you have a suave looking bad boy, it always makes for good viewing. So I’m quite excited to see how people react to the film as well!
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