After Two States, Arjun Kapoor is once again seen in Half Girlfriend, which is a screen adaption of Chetan Bhagat’s book. The film is directed by Mohit Suri and stars Shraddha Kapoor; the actor speaks about his film, relationships, his future projects and family.
How did you work on your character?
When I read the script, it seems conventional because of the trapping of the story being in Hindi. But it is not a conventional character because he is not a typical Bollywood hero in his behaviour. He is underconfident. I wanted to play it as real as possible. Circumstances and the choices makes him a hero. I wanted to invest enough time at the place where he hails from, Bihar. I spent time with my diction teacher, friends that I have in fraternity, tried to understand body language, mannerisms. Why people perceive it a certain way, what is the reality and fiction about the region. I think it is important for you to understand that place before you project it on screen. I did not want to make it as caricature I took the onus to see that. Any Bihari should feel proud once they watch my character on screen. Basketball is one of the section in the film but it was necessary as this is what he loves and helps him get the admission in the college, connect to the girl.
How was it working with Mohit Suri?
I have always been an admirer of Mohit. I have seen his work before I became an actor. It is his twelfth film at this age. His command over the craft is amazing. He is like a child, spontenous, emotional, impusive and passionate. His films have passion and emotional connect. He loves his music as it tells us a story. He is the most collaborate director one could have. He would ask me what you think about this scene. He gives you foundation that you are lot more that what you believe in yourself. He doesn’t mind you trying different things. Spending time with the director was also important for me as I have not worked with him.
Was there any theory for not reading the book Half Girlfriend before signing the film?
I had not read Two States when I signed that film. I read the script and said yes to it. My director then told me not to read it because it would have confused me, as he had made changes in it. I respected that. I felt clear enough after reading the script. With Half Girlfriend also I read the script because it was offered to me as a bound script. If there would have been a requirement to read it then Mohit would have asked me to read. It never came up as a conversation that it is necessary for me to read it. You can say it is superstition because I did not read Two States, so I decided not to read this.
Some people have criticised your diction in the film...
It is completely fine .Opinions are always going to be there. I think best people to ask, are people who hail from that area. We are not trying to make a caricature of Bihar. We have tried to keep Hindi as clean as possible. It is a certain lehja that he catches. There are different phases of his life in the film, he comes from a village, then city takes over him and then at one point he reaches New York. So again he goes through a transition. When he is with friends he talks differently, with the girl he talks differently. Two and half minute trailer is not a fair gauge. I have got some positive feedbacks also. I welcome and respect all opinions. Please go and watch the film and then decide. I have never been scared of criticism as long as it is justified.
What is your take on about the film glorifying stalking?
In our film, he doesn’t stalk her as they are in a relationship. He goes to find her. They become friends and develop a bond but circumstance does not allow it to culminate into something concrete. Cinema is the medium of entertainment first. Education comes from school, upbringing. Behaviour is not defined by the movies which you watch. It shouldn’t be. Our education system should be that strong. Culturally you should not be influenced by movies, if we take that onus upon yourselves then what will education system do? Then they are failing. Fair enough we have influenced because culturally we are influenced by cinema. But nobody points out positive influences, which is sad. We have a lot of positivity which we spread through films. I think glorification is not intentional, in case of Badrinath Ki Dulhania; it could have been an attempt to humour may be, as I have not seen the film. It is a nok-jhok when girl is reciprocating to a guy. When you see a film like Darr, it is shown that the end is not good for you. So the moral of the story is different. It is a broad perspective and spectrum of conversation. You cannot just blame Hindi film industry. We are very proud of good things we do. We just show the stories where some people well, some people are bad. Cinema always depicts reality in a cinematic way. We are part of the society as much as everybody else. Responsibility predominantly lies in the education system.
Have you ever found yourself in a helpless situation at any point of time in your relationship?
My reasons to receive a rejection were different. I could never gather courage to tell her what felt. There was a girl my life and we had that bond and connect. I wholeheartedly felt that the only thing for me left was to ask her out and make her my girlfriend, so that you can give a tag to a relationship. By the time I decided to tell her my feelings, it was her birthday and I thought it would be the right time. When I was about to approach her I saw her coming with a guy. I thought he must be her brother. She introduced me to him saying that he was her boyfriend and he asked her out the same morning. So the day I gathered courage to kind of take the relationship at another level, she didn’t feel that way about me. She never knew what I felt. I felt all the emotions of heartbreak of a jilted lover. I was 18 years old; I heard sad songs, stayed awake late nights, I gave her a couple of missed calls. I tried to get over it by deleting her number. I did all the clichéd things which any 18 year old would do.
Whose criticism or opinion matters to you most in the family?
I think my sister Anshula is very honest. Her opinion always matters to me. So when she is doing it, she is not doing it with intent to put me down. My father is someone who is critical of my work; he always tries to tell me negative over positive. That is good. In general I respond well to criticism. I never let it bog me down. I try and learn something from it.
How was the reaction of the family when Sonam got the national award?
For you to gratify and given a chance as an actor on the platform like National Awards, it is a proud feeling. It is for all the hardwork which she has done. It is very well deserved, she did amazing job in an amazing film. That performance of hers will always be registered in the memory thanks to the Government, which has appreciated her. You want to leave a legacy behind, no matter how big or small your career is. I think she has ticked mark the box of having done a film which will stand the test of time. I am happy that her hard work is recognised along with the film.
How was it working with Anil Kapoor in Mubarakan?
I have done a family film with a family member, it is a comedy film and to have Anil chachu part of it was great. I have just done with it and I cannot believe it is over. I wanted to do comedy but wasn’t getting right opportunity. This one Anil chachu heard and called me to say that this role is perfect for you. That gave me confidence, I enjoyed doing it. He had worked with Anees Bazmee. I ended up having a blast.
How do you react to your link up rumours?
I keep doing my work. I believe in listening to everything but do what I want.