Arjun Kapoor on Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar: 'Film is about people you may've missed while standing at a subway'
Arjun Kapoor calls Dibakar Banerjee’s filmmaking process tough yet a “personal milestone” in his career.
After a long wait and multiple delays, the Dibakar Banerjee directed crime-drama Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar (SAPF), one of the earliest casualties of the COVID-induced lockdown last year, will finally see the light of day a year later, on 19 March. A chase story and a black comedy thriller SAPF has Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra as the titular duo on the run. “Any film getting delayed or stuck due to certain circumstances…you are never happy as an actor but every film has its own destiny and you have to respect the people involved in taking the best possible decision and putting the film out there. I am very proud of the film and my performance and all I can say is better later than never,” said Arjun Kapoor in an interview with Firstpost.
Over his nine-year journey in Bollywood, Kapoor has often tried experimenting with his roles. He has played a lover boy, a negative character and a house husband among others, and in SAPF he plays a Haryanvi cop Pinky Dahiya, “To play a Haryanvi cop in a Dibakar Banerjee film is the antithesis of a Hindi film cop in its purest form because he is internalised and a conflicted character. He is not somebody who is fond of the job and does not look at the uniform as something that he wears with honour. Pinky is almost reluctant about the position he has been in for many years,” says Kapoor about his character.
He furthers, “It is quirky, it has plenty of twists and turns but at the end of the day the film is about people that you may have missed while you were standing at a subway station, or while waiting to catch a cab, they may be with you, around you and in your vicinity but what happens when ordinary people are put in an extraordinary situation is the film all about. A lower-middle-class man is stuck with a slightly upper middle-class girl…both coming from different walks of life, different upbringing, different thought processes and belief systems but one common circumstance that they have to be together to survive.”
Dibakar Banerjee was always on Kapoor’s wish-list. “I was dying to work with Dibakar. I had put his name on the wish-list when Aditya Chopra had asked me to make a list of 10 directors I wish to work with. I could not have imagined that Aditya would make a film with Dibakar and I would be a part of it. He is somebody that needs to be experienced,” says the actor.
Known for films such as Khosla Ka Ghosla, Love Sex Aur Dhokha and Shanghai, Banerjee says he was not interested in exploring the dynamic of a typical relationship between a man and woman, in SAPF, "The thought was to look at gender in a way we hadn't looked at before. I was not really satisfied with the template of a typical relationship between a man and a woman,” said the director. Ask him if in his attempt to make something twisted on gender and patriarchy the names are flipped with the female lead called ‘Sandeep' while the male protagonist is called 'Pinky'. “No, there is no twist there. A lot of women in Punjab are called Sandeep and a lot of men in North India are nicknamed Pinky,” he says. However, the twist in names had got Kapoor excited. “Actually, that is one of the first reasons why I got intrigued, I was quite excited about the fact that I was getting to play a character called Pinky,” says Kapoor.
The actor calls Banerjee’s filmmaking process tough yet a “personal milestone” in his career. “When we got into doing this film he made us realise that I won’t be prepping with Parineeti and nor would she prep with me which actually took the pressure off because rather than thinking about a scene it became more about building character. Then, three months went in prepping for that role, for the dialect. I would converse with both, the coach as well as Dibakar in that dialect and by the end of it, I reached a point where it became second nature to me,” says Kapoor.
He continues, “Further, the director wanted to understand what I have been through in life, what is going on in my mind.. to tap the resources I have to play Pinky in those silent moments. He asked me a lot of questions that I can ever imagine a director would ask the actor. He then took me to Delhi where we met cops and ex-cops and people in and around where my character is based. They gave us insight into the world where cops have to co-exist with society. Then I went for police training and it was fascinating because you have seen our Hindi film heroes, you're used to seeing them picking up weapons, shooting, firing bullets but the real-life situations are far more difficult. It’s overwhelming because you realize the kind of effort that goes into becoming a cop.”
SAPF marks Parineeti and Arjun's third film together after their debut Ishaqzaade (2012), and Namaste England (2018). And it was their off-screen camaraderie that helped them sail through the aggression and violence that certain scenes demanded. “We picked up from where we left off and that is how it is between her and I. Dibakar could even keep us apart for the prep and once we were together we were constantly joking and fooling around. Yes, you do need that comfort level with your co-star and there were moments in this film where we had to put 200 per cent energy into the scene. Now because I have done it with Parineeti I would say, ‘Yes it did need that comfort level’ but again there is a certain excitement in doing in an unknown situation where the relationship is as unknown,” says Kapoor, who has Sardar Ka Grandson' releasing on Netflix this summer, Bhoot Police releases in September, and he will start shooting for Ek Villain 2 in April.
As far as violence is concerned, the actor says that both he and Parineeti made sure that they didn’t make each other uncomfortable, or were caught off guard, or were in a situation where they would hurt each other. “There is a moment where I got slapped a lot by Parineeti. I was prepared for my share of violence and when it came to me getting violent with Parineeti we had to be careful, we had to speak a lot, it is not that you just go and improvise on set. Or that sequence where I choke her..she had to make me realise when to let go even in the middle of the performance if she was not feeling comfortable. I think that comfort between me and Parineeti helped because we have been through a film like Ishaqzaade which had a lot of rugged action and hence physical aggression in Sandeep Aur Pinky..didn’t bother us too much,” he concludes.
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