Arjun Rampal talks about playing a suicidal, depressed pilot in his first web show The Final Call
'While shooting, I didn’t have anyone to interact with except for knobs, buttons, the sky and the cockpit,' says Arjun Rampal on one of his toughest roles.
In his two-decade-long career, Arjun Rampal has played a variety of roles that range from a brooding musician, to a cunning politician, to an evil film producer. Now, the actor makes his foray into the digital space with ZEE5 web show The Final Call, in which he plays a depressed, suicidal pilot.
Touted to be a psychological thriller and a spiritual adventure, the series is an adaptation of Priya Kumar’s novel I Will Go With You: The Flight of a Lifetime. The 2016 novel examines a group of flight passengers whose captain, a retired Indian Air Force officer with a dark past, has decided to end his life mid-air while on duty, endangering all 300 on board. The show, that was released for streaming on 22 February, also stars Sakshi Tanwar, Jaaved Jaaferi, Harshad Arora and Neeraj Kabi.
This is certainly not Arjun’s first brush with portraying a character with an uncertain moral compass. The actor had achieved critical acclaim for convincingly portraying the manipulative and scheming film producer Mukesh Mehra in Shah Rukh Khan's Om Shanti Om (2007). However, without giving out much about the plot, Arjun says that playing Karan Sachdeva was one of the most difficult roles of his career, especially since the character had to be shown isolated. “The script said the character has to be isolated. So you work on what it would feel like to be isolated and cut off from people. While shooting, I didn’t have anyone to interact with except for the knobs, buttons, sky, cockpit, and we are locked up. I had to go through these gamut of emotions, of guilt, fear, anger, resentment, hatred, feeling sorry for yourself. All these emotions keep coming and then suddenly getting defiant. It was all so exhausting also because I am just seen sitting on a chair. First day when I shot, I found it really difficult. I was wondering how I would do it but it was a great experience. I had already shot my backstory earlier in Kashmir, so there were lot of visuals to feed off,” said the actor.
“Arjun’s is a very layered and complex character. It is an author-backed role for a performer to demonstrate all his acting chops and Arjun was fantastic,” said director Vijay Lalwani. The action portion of the show has been shot by Nishikant Kamat. “There is no physical action but specific shots like the helicopter shot, drone shot or underwater shot for which specialists were involved,” said Lalwani. “It was amazing because Nishikant shot the cockpit portion in London and I was in the same cockpit as Tom Hanks was for Sully. It was a huge inspiration and an incredible experience. We have maintained the show quality. The production value of it is like that of an international show. The writing was kept as edgy as possible,” said Arjun.
“Why I said yes to this series is because it is in the confines of a cockpit. Now who is going to make a movie on this? Nobody is going to put their money into a pilot flying this plane for eight hours and having no conversation though we have the thrill element, emotions and backstory of mine as well as the other passengers. But it lends itself very easily to a web series. It has turned out quite interesting and I think people would be glued. It will be an exciting watch."
Arjun believes in experimenting and making the most by venturing into the booming digital content space. For him, it is a liberating experience. “When you see a platform which is growing so rapidly and hugely, where the audience reach is so much greater and you, as an actor, get to explore your freedom, or as a director, or a producer or a writer, say things what you want to say and do the stuff that you want to do without having any kind of preconceived value, ‘Oh this is too niche, or this is too adult, or this is too violent, or this is too sexy, or this is too preachy.' People have these preconceived notions that this won’t work, or they manipulate the script by putting a few songs, or put one item number which hampers your story telling. Then there is this pressure of film doing a certain number at the box office. Today, a lot of freedom is given to storyteller. It is really a liberating platform. And in any case, I was always conscious about doing work that was very different, playing character-driven parts than just looking at roles which would create star power. I would prefer to work on a script. But it is not that I am not going to do films. I am not changing as an actor but yes, I have to adapt to a new format and change my graph," said Arjun.
Kangana Ranaut will play Sita in The Incarnation, which will be directed by Alaukik Desai.
'I’m constantly figuring out what I’m going to do next': With over 70 acting roles and 45 directing credits, Clint Eastwood, 91, does not want to call for retirement yet.
The seers alleged that Bollywood artistes consume alcohol, eat meat and involve in immoral activities due to which they can never represent pious characters of the Ramayana.