'As an actor you can end up repeating yourself and I don't want to fall into that trap': Aditya Roy Kapur
Post Malang, Aditya Roy Kapur already has two back-to-back projects: Anurag Basu's Ludo and Mahesh Bhatt's Sadak 2.
After playing an alcoholic star-singer in the biggest money-spinner of 2013, Aashiqui 2, Aditya Roy Kapur’s career almost came to a standstill with a string of duds like Daawat-e-Ishq, Ok Jaanu and Abhishek Kapoor’s misfired yet visually stunning romantic drama Fitoor. Even last year, Karan Johar’s Kalank in which Aditya was praised for his restrained performance, failed to work at the box office. His most recent film Malang, which released in theatres on 7 February, opened to mixed reviews and average box office collection. But the actor likes to keep busy and his next two films are already lined-up: Anurag Basu's Ludo and Mahesh Bhatt's Sadak 2.
Excerpts from a chat with the actor:
You've reunited with Mohit Suri and Mahesh Bhatt (director-producer of blockbuster hit Aashiqui 2) for Malang and Sadak 2 (directed by Bhatt).
I have just been excited to be working. Bhatt saab (Mahesh Bhatt), of course, was involved in Aashiqui 2. But being directed by him was a completely different experience. And yes, with Mohit, it was amazing. It's been six years since we did a film together. When we were talking about Malang, he was very sure that we shouldn’t repeat ourselves. We had done a love story which resonated so much and now he wanted to explore the action space with me something that I always wanted do. It is just that because I have done romantic films, people started approaching me only for that. He felt that I could pull off Malang. I felt the same. I have grown up watching action films of Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Van Damme, Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee...I have actually seen their full filmography. I used to make my dad sit with me and do karate and stuff while watching. Later in life I got exposed to good cinema as we think of it. All my close friends told me to explore the action genre as I had the physicality for it and Mohit saw that in me.
Like you said Malang is so different, it is an action thriller and you are seen doing adventure sports in it. What was your reaction when you read the script for the first time? Did you instantly say yes?
I have been involved in this film right from the start, right from the time Mohit had the idea. He narrated it to me and we both felt that we should develop it. We started getting people on board, started writing and began to develop the characters. Mohit and I realised that we partied together some 12-14 years ago in a rave in Goa. So, we decided to set our film in that world which exists but hasn't been explored yet. It is not a made up reality.
The other writers of our film hadn't experienced that. So, we wrote for a while in Mumbai and then, we all went to Goa to spend some time there. We took them to those places and showed them the life that I had lived in my teens for quite a while. Goa was a huge part of my life. I used to visit Goa four to five times a year and just spend weeks there. I love the place and have a strong connection to that place. Ideas started flowing and we developed the film from there. So, I am very close to this film. Aseem (Arora) took all of that and wrote a beautiful script.
How tough was the physical transformation for you for Malang?
Malang has been extremely demanding physically. It was tough to shoot those portions when I am lean. You get to eat very little food and you are shooting tough schedules through the day in the sun while looking good. I had to follow a rigorous, regimented diet. Normally when you are doing a transformation, you put on muscle for which you need at least eight to 12 weeks. I have not built muscle before and I realised that it is tougher than losing fat. I had less than two weeks to do it. While shooting the end of the young portions, I had to slowly start building muscles but not too much as the character would start changing. But, Mohit was very clear that he wouldn't shoot the film if I don't give him the body and build my physique (laughs). I had to work on the transformation to convince the audience that I could beat up people on screen. I treated it as if I am in the army and not shooting a film. Once you change your perspective and treat it as life-or-death situation, you bring out the best in you and somehow, I must pat myself on the back (laughs).
Post Ok Jaanu you took two year break and returned with Kalank last year. What kind of mind space were you in during this sabbatical period?
That was a while ago. I have never been able to bring myself to do something if I am not 100 per cent convinced. It's not that things were not coming my way. It's just that I wasn't feeling excited to do it. But after a while, honestly, I started making peace with the sabbatical. It wasn’t a sabbatical that I had planned that I am going to take off or I am going to disconnect. It's just that it became a sabbatical. As an actor when you know you have something to prepare for, one switch inside you is always turned on because you are excited to create something. But once that was off, I started exploring other parts of life. I enjoyed other things. It was a growth process for me.
When I finally went on the sets after a two-year gap for Kalank shoot, I realised that I was approaching acting differently maybe because I had changed and grown as a person. I took it in my stride. I try and roll with the punches. 2019 was a lovely year for me. I didn't realise how it came and went. I shot and wrapped three films back-to-back. I had no time, I was crazy busy. It was like an antithesis to the sabbatical and as you say when it rains, it pours. I thoroughly enjoyed that as well. I have realised that no one knows what's going to work and what isn't. You should keep working if you like working. I love being on sets. That's the only thing I am passionate about. If I am not getting myself to do that then, what am I doing? It was really nice for me that Kalank released and the next day I was on the sets working again. Then, I was lucky that I got an opportunity to work with Anurag Basu and Mahesh Bhatt. These are the things that you can't let go off. The right things came my way. The stars aligned. I want to be still more busy now. I am happy that I am going to have three releases in six months.
So would you take breaks between films again?
No, I don't think so. But, I think it's healthy to take breaks. I don't know if it's too good for me as an actor to be that busy. It's important to recuperate and come back and be able to bring something new. I don't want to develop a bag of tricks that I keep reaching into and repeating myself. As an actor, you can end up repeating yourself and that's a trap. I don't want to fall into that. I want to find a middle ground.
Characters that you have played so far have had a great emotional curve. You are one of those few actors to open up their vulnerable side on screen. How comfortable have you been to be able to play those characters?
It's part of the profession where you have to be vulnerable and to allow yourself to be transparent. When you give yourself to people that is when you connect with people. It's never like I don't want to show a certain side of me. I think you rationalise it by saying that's not me but the character.
Have you seen any changes in Mohit in the film-making process?
His core remains the same. He is always about emotion. His emotional radar is still as strong as ever. He is still as hard-working as ever, obsessed by his films. He has more experience now and still has the same passion. We tend to forget that he is young but he's a very senior director. He has made 12-13 films and to have the same exuberance…I think films are his life. Of course, he has had two kids now and that has enrichened his life and he has got lot more that he loves but yes, films are everything for him.
How was it working with the ‘youngest’ superstar Anil Kapoor?
(Laughs) Yes, Anil Sir has got so much potential (jokes). I am sure he's going to have a long career ahead. I gave him tips (laughs heartily). His energy is infectious. Even after working for so many years, he still approaches every project with this kind of active madness is amazing. I hope that after so many years of doing films, I have half of the exuberance, energy and wide-eye that he has. He looks at everyone like there's something to learn from them. On the first day on the sets, he asked me what I eat. I told him my diet plan. Three days later he tells me that he was following my diet plan. I was like, 'Sir, you can't be on my diet. I am consuming 1500 calories a day. You will disappear. That's too less for you’. He replied, ‘No, I am feeling very good and energetic’ (mimics Kapoor). He says that he works with young people and wants to learn from them. The ability to see the niceness and something special in someone else is a great ability to have. And despite his seniority, he encourages the director to tell him the truth. There's just too much to learn from him.
You are not on social media and it is only recently that you got on to Instagram. Is it intentional?
I like to disconnect. I like to be on set, and at that time I am active. I am in the midst of public. The switch is on for, say 15 days but I like to completely get away from it. I don’t know if I can be the public persona all the time. I need to be distant from it. It can get too much for me otherwise.
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