Arjun Rampal, who completed 15 years in the industry, has tasted success, and even more, failure, in his career. The actor, who will soon be seen in ROCK ON!! 2, opened up about his movie character, music, Shraddha Kapoor, future projects and more.
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
You are returning to the ROCK ON!! franchise after a long time. So how challenging was it for you to continue your character Joe in the film?
It was challenging just to make the sequel. That's why it took 8 years for ROCK ON!! 2. We always thought that definitely there could be a sequel to the first film. We left it like that in the first film but we just couldn't get a story around it for the next. It was important to figure out when the story came to me finally – that where is Joe at this point of time in his life and what's the difference in him. The characters are the same but the situations have changed. It took 8 years to come up with a sequel so we wanted to show what happened within that span. They had a nice take on Joe in this film. You will see him in a totally different light. He has achieved quite a bit in his life now and you will see how music brings back some nostalgic memories to him.
Was it difficult for you to get back into that zone after eight years?
I thought it would be difficult but I swear to God, once I came back together with the team, it just happened within three days and we were once again those characters. Of course, Joe has changed a lot in this movie. But his core is still the same.
What do you think about the new members in the Magik band?
Initially I felt that I don't know how this girl (Shraddha Kapoor) is going to fit in because she is from a totally different generation and that's what the film is all about. It's about this girl who comes in from a different generation and joins this band to find herself. I was wondering how Shraddha would do it when the makers told me that they have signed her. I had no idea at that point of time since I haven't seen many of her films nor had interacted with her. But when I heard what she had done with her vocals and the way she had sung, I felt it was so incredible.
It's amazing to see this new generation of actors. They are so focused in their work. Shraddha has been a huge fan of ROCK ON!! We spent a lot of time together in Shillong while shooting. I got to know her really well and she is a perfect band member. She's unbelievable. She has a great screen presence and is super confident. She is very well mannered and hard-working.
How do you see the band culture in India. Do you think it's fading away?
No, in fact I think it's getting revived. It had faded away. Earlier, there were music videos being made. But later, they were totally taken over by the film industry. You are so used to the song and dance routine in films. But now things have changed. There is a market opening up for Coldplay and a film like ROCK ON!! which triggered back the concept of bands in fashion.
What was your wife's reaction when she watched ROCK ON!!?
She loved it. She loved the whole dynamics which I and Shahana (Goswami) shared. My wife got very emotionally moved when she saw ROCK ON!! She was really happy with my performance.
Do you think you will be able to recreate that magic once again in ROCK ON!! 2?
There was a freshness to the first film. If we are getting the same reaction for this sequel then I think that means we are making the same film again. It's not the same. ROCK ON!! 2 is more about finding the characters 8 years later. When we did ROCK ON!!, there was no Instagram or Twitter. Now you have these social networking sites. So, there is also an influence of the technology on people. The new generation has a very different attitude. I wasn't like Shraddha when I was of her age. We were not those people. The characters in ROCK ON!! 2 are still friends but the story is more about this generation gap and how music bridges this difference.
Your character in ROCK ON!! was one of the strongest ones. Do you think Joe is going to surpass all the characters once again?
No, I don't think so, honestly because this film is not about Joe. The first film was about him. This film is more about the two generations. Of course, you will find him and he needs to be there because he is a very important character. But, there is a much bigger puzzle to the whole thing. When you grow older you don't have conflicts with other people, instead you have it with your own self.
Arjun, the music of ROCK ON!! 2 hasn't been able to weave magic like the previous flick. What do you think about it?
I understand where it comes from. That's because there's some really great music that has come out and you have so many films releasing every week. You had AE DIL HAI MUSHKIL which had some phenomenal sound track and there was SHIVAAY. These two films kind of hogged the limelight. But I will tell you something – even the music of ROCK ON!! wasn't topping the musical charts before the release. It only happened after the release of the film. Earlier too we had got the same reaction for ROCK ON!! I am not worried about the music. I know the album of ROCK ON!! 2 is phenomenal. But trust me, once people see the film, they will have a different vibe for the music. What happens with rock music is that there is no situation. It's always a concert. You will understand what's happening in the concert and you will start relating to these characters only after watching the film.
You have completed 15 years in Bollywood. How has your journey been and are you happy with the way your career has shaped up and the choices that you made?
I am just happy that I am still here, 15 years later *laughs*. It's such a crazy industry that we are surviving in. I have been very fortunate and should thank my stars that I am still here and getting good work to do. I am continuing what I love to do and be a part of this industry that has given me so much. I am very grateful that I am still here. The journey has been like how it's going to be for the next 15 years. It's going to be a roller-coaster ride. You are always going to feel different emotions and it's nice to feel that. It keeps you young, alive and on your toes. It also keeps you healthy and your imagination going.
How much does success and failure matter to you since your last couple of films didn't do well at the box office? How do you tackle failures?
Success and failure are like husband and wife. The guy who made the light bulb, Thomas Edison, imagine how many bulbs he must have blown to make the final light bulb and with every light bulb that he blew he only learnt how to make the right one. Every failure teaches you how to go closer to your goal. The most important thing in your life is to have a goal. In my case, I want to be remembered for nice films, good films, have quality in my cinema, be known as a versatile actor and surprise my audience. Yes, it's not an easy path that I have chosen. I will have many failures. But the ones that will be successful are the memorable ones you get absolutely right and they will be remembered.
How are you planning your career from now on? Will you be doing more ensemble films or solo ones?
It depends on the script. Like, after this I have KAHAANI 2 coming up next. I really liked the vibe of that film and knew that I would love to be a part of it. I hope the audience likes it. Then, I am doing a biopic called DADDY. Also there is AANKHEN 2 which is again an ensemble film. I haven't had a release since a year because I didn't want to do a film as I wasn't liking anything that was coming my way.
Do you have any regrets in your life?
Not really. I guess it's been pretty nice for me. I wished earlier I had understood faster how things worked in this industry.
Is there any film that you rejected then and feel now that you should have taken it up?
Honestly, I think it happens. Sometimes you take the wrong decisions. When somebody approaches you for a film, you don't know what you are thinking at that point of time. You might be thinking too much or too little of yourself. You take a decision and the film goes on to do well. But that film may not have done well if you were in it. That's the way I look at things. Every film has its own destiny. It's a very strange thing. How people get attached to it and what it does to them. When I did ROCK ON!!, I never thought I would win a National Award. I just thought of that film as a fun experiment. I am sure Abhishek Kapoor must have approached other people for Joey's character before he came to me and it finally landed up in my lap. Thank God, it did because then maybe ROCK ON!! wouldn't have been the film that it turned out to be.
How do you look at the current lot of young actors?
I think that are very focused and extremely talented. They are very clear about their goals. The best thing about all of them is that they are experimenting with their roles and getting into the skin of their characters. I really like watching Ranveer Singh. He is fun and a really good actor. Alia Bhatt, Shraddha Kapoor, Varun Dhawan… they are really good.