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03-07-2009, 07:55 PM #1
Ranbir Kapoor's Full GQ Interview
Heís more famous for his celebrity family and starlet girlfriend than for his films Ė but heís already being called the face of Bollywoodís next generation.
Just who does Ranbir Kapoor think he is?
Heís been hailed as the new hope of Hindi cinema Ė despite the fact that heís made only two films so far, neither of which has been a hit. Then again, heís a Kapoor, scion of the nationís most extraordinary film dynasty. That might not impress those of us weary of Indiaís obsession with nepotism and dynasties Ė but you might be impressed with Ranbir, a bright, ambitious actor who clearly knows he has to do a lot more than drop his last name to make it in 21st-century Bollywood. In this interview, Ranbir opens up with some refreshingly honest answers about everything, from riding on his fatherís coattails to sex and drugs, to why he really doesnít deserve all the money heís making.
I was going to offer you a cigarette, but I heard you quit.
I did. Trying to, at leastÖ Iíve been smoking for eight years.
I read in the paper that you gave it up for your girlfriend, Deepika [Padukone].
No, I didnít. Thatís just stupid tabloid reporting. I just wanted to check my self-control. I was quite addicted. I was doing like two packets a day.
So, have you been losing your temper and freaking out?
No, no. I donít think I have a temper. I did give some shit to some people close to me. But Iím handling it pretty well so far.
Speaking of tabloid reporting, thereís been all this talk about problems between you and Deepika. Any truth to it?
I hate it when I open the paper every morning and read some article about me and her, about us getting married or me quitting smoking for her. It gets really silly, and it gets embarrassing for my family. There is no break-up. Some paper reported that I was seeing Katrina Kaif. Itís all rubbish. I guess the Indian media is so hungry for gossip and rumour that they jeopardize relationships. But itís fine Ė you just have to learn to live with it.
Listen, Iím considering giving up journalism and breaking into Bollywood acting. As the best newcomer of 2008, what advice can you give me?
Er Ö what advice can I give you? Well, just love movies Ė thatís it. You can take classes or go to acting school, but I donít think any acting institute can teach you acting. Go spend some time on a film set, assist a director, watch actors perform. Thatís the only way.
What do you think my chances are?
Pretty good [laughs]Ö pretty good.
I donít think Iíd rack up the huge number of awards you got for Saawariya.
Well, theyíre debut awards. I donít really think too much of a debut award. Yes, it was special, but I look at a debut award as a sympathy award. There arenít many debuts in a year, especially high-profile debuts. And because I come from a film family, you know, itísÖ Iím happy, but I donít really think too much of it.
Does it worry you that youíre getting this kind of acclaim because of your family?
Absolutely. But I take it as a responsibility. My family has been contributing to Indian cinema for 75 years. And I understand the value of coming from that, but Iím not someone who wants to ride on it. I want to take it forward, make them proud, make a name for myself. The curiosity you create coming from a film family is only for your first movie Ė after that, you have to do it yourself. My grandfather, Mr Raj Kapoor, was a very big star and director. He had three sons, but his other two sons didnít do as well as my father did becauseÖ I donít think coming from a film family guarantees youíre going to do well. I donít believe in genes.
But youíve got to admit that your family background gave you a break you probably never would have got otherwise. What would you be doing if you werenít a Kapoor?
I always say that if I wasnít an actor, I would be a struggling actor. But, yes, because I come from this family I got it rather easy. But at the same time, I think I have my own struggle, my own disadvantages. The pressureís huge, the comparisons are there, expectations are there Ė so the fall will be greater, harder.
But youíre also making a lot of money because of it.
Absolutely. But money was never an issue. Iíve never seen the struggle for money, so I donít know what that feels like. Iím being completely honest with you. You could say Iíve been born with a golden spoon, but thatís not my fault. Iíve been born into this family and theyíve worked hard for me to have it that way. Iím not a star in my own right. I look at myself more as a potential star. You know, people have appreciated my work irrespective of what family I come from. My first film was a big disaster, but I came out of it and people liked my work. I got amazing offers from these really amazing film-makers Iím working with. So things really turned out well for me, and I would like to believe that I had something to do with it Ė that it was my talent which had something to do with it rather than my family. But I donít discard it. It is majorly because of that.
Saawariya didnít make any money, Bachna Ae Haseeno was better but not great. How long are you going to give it before you get a hit? Are you going to do an Abhishek Bachchan and keep going for 15 films?
I understand the importance of commercial success. Without commercial success an actor will always be just a potential actor. Iím really happy with the place Iím at right now. Iím just looking at it like a ladder, taking one step at a time. I donít want to become a Hrithik Roshan overnight. I want to direct movies at some point, I want to produce movies, I want to act as much as I can. I donít know if Iíll be rejected by the audience... I guess Iíll still be trying. I donít think I can do anything apart from the movies.
How much money are you being offered per film now? Rs 5 crore?
Iím quite embarrassed to talk about it. Because of the boom in the industry and because our markets are growing, prices have gone way above that. Today, 5 crore is nothing. You would probably get that for your debut movie. Today, actors are getting offered exorbitant prices like Rs 10 crore or Rs 15 crore. And Iím really embarrassed to say that I am getting offered such unseemly amounts of money.
But I also do understand that I donít deserve so much money. When someone throws such exorbitant figures at me, I do tell them honestly that Iím doing your film because I like your film Ė Iím not gonna do it for money, and itís better that you pay me what I deserve. This is just too much.
Youíve actually told someone that theyíre offering you too much money? Who did you say that to?
Itís a producer Ė I wouldnít like to name them. Itís a corporate house. People are spoiling actors today. You know, if a particular actor gives a super-hit commercial success movie, another actor raises his market price. I donít know how that works. I mean, if youíre delivering the goods, youíre tasting success, then I guess you would gradually increase your market price. But you canít increase your market price because another actor has delivered a hit and you feel that more money is coming into the industry. I donít think you should work that way.
But if the money isnít important to you then why would you do a Pepsi commercial?
Honestly, itís quite silly, but at least 20 per cent of the reason for me being an actor was to do a Pepsi commercial. Iíve always loved that soda. I grew up seeing Shah Rukh Khan being the brand ambassador for Pepsi, and I like being associated with it. Iíve been offered a lot of endorsements, probably 30 or 40, but itís not something that Iím doing for money. Itís more of an emotional attachmentÖ itís moreÖ
For the love of Pepsi?
The love of PepsiÖ yeah.
So what are you going to do with all the money youíre making?
I donít know. Iím not an indulgent person. Iím not fond of cars, Iím not fond of great clothes or watches and all of that. Iíve been born with that, you know? But I do value money. I was living abroad and my parents put me on a very strict budget. They never spoiled me. I was always on pocket money, until Saawariya released. I do like food Ė thatís my only indulgence.
OK Ė more tabloid gossipÖ
[Laughs] Bring it on!
I read that you slapped Katrina Kaif on the set of Ajab Prem Ki Gajab Kahani.
I didnít slap her. We were doing this comedy action sequence which was kind of like a dance. I had to, like, swing her from one hand to the other and hit the goons. Somewhere in that action my elbow hit her nose. It was just an accident. People make a big deal out of it, but it was nothing.
Was she bleeding?
No, she wasnít bleeding. She just caught a cold the next morning Ė I donít know how. I did take her to the doctor and we got an X-ray done and everything was perfect. I did freak out a bit about it and I promised her the next time I do an action sequence, Iíll rehearse for a month before doing anything.
So between the rumours about you getting romantic with Katrina and then hitting her in the nose, should you now be worried about Salman Khan?
No, Iím not. Iím extremely, extremely close to Salman Khan and heís really fond of me also. Our families are really close, and I guess he understands. He understands that if youíre doing a movie with somebody then people talk and thatís pretty much it. He understands that more than any of us. Heís been linked to numerous actresses all his life. There is no misunderstanding or bad blood between us.
How long were you in New York?
I was there for about three and a half years. I went to The School of Visual Arts, a film school. I was there for two and a half years and then I spent a year at Lee Strasberg.
You were 18 when you went to New York. What was the ratio between partying and studying?
Oh, it was all partying, yaar. Honestly, I led quite a debauched lifestyle over there. Itís the first time you taste freedom Ė and itís New York City at the end of it. So it was great, but I guess it also teaches you a lot about your responsibilities, because I realized that I did a lot of things I shouldnít have done.
It could be really embarrassing thingsÖ you know Ė alcohol or drugs or any of that sort. I have done it all, but I think I now have a more balanced idea of whatís important and whatís not important. And how important a career is, and how important your health is, and how important discipline is.
So were you going a bit overboard on the booze and drugs?
I wasnít going overboard, butÖ itís just that I did things which I donít think I should have done.
Can you give me an example? And be honest.
Wow, there are so many! Like I said, it was probably getting drunk, not going to class in the morning, neglecting my work.
Come on, thatís not so bad Ė every student does that.
I think this is as bad as I can say right now. Iíll have to tell you other things off the record [laughs].
So you say youíve done it all Ė letís check them off the list. Marijuana, cocaineÖ ?
Well, there was marijuana...
No, I didnít get in that deep. But there was marijuana, there was alcohol, I started smoking cigarettes.
So you avoided the harder drugs?
Thatís something Iíd never ever touch.
I guess because of exposure. I understand what those drugs do to a person.
Youíve seen people around you doing that stuff?
Absolutely. I have plenty of friends who are into stuff like that. And it never attracted me, I never really longed for such a high.
A lot of movie stars Ė whether itís Hollywood or Bollywood Ė can have trouble keeping their egos in check the more successful they become. How is your ego doing?
You know, thereís a real fine line between ego and self-respect. But I donít have an ego as such. I recently heard a story about this new actress whoís just coming up in the industry. Outside her van, her first name was written, but her last name wasnít, so she just walked off the set and didnít come to the shoot. I find it really funny. I donít think I have an ego. Iím quite easy-going. I donít need a van. I can travel Economy or Business Class. I donít need a First Class ticket.
Do you think youíre always going to be this modest? Or is it because youíre just starting out and youíre idealistic?
Like you said, itís all related to success. I mean, if youíre successful, these things will come to you Ė you donít have to demand them. So why demand it when you donít deserve it? If youíre successful and people are giving you stuff readily, you might as well accept it and come to terms with it. And probably thatíll give you a reason or a motivation to work harder and achieve it. Itís as simple as that.
The more successful you become, the more important your opinion will be on all kinds of things not even remotely connected to films, from the price of onions to Pakistan. So Iím gonna help you get ready for that.
How much is a kilo of onions?
A kilo of onions? I would sayÖ 20 rupees.
Would you favour Indian military strikes inside Pakistan to destroy terrorist training camps?
No, I donít think so. I donít know how thatís going to help. Itís getting back to America, Iraq and all of that. I donít know if thatís the right way to do it. I donít know if there is a way to do anything about it.
Where were you during the Mumbai attacks last November?
I was in India. Iíve actually been witness to two of these unfortunate incidents in the world. One was 9/11 Ė I was in New York at that time. I donít want to make any political statements because I donít think I am anybody to make such a statement. I do believe that itís faith gone wrong. All I can say as a 26-year-old boy living in Bombay is that what happened to my city was totally uncalled for. It was ugly, it was stupid and it did anger me.
You were in Manhattan on 9/11?
Yes, I was on the street. I was going to class when it happened, and it was just insane. My entire school got evacuated, but we didnít know the seriousness of it Ė all we heard was that a plane had gone into the TwinTowers. So we were walking towards the WorldTradeCenter, and when we reached, we suddenly saw one tower fall down. It was really scary being there. Iíd never seen New York City so scared and empty.
OK, letís move on to a less gloomy subject. Did you go to New York a boy and come back a man?
Er Ö No, no. I think I became a man much, much before I went to New York.
OK. So how old were you when you lost your virginity?
I think I must have been 15.
Fifteen! And how old was your girlfriend?
She was 15, too. I was seeing someone really seriously for two years.
You grew up pretty fast.
Yeah, I think so [laughs].
Iím going to offer you a hypothetical choice. Your next film will be a guaranteed super-hit, but only if you give up sex for the next five years. Which one do you want: success or sex?
A super-hit film for sure. For sure.
Youíd give up sex for five years for that?
Absolutely, thatís easy. I guess I havenít tasted a super-hit film yet. If I had done, then I would probably choose the latter, but I am really curious to experience it.
I think your girlfriend is going to be a bit upset with that choice.
Ah, yeah. I guess maybe it is a bit of a selfish choice. But I would still go for the super-hit.
Diesel, True Religion
I have a tailor in Bombay who does a great job with my suits. Savile Row is really good, too.
Interno 8, on Conduit Street in London
Zegna, Prada, Gucci
Myself Ė I really donít understand fashion
Youíve got to admit that your family background gave you a break you probably never would have got otherwise. What would you be doing if you werenít a Kapoor?
I always say that if I wasnít an actor, I would be a struggling actor. But, yes, because I come from this family I got it rather easy. But at the same time, I think I have my own struggle, my own disadvantages. The pressureís huge, the comparisons are there, expectations are there Ė so the fall will be greater, harder
Youíre making a lot more money because of your family name.
Absolutely. But money was never an issue. Iíve never seen the struggle for money, so I donít know what that feels like. Iím being completely honest with you. You could say Iíve been born with a golden spoon, but thatís not my fault. Iíve been born into this family and theyíve worked hard for me to have it that way
So you say youíve done it all Ė letís check them off the list. Marijuana, cocaineÖ?
Well, there was marijuana...
No, I didnít get in that deep. But there was marijuana, there was alcohol, I started smoking cigarettes.
So you avoided the harder drugs?
Thatís something Iíd never ever touch
Did you go to New York a boy and come back a man?
ErÖ No, no. I think I became a man much, much before I went to New York.
So how old were you when you lost your virginity?
I think I must have been fifteen
Heir to the Kapoor film dynasty established by his great-grandfather Prithviraj, the 26-year-old Ranbir Kapoor has dreams of becoming an actor-director
T-shirt, jacket; both by John Varvatos. Trousers by Bottega Veneta. Shoes by Etro
The man with the golden spoon
Kapoor knows how much he owes to his film-family background. But, he says, ďthe curiosity you create coming from a film family is only for your first movie. After that you have to do it yourselfĒ
Shirt, suit; both by Etro
Despite the commercial and critical failure of his debut film, Saawariya, Kapoorís performance was widely appreciated by the industry
Shirt, suit, bow tie; all by D&G
Earn your stripes
Kapoor got his first taste of freedom as an 18-year-old student of film and drama in New York: ďI did a lot
of things I shouldnít have doneĒ
Shirt, waistcoat, suit: all by Paul Smith. Shoes by Etro
His way up
Even with the head start, Kapoor still has a long ladder to climb. But donít expect him to give up anytime soon.ďI donít think I can do anything apart from the moviesĒ
Shirt, suit, scarf, shoes; all by Dolce & Gabbana. T-shirt by Gucci