Published Verve Magazine, Verve Man supplement, cover story, October 2014
Photographs by Dabboo Ratnani
In 2007, with Saawariya, a fresh-faced actor emerged, with the promise of cinematic style. He was eminently watchable and easy on the eyes. The very fact that he could drop his towel without any inhibitions in his first film showed that he had no awkward reservations and could go the distance. Through the films after, he proved himself to be a commercially viable Bollywood star, dancing like a pro and displayed clever histrionics that can only come from a place that has nothing to do with training, observation, knowledge or practice. It’s inherent, it’s intrinsic and it’s something that makes him the poster child for royal DNA.
Suave and personable, there is a boyish charm that makes it easy for people to get drawn to him. I met him socially, just before the release of Saawariya, and when he discovered that I was involved in the film in a small way, he immediately asked my opinion of the film with tremulous anticipation. It was the launch pad to his dream career, after all. Even then, his soft-spoken voice and sincere doe-eyes made you want to believe.
Rockstar director, Imtiaz Ali, is all praise for the Kapoor: “As an actor, Ranbir keeps his craft craftless. He manages not to impose his personality on the character. That is almost impossible to achieve. He is truly deeply madly passionate about cinema. Anyone would be lucky to work with him.” And his repertoire of varied roles underlines this fact. Rocket Singh (2009) proved that Ranbir Kapoor could take a staid role devoid of glamour and turn it into one of his most memorable performances. Rockstar (2011) displayed the zeal, the aesthetic heights that he could be driven to for a role. Barfi! (2012) established that Ranbir could be given any role, with any disability and he could rip the screen with the sheer power of his performance. It’s that easy for him. It’s that exciting for us as viewers. It is without a shred of doubt that the elusive superstar that people await for decades, even generations, has been delivered in the form of Raj Kapoor’s grandson.
But somewhere along the lines, cracks began to appear on the chiselled persona. He’s the rock star of our dreams and the Hyde of our nightmares. He’s the debonair rakish Willoughby that every ‘good’ girl gets her knickers in a twist for, in a futile attempt to tame. He’s young, at the prime of his game and he must sow his wild oats. Do his personal choices make a difference to his onscreen abilities? Only when he chooses to play the field onscreen, you want to save the haseenas from his grasp.
Fortunately for him, the chinks that appear in the amour are only personal ones, never professional. And after a tumultuous break-up he can continue to woo his ex-girlfriend on screen with as much finesse as he would his latest lady love, as is evident by the massive success of last year’s rom-com entirely lacking in nuances,Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani.
But, his ability to sustain lasting relationships with the same ease he brings to the screen is the question. Is it possible, or fair to expect him to have it all? He promised us a screen hero and never fails to deliver. Must he also give us a persona that we can look up to and admire in real life? It is so rare to find a combination of a brilliant actor and a movie star – one that the masses and critics applaud with equal spirit. May that be enough for us, and may we only hope that the women in his life find peace in being a part of something greater than a person – being witness to Talent.
“My own search for who I am and to make my parents proud, is what drives me. I am very passionate about Indian cinema, acting, directing and producing films. I get to do what I love…it becomes the biggest driving force in life.”
“I don’t think I have ever felt pressure. I felt a responsibility – my family has been contributing to Indian cinema for 80 years and now I have to take that legacy forward, in my own individual way with my own notions, thoughts and choices. Pressure is always used in a negative way; it has positive attributes. So for me it was a responsibility and I had to prove myself within my family.”
“I don’t take tags like ‘desirable’, ‘good-looking’ or ‘bad looking’ too seriously. I always believe that handsome is what handsome really does. If your work is good, everything seems good. I hope to continue doing good work, work with interesting people and constantly surprise myself.”
“You go to work, you come back home, and you switch off and spend time with family, your wife, your girlfriend and your siblings. Family and close friends are really important, that’s what grounds you. The film industry transports you to a place that is not real, so it is really important to get back to your bearings.”