Mumbai: He may look like just another ‘star’ actor in the making — handsome, successful and working hard to make it in the competitive world of Bollywood — but that is just a case in point to show that appearances can be deceptive. It just seems like yesterday when I sat with good friend, Mona Kapoor, the wife of producer Boney Kapoor. He had walked out from Mona’s life but she kept holding it together for her shy, little kids.
A young, obese and introvert boy walked in, mumbled something and slunk out of the room. He was awkward and grew up to be a slightly under-confident teenager at 140 kg — stroppy and hiding the pain of a father leaving home and going away with actress Sridevi. In the earlier years, his parents’ quarrels had frightened him and it all turned out to create an intense, silent boy who is currently a powerhouse performer, Arjun Kapoor.
Trained in his skills, conversant with the fight and dance requirements of Bollywood, disciplined and able to project the right image, Arjun delivered three hits: Ishaqzaade, Two States and Gunday. Aurangzeb got him critical acclaim and even though it did not set the box office on fire, his performance had his characteristic stamp of nonchalant passion that got noticed. The fiery stamp of acting that he has developed comes from all the emotions and life experiences that exist just below the surface.
I watch this powerful, unassuming performer, who chats candidly, unemotionally about matters of the heart and the painful past with interest. “It is important to make peace with reality and find a positive outlet to pain,” he says. Just days before the premier of his first film Ishaqzaade, which Mona had looked forward to so longingly — her now slim, tall, macho son would fire up the screen and all those years of hurt and trial would fade into oblivion — she gave into her fight with cancer.
Arjun candidly admits that even though the pain was so deep, he was unable to cry. “In the days that followed, I found it a waste of time to play the blame game and dwell on the past. Instead, I celebrated my lovely sister, Anshula, and channelised all my energies into work. I find a release in work, perfecting the art, acting and understanding the medium of filmmaking. Unable to let out the angst, I used to work to externalise the pent up pain, and allowed my performances to be the much-needed release for all that transpired.”
His close buddy Ranvir Singh says about him, “He’d take a bullet for a friend.” He’s unusually articulate and words like valour, bravery, never say die attitude define him the best. “I have over the years developed a resolute ability. Mom was a fighter and I saw her battling with life. She always tried to be as cheerful as possible despite so much loss, looking after us and nurturing us. As a result, I grew up having a better understanding of life, and learnt never to put my hands up. Her loss awakened me to reality and we grew up overnight. Anshula and I learnt to look out for ourselves and we became mature.”
These experiences, myriad as they are, come out in his work which is viewed as multi-layered.
“I began to internalise that good and bad things happen to all of us. I do not blame anyone, and have taught myself to find a deeper meaning. I always wanted to be there for mom. I miss her terribly but I now live for my sister, who is my biggest strength. Eventually, you have to develop the attitude of acceptance, take it on your chin, and move on,” he says.
He further adds, “On a personal level, I have had poignancy, which makes me relate to my characters more strongly. I deal with situations organically. I never lay back, brood or even celebrate a hit. I am malleable and understand that to deal with loss and pain, there is no other way out.”
The author is a luxury consultant and lifestyle columnist. You can mail her at email@example.com