|Ram Kapoor with Saqib Saleem in Mere Dad Ki Maruti
When t2 met Ram Kapoor at the YRF studio recently, the actor was busy annihilating a vegetable sandwich in between promoting Mere Dad Ki Maruti. It also happened to be his 10th wedding anniversary but the fact that he was away from his wife Gautami didn’t worry him too much. “I am very clued in about these things. Last night I got her a big rock. So, she’s said I can do what I want for the next five years!” he says with a laugh.
As he polishes off the last of the sandwich, he sobers down and says, “Okay I am kidding. But I did plan it well because I knew that I would be working today. I organised a dinner with our closest friends. We had an awesome time, exchanged gifts and said our ‘I love yous’. As soon as I am done with you, I am going home for a quiet dinner with her and the kids.”
Over to Ram, between his sandwich and his dinner.
You have a personal connection to this film’s storyline, right?
Absolutely. Pretty much everything my son is doing in this film, I have done as a teenager. Other than the fact that this is a Yash Raj Films project, that is what attracted me to the project. It is a very relatable story regardless of what part of the country you are from. It is a typical father-and-son dynamic. A father’s demands are very different from his son than from his daughter. A son has to do a lot to prove himself to his father. While I was growing up, as far as my father was concerned, I could do no right and my sister could do no wrong. She was treated like a princess and still is!
What kind of a relationship did you share with your dad?
It was a tortuous relationship. I thought my dad was too strict and too demanding. I just couldn’t please him. Even after I became an actor, it took me almost a decade to earn his respect. Today we are buddies. But it has been a long journey. While I was a teenager, I was an idiot who should have never been born, and then when I wanted to act, it was another bone of contention. Dad thought I wanted to be an actor only because I was qualified to do nothing else. After I slogged it out and reached where I have, he now has to give me the respect.... But to be fair to him, I did everything he didn’t want me to do. I dropped out of college, didn’t do an MBA like he wanted me to, stole and banged up his car — like I said, I was a lot like the teenager (played by Saqib Saleem) in Mere Dad Ki Maruti.
What kind of a father are you?
I am a madcap father. My daughter (Sia) is seven and my son (Aks) is four years old. When I am with them, I become like them. As they grow, I hope to be the kind of father who is their buddy, who they can confide in. Like I would want them to have their first cigarette or drink in front of me. But if the situation arises where I need to become a disciplinarian, I am sure I will.
You have a very successful TV show with Bade Achhe Lagte Hain and you continue to do a couple of movies every year. How easy is it to straddle the two worlds?
If I am on a TV set, I am focused on being quick and efficient. I have to deliver as per the deadline. There isn’t much time to discuss or experiment. On a film set, you can analyse, plan and think about your character. It’s not difficult for me to switch between these two worlds. In a month, I shoot 15 days for TV and the rest for films.
Some social networking sites were abuzz recently with why you work so hard given that you are really rich!
(Laughs) I find this hilarious. Why do Mr (Amitabh) Bachchan or Shah Rukh Khan work as hard as they do? For people like me, and I’m sure this is true for a lot of people, it’s work that drives us. Whatever money that is coming in is good but to be honest, I don’t have the time to enjoy the perks. Our families enjoy it. No matter how rich I am, it’s no reason for me to stop working until I reach retirement age. I have never chased money, I chase the lifestyle. I was spoilt by my parents and I would like to continue living that lifestyle and I want my children to have the same privileges.
Define the lifestyle...
I believe in working hard and partying just as hard. I enjoy
seven-star holidays with my family. Three or four times a year, I holiday with my family and no expenses are spared, whether we are in Maldives or Las Vegas. The family just goes nuts.
Your weight is also a much-discussed subject online. Does it bother you?
I am very comfortable with who I am. And I think it’s one of the reasons why the audience has accepted me. I am very happy being compared to an Amjad Khan or a Sanjeev Kumar who were overweight all their career and still earned so much respect. Having said that, being fat is not cool. I have repeatedly said that I would want to lose weight for my health and my children. For my career, luckily, I don’t need to. I am getting good work just the way I am. I don’t want to be the coolest-looking guy in the room. I don’t want a six-pack. I am happy indulging in food and living my life till the point I have to do something about it because of my health.
You said in an interview that you think your weight is your lucky charm...
I am not a superstitious person. But for a long period of my career, I was really fit. I had a six-pack. But my career went nowhere. Look at me today. There are thousands of very fit actors in the industry but name five who look like me. If someone wants this (points to himself) personality, size and dynamic, there aren’t so many people out there.
But don’t you think your physicality limits the kind of work you are offered? Hasn’t it aged you before your time?
Probably, but it doesn’t matter to me. A character actor’s career lasts a lot longer than a leading man’s. A hero after 40-50 will have to become a character actor. Today Anil Kapoor or Mr Bachchan are character actors. Very soon, the Khans will have to become character actors. But I can go on to 70-80. If I am good, I will continue to get work.
Ekta Kapoor recently said ‘For women TV audience, Ram Kapoor is the TV version of Katrina Kaif’. So people are now talking about your sex appeal!
The popularity of Bade Achhe Lagte Hain has gone through the roof. I don’t understand it when people say that I am hot or sexy. I can understand if someone talks about my personality or acting skill but good looks... (laughs). Ekta was referring to the fact that clearly women like looking at me.