Me Tom, she Jerry

I don’t think I can live a life without Katrina being around.... We are like Tom and Jerry — Ranbir Kapoor gets candid with t2 over coffee 

  • Published 8.07.17
Ranbir Kapoor with Katrina Kaif in Jagga Jasoos, releasing on July 14

Widely hailed as the best actor of his generation, Ranbir Kapoor has largely lived up to expectations. In the decade since his debut film Saawariya released, the actor has constantly sought out films that haven’t been run-of-the-mill. Some like Barfi! worked and some like Bombay Velvet didn’t but that hasn’t stopped the 34-year-old Kapoor beta from continuing to take risks. 

His next is Jagga Jasoos, a film so long in the making that it had become a joke of sorts. Directed by Anurag Basu who made Barfi! with Ranbir, JJ is described as a “musical adventure that’s for all ages”. 

t2 met Ranbir earlier this week in the basement banquet hall of Taj Lands End in Bandra. Ranbir was guzzling down cups of black coffee — there were empty cups, along with a half-eaten plate of fries and mini cheesecakes on the table next to his chair — to help him get through a day of back-to-back interviews. But, as always, the actor was soft-spoken and thoughtful about sharing how frustrated he was about Jagga’s delay, what makes his soul happy and why he is a “terrible” producer. 

Just about a week for the release of Jagga Jasoos... how are you doing?
I am well. I am just trying to motivate myself to promote the film. I find it really hard to constantly sell the film and talk about myself. At the same time, I am really proud that I am involved in this film and not just as an actor, but also a producer (Ranbir makes a debut here with his Picture Shuru Productions). I am proud that (Anurag) Basu and I have made a film that we really wanted to make. That is success for me. I hope the audience gives the film a shot. I can’t do more than this. I have made 14 films over 10 years, but I still can’t predict if a film is going to do well or not... but I am satisfied with the film. 

I did lose my patience. I did give up on the film. I had many fights with Dada (Anurag Basu). Dada is an amazing person. Everyone in the unit loves him so much that they really surrendered to him and they had patience with him. For three years, this film is all he has focused on. That kind of passion and persistence is admirable.... This is Dada’s process. He is a mad man but he is a genius!

The film has taken three years to make. As an actor how did you keep yourself motivated and not give into some of the negativity that surrounded the film?
I did lose my patience. I did give up on the film. I had many fights with Dada (Anurag Basu). Katrina (Kaif, his co-star in the film) and I had constant conversations about whether we should shelve the film and move on. But we would keep going back to that feeling of when Anurag narrated the film to us. He told us a story that he wanted to tell. It was a story that was endearing and high-energy. Of course we didn’t expect it to take the time that it did. That was unfortunate.

When the audience sees the film, they won’t care that it took four years or three months to make this film. If the film engages them, there will be no greater joy. What kept us going was the purpose to tell this story. 

Also, Dada… you’ve met him… he is an amazing person. Everyone in the unit loves him so much that they really surrendered to him and they had patience with him. He is not lazy. He was doing his job. For three years, this film is all he has focused on. He could have made something else in the meantime, but he didn’t. That kind of passion and persistence is admirable. 

You made other films in these three years. When you have such long gaps in filming, isn’t it tough to continue loving the character?
It was very hard. I had a similar experience with Barfi! with the same director. That film took two years to make. And I hated it! I didn’t know what I was doing. I was insecure about playing a deaf and mute character. I didn’t have any major dialogues, songs or action sequences. I didn’t know what was going on with the film. When you make a film with Anurag Basu, he takes on the responsibility to make your work look good. He creates your performance through his storytelling, his camera, the music… I saw Barfi! a week before it released and I was pleasantly surprised. The credit of that performance goes to Basu. The challenge of working with him is that it takes time and you have to be patient, but he does the work for you.

What helped you get back into character for Jagga every time? Was it the hair or the glasses?
I usually use one perfume for the duration of a film. That smell connects me to a character. Also, of course the hairstyle is really different and the glasses really helped because I have not worn glasses in any film before this. Once you get into costume and you see Dada’s energy on set, you automatically get back into character. It’s like doing a TV show… if this was TV show, we would have been in Season 3! (Laughs) 

It wasn’t challenging to get into character. What was difficult was to stay patient. I used to be embarrassed to tell my friends that I was shooting Jagga... I used to lie! I would tell them that I was shooting for something else. Everyone would tell me, ‘Just finish this film now’. My father (Rishi Kapoor) was on my case. He would say that it was irresponsible to make films like this and that as a producer, I should have more control over the film. But I couldn’t do anything. This is Dada’s process. He is a mad man but he is a genius! 

What perfume did you use for Jagga Jasoos?
I used a very light one called Eight & Bob. It’s a very old fragrance. Like for the Sanjay Dutt biopic, I used something musky and macho. He uses this Oud that I actually robbed from his house! It doesn’t smell too good. It’s very strong and musky. As soon as I wore that perfume, it helped me get into character. 
I think my sense of smell is my most favourite sense. I like smell… more than sight, taste, feel or sound. 

The film is all about an adventure. Tell us about a real-life adventure you’ve been on...
To be honest, I am not an adventurous person. I live a very isolated life. I like living within the confines of my own house. I watch movies, play PlayStation or football. I have never been on a road trip or gone on camps when I was in school. Thankfully, I get to live vicariously through my movies. I am not an adventurous guy. 

I read somewhere that you are pretty adventurous when it comes to food....
Yes... that I am! Food is my topmost priority. I don’t think anything makes my soul happier than food. I would like to say love but I think food is higher than love! Food makes my soul happy. My family is so passionate about food. My father, very early in our lives, exposed us to different kinds of food. He made us try different cuisines and I am very thankful for that. I have a lot of knowledge about food, about ingredients and spices. I am really passionate about food. 

Ranbir digs into his favourite Mishti Doi at the t2 office in May 2015

Do you cook?
Ah! I wouldn’t say I do. I can only make eggs, but that’s it!  

There’s so much talk about Katrina and you. How would you describe your relationship, post break-up? She’s described you as her best friend in an interview.... 
(Laughs) I think she was being sarcastic! We are not best friends. I don’t know how to define my relationship with Katrina. Her impact on me has been the most influential, both personally and professionally. I don’t think I can live a life without her being around. We are like Tom and Jerry… ya, that’s our dynamic. We are constantly fighting, egging each other on. Ours is not one of those peaceful relationships. 

Are you enjoying the single life?
Errr…I am enjoying my life, irrespective of whether I have a partner or not. I am in a good phase in my life. I am doing films that are inspiring me. I have two beautiful dogs. I have finally bought a house. To buy your own house is a big accomplishment. And just the freedom of doing what I want to do without getting into the trappings of doing what I am expected to do. I am trying to be... organic, but organic is an over-used word… I am trying to not be skilful.
Anyone who watched Koffee With Karan last season got the impression that you are a big gossip. What’s going on with that?
Kareena (Kapoor, his first cousin) and Karan (Johar) have tarred my image! (Laughs) I’ll tell you what’s going on. So, I am a fan of films, and especially Hindi films. I am very interested in knowing what films are happening. I am not really interested in knowing who someone is sleeping with or dating. I am only interested in knowing the film that Raju Hirani or Sanjay Leela Bhansali is making or what Madhuri Dixit is doing. That’s the extent of the gossip or news that I have and I am interested in. 

Getting back to Jagga, you’ve said that this is going to be your first and last film as producer. Are you serious about that?
Ya. I have realised that producing is a professional job. It’s very easy for an actor to produce because they take a large percentage and become producers. I am not cut out to do that. I am very happy just being an actor. I would like to direct some day, but production is not something I have enjoyed. I am happy that I have produced a film like Jagga, but I wouldn’t want to produce any more. 

I am not good at it. I am not good with people, man management, conflict of any kind, getting things done, marketing or managing money. I don’t have any of the skills required for being a producer. I shouldn’t do the thing that I know nothing about. Somebody else should be doing that job. 

You’ve made four films in the last three years. It seems like you’ve been working round the clock... 
In a year, I probably work about 150 days. A film usually takes about 100 days. We mostly shoot one film at a time, start-to-finish. Like the Sanjay Dutt film, I have shot for 65 days. I have about 10 days left. I will have two months off before I start Ayan’s (Mukerji’s) film (Dragon). Only Jagga went on for a while, so I made other films in between. With every film, you spend time prepping, shooting and then promoting, which is the hard part. 

Now that you’ve almost finished shooting the Dutt biopic (directed by Raju Hirani), is there anything that surprised you about his life?
Living his life as an actor in a make-believe world was insane. I was only acting, but he lived through those moments and I still don’t know how! He is such a controversial person, and yet he is so loved. He has done a lot of wrong things and he is admitting to them through this film. This is not a propaganda film where we are trying to portray him as this great personality. We are showing him as the person he is and we are hoping that when the audience sees him, they learn from his mistakes. But what a life! Drugs, mother (Nargis) dying days before his debut film’s premiere, relationship with his father (Sunil Dutt), terrorism and AK-56, rehab and his marriages — it’s just a crazy life! When I shot certain scenes like in the jail or in rehab, I was so emotionally unstable just acting. I can’t imagine how he’s lived through all this in one life.

What do you do in your downtime between films?
I am one of those people who can just do nothing. In a day, 90 per cent of the time I don’t have a thought in my head. My mind is a blank. It’s almost like a meditative state of being. People tell me that they admire this quality, but some also tell me that it’s very sad that I am like that. I have always been like this. I enjoy just sitting on my swing in my terrace and just staring into space. I could do that for hours. 

Otherwise, I could watch movies, play PlayStation or read. I like travelling. I love travelling alone. I don’t need company. I am very happy having my meals alone. I don’t always need people around. I am one of those rare men who enjoys shopping, so I do that when I am travelling. And I love eating…and when I am not shooting, I also love drinking. I am in the visual medium, so I can’t drink when I am shooting. When I am on a holiday, I am happy drinking beer and eating all the junk that I can’t eat otherwise!

Karishma Upadhyay
What soul food would you serve Ranbir and why? Tell