Upala KBR (DNA; May 17, 2017)

In the midst of frenetic promotions for his next film Half Girlfriend, one notices a certain vulnerability in Arjun Kapoor, beneath his veneer of practicality. He’s a lot like Madhav Jha, the character he plays in his next release. While Arjun is very clear about not discussing his next films as the producers will announce it, he is open to talking about his love life or the lack of it. Over to Arjun on love, the presence of half-girlfriends in his life and why he can’t afford to fall in love right now.

Have you ever been madly in love like Madhav Jha?
I have, but that would be undermining the emotions I felt, if I felt my love was not as passionate as his. Love is passion. Each cell, bone and part of your body has to ache, each breath you take, has to vibrate with the love you are feeling!

You are a passionate person…
Of course, I am! Relationships are unique and so is the feeling of love. But yes, I have loved truly, madly and passionately…

How close to Madhav are you? There’s a vulnerability, yearning and sensitivity in him…
Correct. Essentially, that is the strength of the character, the milieu that the story is set in and the kind of world that he comes from. When you see the film, you will know that these are the emotions we want people to tap into. I won’t say that he’s similar to me because that would be a lie. My upbringing is in a city, my thought processes are very differently cultivated over the course of my different experiences.

Madhav is from a simpler place with more complex issues in terms of making a daily living and the hardships that he faces. There’s a big disparity. Our upbringing is different. The sensitivity that he has — I would I say I relate to it, but the profession that I am today and the kind of work that I do, one also becomes a bit cold and detached to many things. He’s also a very vulnerable soul…

He reminds me of you… vulnerable on the inside and yet you are very practical on the surface.
True, that’s me as a person. I am like that, so my fa├žade would be that practicality always rules over emotions because that is the way I have been conditioned. Madhav reacts out of emotions. He is very practical in his thinking but his emotions are very visible and evident so that makes him vulnerable. And he’s not somebody who is discovering himself like dekhte hain zindagi mein kya hoga? He’s a person with a good plan in mind — to help his village and his state get better. Madhav is very clear at that young age.

What about you?
When I was his age, I was not as clear, and just took life as it came. But the one commonality which I do find is the emotion of the mother in the film. Obviously, I think that would go for most characters that you play if you have a parent in the film you are emotionally connected to. It was there in Ishaqzaade, where I had a mother taking care of me also. That string does tug at my heart if I think about Madhav.

Did you remember your mother during the making of the film?
In a very organic way. That remembering happens on all days — good and bad days. There’s not a single day that I don’t miss her. That’s a different chapter in my life and cannot be confined to one answer, interview or discussion. Yes, that is something that drew me to Madhav and to play him a certain way. I don’t think doing a scene or shot is the only way of remembering your loved ones. There is so much more to that.

After 2 States, now HG. Are you a poster boy for Chetan Bhagat’s books?
I wish I was a poster boy for Chetan (laughs) — then I could have been in his other films, too. It’s not as if we have sat in a room and decided how to make these two films. It’s happened from the director’s side. To give credit where it’s due, Chetan is a very intelligent writer when it comes to understanding his readers and the Indian thought process. If more directors are adapting Chetan’s novels and their vision connects with mine, I would be more than happy to continue this journey. But at the end of the day, the director is very important. For Chetan and me to come together, again and again, has more to do with Mohit Suri and Abhishek Varman rather than anything else.

Do you believe in the concept of a half girlfriend where you love someone but she just wants to be a friend?
This word has been articulated now through this film. It didn’t exist before this, as a lot of situations and relationships that have happened in our lives where you have felt a lot more than just a friend for somebody, but it has not culminated in a real relationship because of circumstances or just not being able to speak to the other person and tell them what you feel. I don’t think that in normal day-to-day life, we’d tell someone, ‘I want to be your half-girlfriend’. Circumstances create that situation. There’s an understanding that makes you pine for that person beyond friendship. But commitment cannot happen due to circumstances.

Are you in love?
Yes… I am in love with myself (grins) and that’s the best way to be I think right now. I have given my work so much importance that I have not allowed love to seep in and that’s been the case for me for the last few years. I am ready for love and yet I am a bit scared about change. I have got so comfortable about leading this mad life that sometimes I wonder if I will allow anyone in an if they will be able to survive this madness? Prioritising, the practicality of a relationship, taking out time, nurturing it — sometimes I wonder if I am capable of all this. When you find the right person, all that happens so...

Is your generation afraid of commitment?
Definitely. More than the past generation, for sure. And that’s purely out of seeing relationships not working over a course of years. In the cities, it’s a lot more so. No relationship is easy — there are good times and bad times and you have to nibhaao it as much as possible. Falling out of love is a very real thing. It can happen and maybe tumhara utna hi tha time saath mein… But the parting is also important in a correct way where it’s organic enough and the partners are understanding. Who doesn’t want an amicable parting? If you truly feel something for the other person, give it time. A lot of people of my generation are impatient. The first chance we get, we bail ourselves out of the situation. That is our generation’s problem — the impatience of things not being in place, but to each his own. I am no institute on love and relationships. Relationships teach you life lessons. If you made a mistake in one, don’t go and make it in the other.