Incomplete relationships are beautiful, but bittersweet: ArjunOur generation is afraid of dealing with their emotions: Arjun
Neha Maheshwri (BOMBAY TIMES; May 15, 2017)

Her idea of love is being inspired by fairy tales, but he prefers rational about romance. She is emotional, while he is practical to a fault. They may be poles apart, but together, Shraddha Kapoor and Arjun Kapoor exude an effortless chemistry and camaraderie. In a candid chat with BT, the actor and his 'Half Girlfriend' talk about their upcoming film, the beauty of incomplete love stories and the complexities of modern relationships. Excerpts...

The title of your film is rather unconventional. So, what does the term 'half girlfriend' mean?
Arjun: I think Chetan Bhagat (whose book Half Girlfriend the film is based on) has cracked it perfectly. It's a term for relationships that don't culminate in anything definite. Sometimes, we may feel an emotional connect with people who don't end up as our partners. Not always do we give relationships a tag. Half girlfriend is not a frivolous term, it's an emotional one.
Shraddha: Sometimes, adverse situations cut short relationships; hence, the word 'half'.
Arjun: Incomplete relationships are sometimes beautiful. Painful, but bittersweet.

Is it difficult being friends with the person you are madly in love with?
Arjun: It's not easy, but how you deal with it also depends on your age. As we grow older, we don't want to lose those few who we rely upon emotionally. And so, we make peace with the fact that the other person doesn't reciprocate our feelings. In our film, both Madhav and Riya (Arjun and Shraddha's characters) have feelings for each other, but circumstances don't allow them to be together.
Shraddha: Some people can be friends with the object of their affection. It depends on the ability to deal with one's feelings.

Have you ever had a half girlfriend or boyfriend?
Arjun: Yes. And the film will resonate with many because most of us have been in that situation.
Shraddha: The best way to recover from that phase is by crying your heart out, spending time with yourself and turning to people you trust and love. It's alright to brood. You should face the hurt instead of trying to escape it. The more you try to escape heartbreak, the more it will haunt you.
Arjun: Our generation is afraid of dealing with their emotions. It's best to face it and not brush it aside. Or else, it might manifest in other ways. Relationships are complex. Making peace is difficult, but you have to give it an honest try.

Are you very emotional? Do you break down easily?
Arjun: I would love to cry, but it's not easy for me. There have been times when I've cried inside, but had a smile on my face. My sister (Anshula) often tells me that I should just let it out. Maybe it doesn't come naturally to me because from an early age, I've kept my feelings bottled up. Also, I would rather rationalize a situation than get emotional about it.
Shraddha: There are times when I feel the need for a good cry, but I am not able to do so. Crying can be cathartic and refreshing at the same time. I recommend it to everyone.

Why do you think modern relationships are becoming so complex?
Arjun: Relationships have always been complex. It's just that the complexities are more visible today. Earlier, the problems were hidden behind closed doors, but now, they are out in the open. While we have acknowledged the problem, we don't have a solution. There is awareness, but no answer.
Shraddha: Yes, relationships have always been complicated, it's just that the reasons have changed over the years. For example, earlier, some parents would lock up the girl to stop her from meeting her lover. That may not be happening today.
Arjun: I am sure it still does, in some places at least.

Do you think that today, love has changed from being unconditional to convenient?
Arjun: We were talking about it recently, and Mohit (Suri, director) mused that true love does stay. He talked about how, after several upheavals, he had realised that Udita (Goswami, his wife) was the one for him. I don't have a PhD in love, but I agree that the younger generation is a tad impatient and inconsistent when it comes to relationships. Having said that, there are enough examples to prove that there is pure love as well, which helps you sail through trials and tribulations. There are people willing to work things out and not just walk away.
Shraddha: Nowadays, people think a lot about themselves and so, the threshold for tolerance has reduced. Walking away becomes an easier option.
Arjun: Sometimes, realisation that it wasn't love to begin with strikes and you fall out of it. It's human tendency.
Shraddha: The very thought of falling out of love with the person I want to spend my life with frightens me. I have a fairy tale idea of love.

The title of your film suggests, 'friend se zyada, girlfriend se kam...' Do you think women may object to it?
Arjun: No, I am sure that the film will not offend anyone. Even if someone raises an objection, we will respect their opinion.
Shraddha: Chetan wrote it from the girl's perspective. According to the story, Riya asks Madhav to accept her as his half girlfriend.

Talking about women's perspective, Arjun, you have been particularly close to the women in your family. What's your view on feminism?
The most beautiful aspect of our democracy is that everybody is entitled to their opinion, but nobody should enforce their views on others. We should agree to disagree. However, thanks to the social media culture, the paraphernalia surrounding an issue gets so much attention sometimes that the actual point is lost. While giving opinions, one forgets the topic. A point of view should be expressed for the benefit of the society, not to get noticed or be heard because that's how negativity breeds. I am all for equality and I also believe that women are more powerful than men in many ways. They are the nurturers, and they possess the beautiful ability to give while men, unfortunately, are takers by nature. I believe that women should be able to make choices freely and independently, just like men.

Is equality something that we only preach and not practise?
Arjun: It is used selectively. For me, equality is about respecting women, which doesn't happen too often in our country. We have to tackle that first. Can you believe that even today, there are many schools where girls don't have access to toilets? Shouldn't we have co-ed schools in villages too, where girls and boys can study together? We cannot scream about bringing a change without addressing inequality at the grass-roots level.
Shraddha: Disparity is at its worst in remote parts of the country. Forget equality, many a time, women are treated inhumanely. Something needs to be done about that. We need to respect each other irrespective of our gender.

In the film, Riya comes from a dysfunctional family. Arjun, your parents separated when you were really young. Having grown up in a broken family, could you connect with the character more?
Arjun: I have never used that term to describe my life. Yes, life is complicated and mine has been hard, but in a different way. So, I couldn't relate to Riya's dysfunctional family .
Shraddha: Dysfunctionality is not just about a failed marriage or parents getting divorced. It is more about a family that lives in toxicity and lacks communication.

On a lighter note, Arjun mimics a lot of actors. Shraddha, did he mimic your father (Shakti Kapoor) on the sets?
Shraddha: He did, but by accident. Instead of saying 'ouch', he once said 'aaoo' (a la Shakti Kapoor). Arjun, you didn't even realise you did it (laughs).
Arjun: Yes, I stamped on her foot and said, 'Aaoo' (imitates Shakti).

A lot of young actors are quite vocal on social media. Though you both are out there, we don't see you doling out advice/opinion...
Arjun: I don't always check my social media accounts, especially when I am shooting. I don't ponder over each and everything happening on social media. Also, I don't always feel the need to share my opinion with the world because it can be misinterpreted. Social media can destroy your thought process if you give it too much importance. You need to know when to walk away. If my opinion on social media could change the system, I would have put in way more effort, but it is bound to get lost amidst so many opinions.
Shraddha: I only use it when I feel like. I am not too attached to social media.