Arjun Kapoor
Chaya Unnikrishnan (DNA; July 22, 2017)

Arjun Kapoor has beaten Sonam and Harshvardhan Kapoor in sharing screen space with Anil Kapoor. Mubarakan is also his first full-fledged comedy. He is the only actor from his generation to play a double role for the second time after Aurangazeb. He jokes, “With Anil chachu in the film, you need to have a double role!” Here, the actor talks about the challenges of playing twins, sharing screen space with himself, talking to tennis balls, working with his chachu and more.

This is the second time you are playing a double role after Aurangzeb. Was it easier or tougher this time?
Both the films were tough and fun. No actor looks at work as easy or tough. If you think it’s too easy, you are not going to put effort in it, if you think it’s too tough, you will get scared. Both the genres are unique — Aurangzeb was a drama thriller, while Mubarakan is an absolute family entertainer. The dynamics between the two characters are different. I played brothers in both the films, but in Aurangzeb I didn’t share screen space with myself. They were two different characters, who live their own lives and one pretends to become the other. The only time we met was in the last 10 minutes of the film. Whereas in this film, I am sharing screen space with myself through the film, which was very exciting. At the same time, it made me nervous, too.

How challenging was it to play the two characters?
I had to develop an equation on how the two brothers would behave and also how an elder brother feels towards his younger one. I had to imagine doing all of it with myself. They are twins so there is an overlap of personalities. The thing is Karan is the bully, while Charan is the docile one, who gets bullied because he is submissive. I am Anshula’s older brother and I have bullied her. So that part I knew, but here I had to do it to myself, which was exciting.

Did you play the two characters alternatively or shot one the entire day and the other the next day?
I used to shoot both the characters alternatively. I must have swapped Karan and Charan four-five times a day. In the morning, the whole scene would play out with the director Anees Bazmee, the DOP along with the VFX camera. Who I would play first used to depend on the scene. If Karan’s is the more proactive one, with more conversation, I would do that first. I used to have a body double, Bali (Balwinder Singh Janjua), who was also the writer. He used to sit with me and perform as Charan. If there was Anil chachu, Ileana (D’Cruz) and me in a scene, Bali used to play Charan and I would be Karan. He would perform with us in the scene. After the scene, I would go and watch the video to see where the actors were standing, how they reacted to Charan, how many times they looked at him, when did Charan take a pause, who did he look at... I would watch everything minutely. I had to match what Bali did and perform on top of it. I would then go back in the frame and all the other actors would be removed. Tennis balls would be kept as their eyes! The audio with Karan that was already shot would be played. I would then perform as Charan looking at the tennis balls!

Was there any point when you got confused?
No, never. When I used to wear the pagadi, I would start feeling like Charan. I had enough time to breathe and get into the character. I would focus and calm myself down. The pagadi always helped.

Before Sonam and Harshvardhan Kapoor, you have managed to share screen space with Anil Kapoor...
(Cuts in) Technically, my father worked with him before, but yes on screen I am the first! For me, the best part was the fact that Anil chachu called and told me about Mubarakan. He said, ‘I have heard this script and I think it will be perfect for you’. That for me was the biggest compliment! And also that he felt I am good enough to share screen space with him. I went in relaxed and happy and didn’t have that pressure ke Anil chachu kya sochte hai mere baarein mein. That phone call made me realise that I am worthy enough to work in a comedy with him. Validity from a fellow actor that he trusts you is important, especially, in a comedy.

The two of you share an amazing chemistry. What kind of equation do you share with Anil?
We are not the typical chacha-bhatija. We are like brothers, friends, chacha-bhatija, all together. More often we are like brothers where he is the younger one and I am the older one! He calls me Arjun chachu and I call him Anil chachu. It’s always been like this. You can’t fake it with with your family.

There have been reports about you doing the sequel of Namastey London. Is it true?
The only film I will be doing after Mubarakan is Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar as that is officially announced.

The film will see you reuniting with Parineeti Chopra after Ishaqzaade.
Yes. The first co-star is always special because you have shared more than screen time together. Our journey started together. After Ishaqzaade, we wanted to work with each other for the last five years, but we didn’t find the perfect material. Also, Dibakar (Banerjee) is a special talent so while it is exciting to pair up with Parineeti again, what is more exciting is we both are coming together for a perfect director who can explore another aspect of our chemistry.

Of the characters you have played so far, which is close to your heart and which do you identify with?
Identifying with a character is very different from one that is close to my heart. I don’t identify with Parma of Ishaqzaade, but he is close to my heart because that’s the first time I behaved like that. However, I identify with Krish from 2 States and he is also close to my heart. On the other hand, I don’t identify with Kabir of Ki & Ka but that philosophy, that thought is close to my heart. I feel why women should bear the brunt of being homemakers and if they are they should be respected for that. The journey of Gunday is also close to my heart. You might not equate with the character or the beliefs, but you always retain something from the film.

What is your takeaway from Mubarakan?
Right now, I am so busy promoting the film, talking about it that I can’t figure out because hum sirf baatein kar rahe hain.

Have you seen the film?
No. I haven’t seen the entire film. I haven’t even seen Ki & Ka till date.

Why is that?
Whenever I used to go for the screenings, the film would have already started. Balki (director) would tell me to watch it, but I wanted to see it aaram se. Also, when you see a film and your work in it close to the release, you start doubting it though people were saying nice things. I also had a little tashan that I want this film to be seen by the audience and get their reaction. It was such a special film for me that I let it go to the audience, and I think it worked. I know it shaped up the way we had imagined it to be.

After hosting Khatron Ke Khiladi, are you open to doing more TV?
I am always open to all avenues. But I would like to be a host because I don’t think I am a good judge. I am not that kind of a person to have an opinion on other people’s work, and what they are capable of. I prefer hosting and entertaining. Whatever the format of a show I would like to be the entertainer. I don’t want to sit and have an opinion. I like making people smile, engage and entertain.

What about a web series?
It’s still too early in the day to say we are ready for it because the material has to be very good. You need to see the growth of digital medium because a lot of stuff is already being made. I would be definitely interested as long as I see quality work coming out. Right now, we don’t have any references. Ek baar ubharna shuru ho... we will automatically sense the kind of value the digital series have.