Arjun Kapoor Exclusive Interview: “I’m Glad Ashutosh Gowariker Chose Me For Panipat”

Mohnish Singh |Nov 30, 2019

Arjun Kapoor, who was last seen in India’s Most Wanted, is now gearing up for his first period drama Panipat, co-starring Sanjay Dutt and Kriti Sanon.

We all know how choosy Arjun Kapoor is. Ever since making his silver screen debut with Yash Raj Films’ Ishaqzaade in 2012, he has always chosen characters that are starkly different than the ones who he has played onscreen. So, when award-winning filmmaker Ashutosh Gowariker approached him to play Sadashiv Rao Bhau in his next historical drama Panipat, Arjun Kapoor knew he was getting once-in-a-lifetime kind of role and jumped immediately on it.

Ahead of the release of Panipat, which also features Sanjay Dutt and Kriti Sanon in central characters, STARBIZ caught up with Arjun Kapoor and talked to him in detail about his character, how did he prepare for it and the experience of working with filmmaker Ashutosh Gowariker who has so many iconic films on his directorial resume. Excerpts…

Panipat 2
Image source: Instagram

How difficult was it to do a period drama like Panipat, and how challenging has the entire journey been for you?

This story has not been shown prominently in our history. We just know how it ended and a little bit in between. By the looks of its trailer, you may think that Panipat is a war drama, but I personally believe that it is a patriotic film. This is the story of those warriors who constituted an army so that they could fight with outside invaders. This was actually the first war that we fought as united India. I feel it was very important to tell this story.

Talking about challenges, every film involves hard work, so did this film. First of all, I shaved off my head for the role. Though that was not a challenging part, you have to let go of certain inhibitions to play the character of a Peshwa. Peshwa community should feel proud when they see it. They should feel that we have been authentic.

Did Ashutosh Gowariker not give you the option of using a wig?

But that would not have been appropriate. A wig would cause so much trouble while doing action sequences. It may get loose and fall off. It was not a film which could be shot in 4-5 days. Moreover, it would be unfair to the film and to the community. If I play a Punjabi and treat the turban like a cap, that would be so wrong. I never minded shaving my hair off for the film. Another challenge was to ride a horse. I learnt horse-riding for two months in Mahalaxmi racecourse. Don’t tell this to Kriti, but my horse was my most important co-star in the film (laughs). I learnt javelin throw also.

Panipat
Image source: Instagram

Did you approach this character from your director’s point of view?

Yes, I saw this character from his point of view because he has written the film in detail, after an extensive research.

Was History your favourite subject in school?

It seems to be a fake answer to say that my favourite subject was history in school, but it indeed was. I never used to score well in Maths, but I used to take a lot of interest in History. Maybe one of the attractions for doing Panipat was my interest in Geography and History in school. Biology, Physics and Chemistry I could not understand. So, yeah, History was my favourite subject in school.

Panipat 1
Image source: Instagram

Ashutosh Gowariker had written this character keeping you in mind. Why was he so confident that you would say yes to it whenever he offered the film to you?

You should ask this question from him. Before coming onboard for Panipat, I had met him twice of thrice at parties, just it. He has worked with Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan and Hrithik Roshan. He is very good with actors. He is an actor himself. He is an institution in terms of cinema and understanding of storytelling.

So, he showed me the image of Sadashiv Rao Bhau. You won’t believe it but before offering me the film, he watched all my movies once again. I was shocked to see the kind of preparation that he had already done. He had even researched how would I look with my head shaven. He said that he had seen all my films and found my photos of side profile on the net. He said, ‘You are not convinced. We will convince you. I will still do a look test’. So, he took a look test in May (2018), before we started shooting for the film in December.

He said, “I want a man. I want a warrior’. He had cast Sanjay Dutt when he came to me. He said, ‘I don’t want a boy. I want a man.’ Peshwas were warriors eventually. So, he had done his R&D before coming to me and that is why he knew I would fit the part. See, every actor dreams to work with good directors and this is a genre which is tempting to most of the actors. At least once in their lives they want to attempt it.

Ak Ii
Image source: Instagram

How have you evolved as an actor since your debut film Ishaqzaade (2012)?

I was always slightly a mature soul. I had seen so many ups and downs in my life before I became an actor. I used to smile less. I was a little grumpy, so many people used to think that I was arrogant, but I was not. I would like to believe I am better today than what I was back then. As a human being also, you try to improve and evolve. I feel I am much calmer now.

How do you feel when a filmmaker like Ashutosh Gowariker shows so much faith in you?

I became an actor so that I could do a diverse range of films. I have always tried to do different kind of characters. I have tried to do all kind of films as much as possible. Whether it is Ishaqzaade, 2 States (2014), Gunday (2014), Ki & Ka (2016), Half Girlfriend (2017), Mubarkan (2017), and India’s Most Wanted (2019), I have tried to do all sorts of films.

I don’t want to be bound. Now I am getting to do a film like this maybe somewhere all those experiments have made a director feel that he can do all sorts of films. That was my ambition when I became an actor. My ambition was not to become No. 1 or No. 2. In the purest of hearts, I can say that it is a big achievement that a man who has worked with those many big stars and big actors has chosen me for this role. I hope he is happy with me because I have put in my 200 percent. But I loved doing this film. I genuinely did. He is a very good director and a very good human being. I so glad that he chose me.

>>> You may want to read: Arjun Kapoor And Kareena Kapoor Relation - Too Far To Be Called Cousins

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