Arjun Rampal is sitting quietly with his wife Meher in his mammoth balcony. Then he gets a beep on his mobile and tries to reach for the phone kept on his coffee table. His eyes pop out. Meher gets a bit worried by seeing the expression on her husband's face. He gets up and replies to the text and awaits the reply from the sender. Meher again asks, "What's the matter?" And yes, the second time around, Arjun had to answer. "I've just won the National Award".
Both start yelling and screaming, jumping with joy. It was the afternoon they'll cherish for the rest of their lives. God Bless! But hey, the excitement wasn't limited to them two. On the same night, Arjun invited some of his close friends to be a part in his celebration for winning the highest honour in the field of acting. The stampede included Rock On pals, Farhan Akhtar, Prachi Desai, close friends Chunky Pandey with wife Bhavna, Saif Ali Khan popped the champagne bottle in grand style, there was Sohail Khan, Karisma Kapoor, Sajid Khan, Riteish Deshmukh, and many more who rocked till four in the morning. The next day, I meet him at the same place, the same balcony where the breaking news was heard.
Arjun Rampal looked like nothing had happened the previous night, like there was no National Award news which he read on his blackberry. Rampal looked the same as before - calm, composed and controlled. And that's what makes him Arjuna: a warrior who never gave up, a warrior who fought till the end and a warrior who believed in seeing the one and only one eye of the fish...which he calls...the passion for cinema. We met the warrior who won and will keep on winning - Arjun Rampal.
So, has it all paid off in the end huh? A National Award at the age of thirty five plus and working for almost a decade now.
Yeah. My mother always used to tell me that there is no substitute to hard work and perseverance. You keep going at it and do not stop. You continue even if you haven't hit your goal. I think, it's about sticking to what you've always wanted to do, loving it, and giving it that respect and honesty. I think that was the phase when Rock On and many other things were happening in my life. I was not doing films and was waiting for the right ones to come. I've done enough of mediocre films and it's time to move ahead as I've had enough of that.
Has success found a new meaning today?
See, success and failure for me are like husband and wife. Both are hugely overrated. How many light bulbs did Thomas Edison blow before he got the right one? (Laughs). But the thing is, he stuck to it because he wanted to create a light bulb. If he had given up on that, who knows, we would've waited for the bulb for another decade. That's success. I don't do films for more money or awards. I do it because I love doing them.
Just like Arshad is known for his single best performance in Munnabhai, you too are known for in Rock On. I'm sure people are going to talk about you and the film for another decade.
Well, let's hope I break that mould with my next film (laughs). Once I've done the film, it's gone and I don't live in it any more. I've nothing to do with it.
But I'm sure you must've re-lived the Rock On days yesterday?
Yes, of course I did. The feeling of having won the National Award is still sinking in. It's like my sins being washed away. It's like all the bad stuff I've done is being forgiven. That's the kind of honour you feel when you win an award like this. It's like the revival of your confidence and your beliefs of whatever that you want to do and say, "I just want to do the right stuff and work with the right people". I don't want to compromise now. That also means that I'll be doing far less work now (laughs).
You seem all set for a big innings now.
Yes I am. I don't want my career to be like a dice, that you're rolling it and sometimes a six or a one would come. I should roll the dice in such a way that only six should come. That's the kind of effort that should go into it and will stay with me for life long.
Come March, you'll be walking to receive the award from the hands of the President of India.
Can you believe it? I think it'll be the most humbling moment and a memory which will be cherished forever. I'm looking forward to March and am excited about it. But then, I'm still an actor and I'll still be making mistakes and will have to come back to the drawing board and learn how to remove those mistakes.
Will Arjun Rampal be taken ten times more seriously now?
The seriousness of anything and everything will reflect from the kind of work one keeps doing. It took me a long time to understand my craft and realise that this is the kind of work I want to do. I wasn't scared of pushing the envelope. To sustain, you need to be serious about your work. I am serious about my work and I won't work with people who are not serious about it. I want to work with people who are passionate and as committed and dedicated to giving you what you are going to give back. Serious filmmakers have always taken me seriously and that's why they've never given up on me. My fans too have stood by me and have taken me seriously and that's been encouraging.
You've worked with Priyanka Chopra who has also won the National Award.
Yes. She was great in Fashion and many congratulations to her. What was really wonderful about this National Awards was the fact that the top three films winning awards were commercial films; they were successful films with commercial actors and were big releases. They swept the National Awards because they were different in their content and were pushing the envelope. Plus, these weren't the films that came in the bracket of small films with budgets of three to four crores. I respect the National Awards more now because they've started to take commercial cinema seriously.
How much would you love to curse Abhishek Kapoor for not coming to your party and for loving him to make Rock On?
(Laughs) I love him too much and I'll never curse him. Gattu wasn't here because he was on a flight to Goa on the day I kept a party for selected friends to celebrate my National Award. I think I'll fly down to Goa tomorrow and party with him. I'm so proud of him and he's the guy who truly deserves this. He is the same guy who sits at every award function and says, 'Damn, I didn't win the Best Film Award'. But today he has won the National Award for the Best Film. That makes up for everything. I'll only curse Gattu if he doesn't do Rock On 2.