What makes Rajat Kapoor an intriguing director, producer, writer and an actor? The fact that he says, "I don't exist in Bollywood. I direct my style of films, act in my kind of movies and produce what I believe in". The fact that he's not necessarily interested in his all round image but more in becoming the character and trying different things. You wouldn't think it to look at him, and certainly not to listen to him, but Rajat has turned out to be something of a risk taker and a survivor.
Having spent a few years in the direction doldrums (theatre and films), unsure even as to whether he had chosen an appropriate, 'dignified' career, he moved on to acting and is now known for his memorable roles in films like Dil Chahta Hai, Corporate, Monsoon Wedding and Bheja Fry. With additional career moves such as writing and production, he is now termed - 'Jack of All Trades'.
Now, the shabby looking actor (that's how he described himself to each of the interviewers over the phone) talks about his latest film Siddharth where he plays a prisoner. The actor also gave some bizarre insights to some 'not-so-bizarre' questions in an interview which happened in a bizarre looking ambience which looked more like a prison anyway (and that again is what Rajat thought of). Over to the man of few but fiery words. Here are excerpts from the interview:
What satisfies you as an actor with so much versatility in you?
I don't know really. The feeling of having done a good job satisfies me. When you look back at a film and say, "Oh God, this looks fake. This doesn't look real enough to what I wanted to show". For things like that, I wish I could go back in time and re-do it but I can't. So, a film where by and large, we don't get that feeling that it's fake when we watch it, I think that is what is satisfactory for you as an actor.
How different is Siddharth the writer from Rajat the writer?
Not very different. Quite close I should say. I somewhat identify with that guy in the film because he is also as shabby as I am. The external appearance is quite close to me and internally he is as passionate and intense as I am when I write. He is also a believer, something I associate myself with.
What type of a writer are you in real life and what inspires you to write?
I only write film scripts. I need a hook to get into a script. Like I had a hook in Raghu Romeo, I had a hook in Mithya. The beginning of any story has to be very strong and that's when you get hooked initially. Then there is no stopping you to get inspiration.
You're doing acting, direction, production, scripting and theatre. Don't you think you've got your feet in too many holes?
I would say 'too many' if I couldn't do it. If I can do all the roles then I don't think there is a problem. I hope I am doing justice in what I am doing. But it's not that I am doing this continuously all the time. The last play I did was eight years back. I am now doing a play. So it's not that I am doing theatre, running to my shoot, scripting a film, it doesn't work like that for me. I try to phase them. Theatre gives me as much joy as cinema does. So I don't want to abandon either of them.
How was Pryas Gupta's story able to convince you as an actor?
It wasn't the story of Siddharth which convinced me. It was Pryas Gupta. It was the passion that he had, the vision that he had. It's quite an abstract film as you may or may not know. It wasn't a fabulous script but the kind of film he had in mind that made it interesting.
The film explores the renunciation as a true path to enlightenment and freedom. Is the film exploring the psyche of each individual?
These are ideas which are conveyed through the overall film. It's not about how will I play a character of a prisoner who is enlightened. When you're playing, you're playing a scene. Your effort is to be as truthful to that scene and situation. And it is the director's job to see that his ideas come through with the whole film.
How did the debutant Sachin Nayak stand up to you as your co-star?
He is very good in the film and so are all the other actors. I think if the casting of any film is done correctly, then half your battle is won anyway. Sachin is a good find and now-a-days, we do have actors like Purab Kohli, Abhay Deol, etc who are doing good yet different stuff which pleases the eye sometimes.
How careful do you have to be to articulate your point of view as an artist to your director?
Why do you have to be careful? As an artiste, you don't have to be careful to articulate your point of view. You have to be yourself and your view point comes across to whomsoever it may concern. If you become careful, you are not an artiste.
What do you want the audiences to take back with them after watching Siddharth?
That they saw a good film. I don't exactly know how to answer this. You don't take anything from watching a film. When you listen to music, you take the feeling of joy and fulfilment. You don't learn anything when you see a film, or watch a painting or listen to music. I think art is a representation of beauty. So what do you take from a beauty? I guess, just the enjoyment of it.
Off late, we haven't seen you in many commercial flicks. Do you intend to stay away from Bollywood?
Yes, I intend to stay away from Bollywood because I am not a part of Bollywood filmmaking. I am not Bollywood at all. I am quite happy existing on the margins and living my life on the edge and to be able to make films that I want to make.