We Are Family has opened well and Arjun Rampal is expectedly elated. Going through a very good phase in his career where he has four back to back successful films behind him - Raajneeti, Housefull, Om Shanti Om and Rock On - Arjun was stepping into the family scene for the first time in We Are Family. Despite having Kajol and Kareena around, he had to play it all in a subtle manner. As the film finds its target audience over an extended weekend, Arjun gets talking to this correspondent about the initial apprehensions that he carried when it came to signing the film and how he is having the last laugh.
Now that We Are Family has released, audience can see for themselves that you actually have a good role to play in the film's narrative. However, many were apprehensive that due to mighty presence of Kajol and Kareena, you could perhaps be sidelined. Tell me honestly Arjun, didn't that play in your mind as well before you signed the film?
Ok, so I will be honest here. Frankly, I was scared when the script of We Are Family first came to me. I had seen the original Stepmom and I didn't agree with the leading man's character there. I felt that he wasn't contributing much to the plot. I did share my apprehensions but the when I heard the entire script; I saw that Karan (Johar) and Siddharth (Malhotra) had actually worked on making the man stronger and made it an active part of the screenplay.
Somewhere there also must have been the lure of working in a Dharma Production...
It happens to everyone. I always wanted to do a Dharma film; I won't deny that. This is why I am happy that We Are Family is doing well. It was important for me. After all there is so much responsibility that you carry when you are the leading man in a Karan Johar production.
Talking about Karan, how involved was he during the day-to-day progress of the film? Was he a hands-on contributor to the film or was Siddharth allowed to call the shots independently?
Well, Karan literally played a stepmom to the film (laughs). He gave us all a step motherly treatment as he didn't come on the sets at all. He told Siddharth and us that since he had done all he could during the pre-production days, it was left entirely on us to get a quality product out. I have heard from other people as well who have made films for Karan that he does so all the time. He lends a direction and then just moves on.
But don't you personally feel that it is always a risk to have a debutant director call the shots all by himself, especially so when there are superstars and big bucks involved?
I believe that if a mighty personality like Karan stays on the sets for a longer period of time, it tends to get intimidating for not just the director but even other members of cast and crew. Creativity can come in only when artists are given a free hand. I am perfectly fine if a producer is not interfering and trusts his folks to come up with a good product.
Well, appears that We Are Family did turn out to be a good product for its target audience. After all female audiences are rooting for it...
Picture bahaut achchi bani hai and I am very proud of it. It has a really nice message to it and though it is a first proper adaptation of an English film, we have ensured that it is much younger and more entertaining. A film with a subject like this could have turned melodramatic but this is not the case as Siddharth treated it differently. There isn't anything which is unbelievable. Though Kajol and Kareena have worked in emotional family dramas before, for me it was a very unusual experience. I am especially happy with the way each of the characters comes with its own sense of dignity to it.
In a way, in your real life too you must be looking at We Are Family bringing further dignity and credibility to your career. Rock On, Om Shanti Om, Housefull, Raajneeti and now We Are Family, it couldn't have been better.
Arrey, don't put too much pressure on me yaar (smiles). I just pray that people go and enjoy my films. If a film does well then everybody benefits and vice versa. This is a film which I am very proud of and was always confident that it would do well.
When there was such good confidence, didn't it hurt that you had to actually move the release date of your film to avoid clash with Dabangg?
Why should one have any ego whatsoever, especially when it comes to your work? A film like Dabangg is a big Eid film and if Karan and Co. thought that it might affect our business if we came with it, it had a valid reasoning. It was better to come solo and enjoy an open week, isn't it? After all We Are Family is our baby and there was no way that we would have let it get hurt. Now that We Are Family is doing well, it justifies our decision, isn't it?