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    Exclusive! Arjun Rampal On Paltan, Why He Doesn't Like To Watch His Films, Friday Jitters & More

    By Madhuri

    'I take up films only if I am passionate about them,' says Arjun Rampal at a point when our conversation steers towards his last production 'Daddy' where he played the role of the dreaded gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli. He is ready to take criticism in his stride, provided it makes sense to him. Over to Arjun Rampal who in an exclusive chat with Filmibeat talks about playing a man in uniform, getting jittery with Friday releases and much more.

    Excerpts from the conversation-

    What was your reaction when JP Dutta offered you Paltan?

    I was completely shocked and taken back. I was stunned that nobody knows about such a wonderful story. It's not even mentioned in our textbooks. Had this regiment of soldiers not done what they did at that point of time, the whole map of India would have been very different. It was astonishing and then, like a 'wow' to play a real character.

    But playing such a character on screen comes with its own set of challenges, doesn't it?

    But playing such a character on screen comes with its own set of challenges, doesn't it?

    JP Dutta is a kind of filmmaker who wants his actors to submit to him. That was his only request. He was like, 'I know why I am casting you and I know exactly what I need from you. So, you just have to follow those goals and instructions. I would not like you to go and do any kind of prep or research." Of course, he gave me pictures of the character which I was playing, Lt. Col. Rai Singh. He didn't want me to come with any preconceived notions about the backstory of my character. When I landed in Ladakh, I found a docket consisting 50-60 pages with 'Classified: Lt Col Rai Singh' written on it. (laughs)

    There was such kind of similarity which I drew between him and my nanaji who was a Brigadier in the army. He had also served the British army, did a stint in England and then came back and designed the first first artillery gun for the Indian Army post independence.

    Is JP Dutta's approach towards film-making different from the ones with whom you have worked before?

    Yes, it was a very different approach. It was an approach of submission. Even if we weren't shooting, we were required on the sets. We always had to be ready. The whole idea was to put us in a routine of getting ready and be only in uniform right through the whole film. So, I just had an uniform in my wardrobe.

    But what happened in that process was that everybody bonded and shared a warm camaraderie. There weren't any vanity or make-up vans. We were always under the sun and cold, just like the soldiers would be. I think that toughens you up and makes you experience what everybody else is experiencing. It keeps playing on your mind and you get used to it.

    Was it difficult for you to leave behind the character once you wrapped up the shoot?

    I don't think that's easy for any characters. But you have to step out of it of course. But I don't think any character leaves you especially if they are the kinds which we are playing in Paltan. A part of it always stays back with you. It all comes back when I am giving interviews or if I see some shot or trailer. That's why I don't like to watch my films. (laughs) Because then, you have to relive the whole thing all over again from your experience. You can't sit and enjoy that film Instead, you do your job to the best of your ability and then leave it out there.

    You have been around in the industry for a long time now. What significant changes have you seen from your starting career till date?

    When I started my career, people didn't really emphasize on scripts. Everything was done on the sets. Today, people want to know, read and understand the scripts. Now, it's more professional. The actors have become far more responsible and every department has a lot of talent there. There's lot of creativity happening out there.

    Your last film 'Daddy' didn't work at the box office. What do you think went wrong with it?

    I don't think we went wrong with it. I think we just knew that this film would be more Maharashtra-centric. So, it did phenomenally well here. But, we couldn't penetrate outside Maharashtra. I don't think people they associated with that character. Usually, it's difficult for gangster film genres to break through to a different level. But I think, a lot of people watched it once it went on Amazon Prime. People from different parts of India and the world and they were all like 'Wow, that was really a phenomenal movie'. Which it was, even if I have to say so myself. It will be a film which I will always be proud of. These things happen. It's not something which you can go back and ponder what went right and wrong. Each film has its own destiny.

    But Daddy was really close to your heart because when we spoke last time during the promotions, you sounded very passionate about that film..

    I am passionate about all my films otherwise I don't do them. Why do a character which wouldn't excite you? I was passionate about that film and am now for Paltan as well. I am proud with what we achieved with Daddy. It was something which definitely raised the bar in that genre or will be recognized in the years to come and that's what cinema is about. It is all about the product which you leave behind. Whether a film did well or not, nobody remembers that after ten years.

    Do you believe in constructive criticism?

    There are many people who have different opinions; constructive and destructive. Once I do a movie, my job is over and I move away from it. (laughs) See if you are bad in it, you know you are bad in it. People don't really say things to upset you or piss you off. It's important to see what they didn't like. You need to see if it makes sense to you. If it does then yes, it's an eye-opener and you learn from it. But if not then, you don't care and just let it go. Because you know if somebody is trying to be a bit too smart or intellectual or if their criticism makes sense and should be paid attention to.

    Do you still get Friday jitters when a film is inching towards its release date?

    Yes, in fact every actor does. You put in so much effort and money into a film that you want it to do well and reach to the largest audience it can reach it. That's why you make films. So yes, on Friday when a film releases, I really do hope that it's liked by all. Anybody who tells you that they don't through that and doesn't feel nervous about it isn't speaking the truth (laughs). Because I do get nervous. I want my films to do well and reach out to the larger audience.

    How do you view box office numbers? Do you think it should be a criteria to judge a film?

    Box office numbers can't be a criteria to decide if a film is good or bad. Instead, it can be a criteria to describe the business of a film and that's a different aspect.

    Finally, would you like to go behind the camera?

    Right now, I want to work with some more really good directors to learn more about the craft. But, I would say, at some point of time, I would like to make a film.

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