He is one of those few models who have actually made it big in Bollywood (minus any proverbial Godfather), thus breaking the jinx that models can't act. He is what hard work is all about. We are indeed talking about none other than Arjun Rampal, the hunky man who debuted with Pyaar, Ishq Aur Mohabbat and who is all set to give the baddies a run for their money with his new-look in the much anticipated blockbuster Om Shanti Om.
Rampal spoke exclusively to IndiaFM on how life has come a full circle, what it means to work with Shah Rukh Khan again and what he is doing next. Over to the Hot Dude who breaks hearts every time he flashes that crooked smile. Relish…
To begin with Arjun, tell us how did OSO happen?
I had gone to the New Year's party at Shah Rukh's place. That's when Farah and Shah Rukh told me that I was going to be part of Om Shanti Om. The next day Farah came and narrated the story to me, which I thought was fantastic, and we all started shooting.
Give us an insight into the producer 'Mukesh Mehra', your character in the movie?
Basically, Mukesh is a very dark character and the reason why I agreed to play this role was that there is no justification to him.
One can play full on negative character without any qualms. And Mukesh happens to be a very important character in the whole film, someone who should be simply 'experienced' totally in the film. Actually, I think I shouldn't say much about him. It's a very unique role that I have done till now. And yes, there are things which Mukesh Mehra does, which have never been done by anybody on Indian screen.
Was it a conscious decision to play a villain?
It was not conscious. I think it's something that comes long your way. I think it's very rare that an actor, at such an early occasion in his career, gets to play character that's going to start at the age of 30 and end up age of 65, which is that's quite amazing, because you don't get to do those things. And to do in such a big commercial film, in which you going to have a large viewing, I'm really very thankful to Shah Rukh and Farah that they thought of me.
How difficult / easy was it to play 'Mukesh Mehra', considering the fact that you have earlier also played 'Shekhar Varma', a villain in Ek Ajnabee.
It was very difficult actually because there is nothing cool, charming or nice about Mukesh Mehra. So, you really had to work on different expressions and get into believing that how this person would think, and how he behaves. I got lot of help from Farah and Shah Rukh; they rehearsed a lot. Mukesh Mehra is not like typical villain of the 70's. He is a very new villain, a villain of today's time, which is very real at the same time. The character of Mukesh Mehra really stands out in the film.
Did a lot of homework go in conceptualizing the look of your character in OSO?
Farah was very clear about how she wanted me to look. The moustache was really thanks to Shah Rukh, because he asked me whether I had ever worn a moustache in any of my film. And when I replied in negative, we started trying a few moustaches on me, till we found the right one. I personally feel that the more and more you start shooting for the film, more and more one gets into the character. The moment I got into the costume, Mukesh Mehra simply used to come alive!
You have done quite a bit of films with SRK (Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, Don,and now…OSO). How's your rapport with SRK?
Shah Rukh is a great guy, a wonderful person and a great human being cum good friend. My rapport with him started with the world tour that we did together. After that, we hardly had any work together in KANK, but then we did Don together, where we spend lot of time together. And now OSO, which also happens to be his home production, where we spent a lot of time. SRK really helped me through with this character of Mukesh Mehra. I think what's good about Shah Rukh is the fact that when he works on any project, he doesn't look at it with an individualistic approach; he looks at the project in totality. SRK has lots of energy which is extremely contiguous.
Besides SRK, you also have done quite a bit of films with the legendary Amitabh Bachhan. (Ek Ajnabee, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, and now, The Last Lear). How is your rapport with him?
I think any actor who you work with; you have to have good rapport off screen, for it to be a good chemistry on screen. Even with Amitji, I share very good screen space and very good chemistry on screen. And it is special and lot of fun when we both act together. I think it should happen with any other actor that you work with, because it is really important for everybody to be friends in order to give 150% to the film because, then, the scene looks much more natural.
You have worked with two directors of different genres, of which one is Rituparno Gosh, a hardcore realistic film maker and Farah Khan, a hardcore commercial director. How was your experience working with both of them?
It was very amazing experience to play the role in The Last Lear because when I was working with Rituparna Ghosh, I found that here is a person who is very different and very realistic, and very subtle in terms of performances and other aspects.. And on the other hand there was Farah who possesses high energy and makes films that are larger than life film and extremely entertaining movies. It was wonderful and I felt very comfortable to be part of both these films. I think that when you feel comfortable in such different kinds of cinema, you suddenly realize that's it wrong to actually differentiate between cinemas.
Tell us something about your upcoming films.
There is Popcorn entertainment's film called EMI which is coming up with that's with Sanjay Dutt. Then, then there is a film I'm doing for an untitled film for Farhan Akhtar's home production, for which I should start shooting from January.
There's a lot more to Arjun Rampal than its meets the eye, like charity etc…something that not many people know about.
There is a cause that I support called 'Project Crayons'. They, basically take up girls who are street children and give them education and shelter. These kids are very bright and are doing extremely well in their studies, and we are going to do lot more for them. We care planning to do a few charity events in the near future for 'Project Crayons'.
Arjun, you are also a photographer par excellence, as certified by none other than Rituparno Ghosh himself. Have you ever taken up classes on the same?
Well, I always have been into photography and I loved photography for a long time now, say, for almost over 15-16 years. But I actually I started taking my pictures just about 3-4 years ago. And I really started enjoying shooting pictures, but they should be different pictures. In the sense, I don't like pose pictures, I like pictures which are shot in a moment. And, I haven't undergone any training in photography.
You are turning a producer in a big way with at least three films. Can you tell us something about that?
I won't talk about it right now. I'm here to talk about OSO and I'm very excited about it. I will definitely talk about these films, only when the time is right, maybe after OSO's release.
You stepped into films from modelling. Why is it that you never encouraged Meher to follow suit?
Well, I don't think she wanted to get into films. And I totally respect this decision of hers. Come to think of it, I don't think that Meher ever wanted to get into films.
Lastly, Arjun, your Diwali message to our readers
I just want say Happy Diwali and hopefully we can bring little bit brightness to this Diwali through our film.