Interview: Arjun Rampal

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

imageMumbai, Jan 15 (IANS) He hasn't had many hits so far. But model-turned-actor Arjun Rampal says the industry has faith in his abilities and he won't go begging for work.

"Everyone in the industry knows me and my abilities. I can't bring myself to go and beg for work. If they feel a role is meant for me they'd come to me. Otherwise it's their perogative to go to someone else," Rampal told IANS in an interview.

Right now. He's caught between releases. Arjun Rampal had Satish Kaushik's "Vaada" in the theatres last week. Now Vikram Bhatt's "Elaan" opens next week.

Ask him if he cares.

"I'm quite comfortable with the two releases in two weeks. Of course, I hadn't planned it. 'Vaada' was supposed to come earlier. But they're totally different from each other. Besides, they're both good films, right?"

Right! Arjun sighs: "'Vaada' took a decent opening. 'Elaan' should get an even better release. It was shot on a much larger scale and budget. Our producer Venus had the courage to take up a complete action film and, that too, with a group of not very successful stars."

Rampal agrees the film market is in a state of abysmal slump.

"Everyone is a bit confused about what to make. It's best to make something a little different. 'Elaan' does just that. And before you ask, how and why 'Elaan' is different, let me tell you it's the editing patterns that make it different from the run-of-the-mill ones.

"You've to see how the director Vikram Bhatt has cut the scenes. I'm very happy with the movie."

Rampal says he has become very selective about his roles.

"I never want to be typecast in either action or comedy. I'm more than willing to walk that extra mile to get a role that would challenge me as an actor. I do see a growth in myself as an actor. When other people notice it, it feels good. If I can get my hand on scripts with more than a surface value to it, I'm thrilled."

He agrees that the one big project that would catapult him to fame is missing from his career. "But I don't think I'm making any wrong career moves."

Arjun vehemently opposes the view that filmmakers sign on any star they get for any role. "Not true! Everyone has a place... And if I get a certain price it's because I know I deserve it."

He pooh-poohs the rumour that he's asking for too much money.

"Not at all. That's a rumour being spread by some people. I do charge my price. A director asked me to do his film for a lower fee. When I asked him why, he said the money saved on my fee could go into making a better product. I just asked him one question. 'Will this character immortalize me?' He had no answer."

Could this director be Ram Gopal Varma or Suneel Darshan?

"Now you're putting words in my mouth. Suneel Darshan did have a price problem with me. Didn't he make it vocally apparent?

"Varma had no such problem. He had even got my dates in place. Unfortunately, his location got cancelled. And I couldn't give him replacement bulk dates in the immediate future. As you know, I did quite a few films last year. That's why I couldn't do Varma's 'Vastu Shastra'."

Does that mean less work for Rampal in 2005?

"I'm just going to relax and read a lot more scripts. My new release 'Elaan' is a multi-starrer. So was 'Aankhen'. I think it's great to work with other actors. You get to see your colleagues at work and you learn. My interaction with my co-stars in both my new films was fantastic.

"In 'Vaada', Zayed Khan and I went to the same school, so we know each other. In 'Elaan' I got to work with the wonderful Mithun Chakraborty. All of us had seen his films. Mithun was so chilled out."

Did Rampal extend a helping hand to Rahul? "Rahul was so apprehensive, this being his first mainstream Bollywood film and all. I think he's done really well in the film. So has John."

As for his own performance, he says: "I'm really happy with myself in 'Elaan'. Vikram Bhatt has etched out my character really well. The role gives me a chance to do something I've never done before.

"But my next two releases 'Yakeen' with Priyanka Chopra and 'Dil Sachcha Aur Chehra Jhootha' with Diya Mirza are solo-hero films. In the latter, I get to do comedy for the first time. So there are no hard and fast rules about multi-starrers or solo-hero projects."

"I'm happy with my growth as an actor. It has taken me time to learn about scripts. This is an exciting phase for me. 2005 will hopefully be better for the film industry and me. I know people like me. Hope they like my films too."