Arjun Kapoor is playing a role of Sadashivrao Bahu in Ashutosh Gowarikar’s Panipat. In a conversation while promoting his film, he talks about his film, comparisons, his transformation, his mother and much more.
What kind of challenges you faced to play this role?
This story is important of course because this story has not been told in details in the history books. I think it is a patriotic film even though it is a war drama. It is a story of people, who created a huge powerful army for the first time so that they can fight with outsiders. It is a first war that we fought as united India.
I had to do lot of hard work, first I had to shave off my head, you have to let go of certain inhibitions, and you have to see that the Peshwa community should feel proud.
As an actor you are used to look and behave in a certain way. Hair is a like a jewellery for people, it would have been unfair if I would have used make-up to show half bald head. I learnt horse riding for two months, I think horse was one of the most important co-stars of my film, I had to learn javelin throw, because sphere was one of key weapons for Sadhashivrao Bhau, train in sword fighting.
I can understand Marathi, as I have learnt it in school and speak the language it is just that I was not confident. Since Ashutosh Gowarikar is Maharashtrian, he would correct me immediately.
Apart from this Sadhashivrao is known to be an unbending warrior, so why was he like that, what was his thinking and why didn’t he listen to everyone, who told him to go back? So it was important to understand his psychology. I had to do research on how he would behave differently with everyone around him.
Does it put pressure on you if director has lot of confidence in you?
More than pressure, I was excited when he told me that he wrote this role for me and he had done his completely research on me before offering it to me. Pressure comes when you get to know reactions. I will be honest and tell you that we always knew that people will remember Bajirao Mastani when they see Panipat, but we never thought that they will compare it and won’t appreciate it.
Our film is in same realm as Bajirao Mastani. It is like if Dhoni’s biopic is made then people should not make biopic on Yuvraj Singh. Post Uri we should not make war films or if Ranveer Singh has played a cop in Simmba then Varun Dhawan should not play a cop. So this is an extreme pressure that comes when you are doing such films comparisons are justified to certain extent.
People ask me were you worried about comparisons with Ranveer I want to tell them that I was worried about the fact that if I would have not gone bald, Peshwa community would got upset with me. So the pressure for me was always about looking authentic.
Both Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Ashutosh Gowarikar are different filmmakers, if you see their films they have different energies but they both are equally amazing for us to watch.
How was it to work with Sanjay Dutt?
When Ashu sir told me about Sanjay Dutt being part of this film, I said it is not going to work out. But all credit goes to him that he had imagine this and told me that he wants to see man vs. man fight, so he was confident about it. I had never met Sanju sir before I can into the industry; he had seen my films and then Maanyata mam called me for dinner.
I never knew that we share the commonality amongst us that is I lost my mother two months before my debut film released and he too lost his mother two months before his first film released.
We were eating with our hands and Maanyata pointed out that we were quite similar after that I always felt connect with him though I don’t know him really well. I was nervous to work with him. He is proper man child because he is carrying the burden of his life but he is like a kid.
Do you find change in yourself over the years?
I have always been a matured soul. I have seen many ups and downs in my life before I became an actor. I would hardly smile before, I was bit grumpy. Many people used to think that I am arrogant but I am not. I don’t give a chance to people to complaint. I would like to believe that I am better than I was before. Not only as an actor but as a human being also you try to improve and evolve.
I may have made mistakes. I feel I am much calmer now. I think ups and downs and physical changes happen in everyone’s life. I have been through enough hell so I think nobody can do any harm to me.
The point of being a star is surviving failure; most people throw it away when they get successful. It is difficult to survive failures which come after success. I think ups and downs are important it teaches you not to take things for granted. If I talk about my physical appearance, it was not like that I never wanted to be fit but I had some injuries.
I have always been 150 kilos when I was a teenager. I have a strong willpower but due to injuries you cannot do intense workout. Sometimes I think that I should have taken off for few months and lost a weight before doing my next film.
But I don’t think it was because of my weight some of my films worked and some of them didn’t work. I have seen many people who are fit but their films have not done well. Honestly I will never lose my maturity because I have gained it very early in life.
You have recently posted an old letter which you had written for your mother, what was the reason behind it?
Yes, my sister gave it to me; my handwriting was good that time. I started a new film and my one film is about to release. Many people call you, message you, praise you or criticise you but when I go back home, I have no one to share these things with. It is a feeling of incompleteness.
I have everything in my life but I cannot say these things to my mother because she is no more. Sometimes when you write nice stuff people get jealous of you but in very strange way, if you share your sadness it makes other people come out with their sorrows and then they can relate to you.
I felt lighter after I posted it because I felt happy that I had written this to my mother may be wherever she is she reads it or watches it. So many other people reacted to it and sometimes when you share such stories people feel certain connection with you.
I would want my mother to see this film and get her reaction, but when my mother is not there then what difference does it make to know that what others think as mother’s love is mother’s love after all.