August 19, 2010 (Sampurn Wire): On the eve of the release of his latest film, Amol Palekar's And Once Again (English), Rajat Kapoor confesses to Sampurn Wire's Jyothi Venkatesh that he never wanted to be an actor at all and had always wanted to be a filmmaker and his biggest priority is direction even today.
What is your role in Amol Palekar's "And Once Again"?
The role that I play in Amol Palekar's film "And Once Again", in which I have been teamed opposite two pretty girls- Antara Mali and Rituparna Sengupta, is quite a meaty one. It is a role every actor would love to sink his teeth into. All roles that an actor gets to play are complex by nature. As an actor, it is your job to find out what actually makes the role, depending upon the script and the situation given to you as an actor. It is an actor's job to do his role differently after finding out that moment of truth.
How was the experience of working with an actor turned director like Amol Palekar?
It was a wonderful experience working with a director like Amol Palekar, who has his own set of rules. Amol is a very strict director who succeeds in making a film in a span of 25 days in a small budget on his own terms and conditions. I admire Amol because he has a definite vision as a director, like Saurabh Shukla, who is also basically an actor on his own right.
How tough was it for you to prepare for your part in Amol's film?
As an actor, I do not believe in preparing for my part or for that matter doing any research before I set out to play his role. For me what is very important is the look of the character that I set out to do. I make it a point to work very hard on my look. I discuss with my director what exactly the character that I play will have to wear, what kid of gait he should sport and what kind of gait he should have. These are the things which are important to me as an actor. As an actor what you require is to live every moment with the truth of the character.
Is it true that you have reservations about taking up offers in commercial films?
Contrary to the prevalent notion that I make it a point to avoid acting in mainstream cinema, because I have my own reservations about doing mainstream films, the fact is that I have acted in films like Run, Corporate, Dil Chahta Hai and Kisna. However, I feel that the biggest problem with the mainstream film makers is that they often tend to cast me in stereo typed roles. That is the main reason why you do not get to see me more often in mainstream cinema.
Which is your first love- acting or direction?
Till date, I have directed as many as five films. Believe it or not, the truth is that I never wanted to be an actor at all. In fact, I had always wanted to be a filmmaker. My biggest priority, if you ask me, is direction even today. Acting came to me by chance, by default. I went to FTII to study direction. Though people know me today as a director, I feel that I am a director. Whatever I am today and wherever I am today as an actor, I am grateful to filmmakers who are responsible for this but I did not dream of becoming an actor. It just happened.
Since you are a director on your own right, how do you manage to control the director in you on the sets when you act with a director?
Whenever I am asked to act, I never question my director, though I myself am also a director on my own right. When I act, I stick to acting because it is my belief that there can be only one captain in a ship. If you agree to be a part of a project of a director, you have got to submit yourself to his or her vision, whether you are a Marlon Brando, Shah Rukh Khan or for that matter even Aamir Khan. There can be no exception to the rule. Actors like Marlon Brando, Aamir or for that matter Shah Rukh Khan have been in the business for a long time and hence, understand how films are made and how complicated is filmmaking and so they respect the director.
What lured you to say yes to Amol when he asked you act in "And Once Again"?
The reason why I decided to act in And Once Again for a director like Amol Palekar, is that besides the fact that I was getting to act with a director like Amol Palekar, the role offered to me was very meaty. The character that I play in the film is an intense and traumatised guy who is going through a very turbulent phase in his life. I was also quite comfortable working with an actress of the caliber of Rituparna Sengupta, who plays my architect wife in the film, because earlier I had worked with her in Anthony's Bengali film Anuranon.
Which are the films which you are having up your sleeves?
I have quite a few exciting projects like Aparna Sharma's Bengali film Iti Mrinalini, in which Konkana Sen Sharma plays the role of an actress whereas I play the role of a film director, Subhash Kapoor's With Love To Obama starring me along with Sanjay Mishra, Amol Gupte, Manorishit Chaddha and Neha Dhupia, in which I play an NRI who comes back to India thanks to the recession and how he gets kidnapped, Sharad Kataria's 10 ml Love based on Midsummer Night's Dream starring me with Purab Kohli, Koel Puri and Tisca Chopra, in which I play a jealous husband who sells oil on the streets but cannot handle his wife , played by Tisca. Besides these films, I'm also there in Saurabh Shukla's Love Teda Meda and I Am 24, in which I have been teamed opposite Majari Fernandes and play a middle aged guy who meets a beautiful girl on the net and tell her that he is 24 .
Is there any plan to direct a film now?
I have to my credit films like Private Detective, Raghu Romeo, Mixed Doubles and Mitya as a director. Now I am directing an interesting film called Fatso starring Purab Kohli, Gul Panag and Ranvir Shorey, who plays a fat guy who falls in love with Gul Panag. I go by my own script. I believe that a filmmaker has to have a unique vision of his own. What you say and how you say that is equally important. You can tell even a boring story in a very interesting way. I work hard on my scripts when I set out to direct a film.
-- Jyothi Venkatesh / Sampurn Wire