Arjun Rampal on The Last Lear and Om Shanti Om

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Arjun Rampal’s career in Bollywood is certainly on an upswing. He has several good performances all ready in the bank in the films, Aankhen, Tehzeeb, Dil Hai Tumhara, Ek Ajnabee, and Don. However, now with two of his latest projects getting ready to hit the Cineplex, he may finally be coming into the next level of his career. Releasing in the next few months, Arjun has roles in two highly anticipated movies, The Last Lear and Om Shanti Om.

Talking about the films, Arjun said that they were very different from each other. He said, “The Last Lear moves towards serious parallel cinema, with a commercially successful cast. It’s an English language film as opposed to Om Shanti Om, which is being marketed as the biggest Indian commercial film ever.

In The Last Lear, I play a filmmaker –a director who wants to cast in his film an ageing Shakespearean theatre actor, played by Amitabh Bachchan. The film is about different relationships and how the unification of the actor and director in the film takes over and changes everyone’s life.”

Working with director Rituparno Ghosh was a challenging experience as an actor. “Ritu is one of the most intense directors I have worked with and the layers in each character are fascinatingly. He is fantastic at extracting good performances from his actors and I feel everyone who is part of The Last Lear feels special. The film was shown at the Toronto Film Festival a few weeks ago and was received extremely well. So some of the pressure is off.”

Adding, “I’ve never worked so intensely on any film before; with Ritu as a director, we had to learn and study the characters in depth. It’s not like every film Ritu makes is the ‘arty’ kind, believe me, this movie is racy and it’s treated like a thriller. Call it an ‘artistic thriller’.”

The Last Lear is the third film that Rampal has been in with the legendary Amitabh Bachchan. “Yes, Aankhen was the first. What can one say about him? He is a genius and definitely the best costar one can have. His performance in The Last Lear is like sheer poetry. I think we both have something special onscreen. I felt it when I saw Ek Ajnabee and now again with The Last Lear.”

Speaking about Om Shanti Om, Arjun said that though different and more commercial, his role was very challenging to portray, “Om Shanti Om is a commercial potboiler with something for everyone. I think the toughest role I have done is that of Mukesh Mehra in Om Shanti Om because he is the coldest and meanest character I have played. He is eccentric, tricky and vicious and, trust me, I am none of these in my personal life. So it was hard for me initially. Then I got into my character and began having fun with it. Anyway as an actor, I think it is important to play different roles and it is rare that you get a chance to play a 30-year-old and then 65 in such a big commercial film. I am glad Shah Rukh Khan and Farah Khan thought of me for this role.”

He feels that the way Bollwood films are being made is changing. “The time of single hero films is gone. Today, films are more character centric and therefore one has to be a part of a film and not the other way around when films were based around a particular star. Thank God for that, otherwise we will never make good films.”

Arjun loves both action films and romantic ones. “Great action and a beautiful girl to romance. Can’t refuse either. Would you?”

One of his favorite things is to perform the song and dance sequences in film and on stage. “Yes, I do. Especially after the world tours. The encouragement I received out there from fans helped me lose my inhibitions. So a big thanks to my fans.”

Speaking about his charity work, Arjun said, “I have hardly done that much. There is a lot more we all need to do. God has given me a good life and I feel we all must help in our own small ways, without getting pretentious or looking for your own benefits all the time.”

What’s next for this talented star, Arjun says of his future plans; “Many more great stories and films.”

Adding maybe even a foray into Hollywood, “If you ask me why I haven’t thought of Hollywood — I didn’t get that kind of script for long here. But now I’ve started getting some good scripts, so I’d love to do films in the West next. Why only act? I want to make films that I can take to the West and around the world.”

One reporter gave him the title of himbo because of his good looks, perfect body and to die for voice, but now he is set to prove that he is not just a pretty face, he is also a great actor as well.

We look forward to seeing his performances in these two films and for many more films to come.

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