‘Apart from work, Ranbir has few interests.’
‘When he was not shooting, he could be lying on the bed, just staring fixedly at the ceiling.’
They have made just two films together, the last one seven years ago, but people still remember Rockstar and Tamasha fondly.
While shooting for them, Ranbir Kapoor and Director Imtiaz Ali were inseparable.
As Ranbir turns 40, Imtiaz chats with Rediff.com Senior Contributor Roshmila Bhattacharya, and shares his observations: “He is a keen observer, who quietly watches those around him when they are not looking.”
The first meeting
I saw Ranbir for the first time at Hotel President’s Thai Pavilion.
He had come with his parents and sister (Riddhima), I instantly recognised Chintuji (Rishi Kapoor) and Neetuji and I guessed that the two youngsters were their kids.
It was my first visit to Mumbai and I must have been around 25 then.
Ranbir was around 10 years younger; he looked very young with straight, floppy hair.
He was awkward through the evening and even fell off his chair.
‘I could see the passion and emotion the character evoked in him’
Years later, I dropped by his Bandra home (in north west Mumbai).
He had already had a release by then and I was hoping to persuade him to act in a film I had written.
No, it was not Rockstar.
But to my surprise, he reacted by saying, ‘Okay sir, but why don’t you narrate another story of yours?’
He had heard about Rockstar from a friend and it had sparked his interest.
I had written it earlier, but was not pushing it then.
However, with his request, I narrated it to him and he immediately said, ‘Let’s make this!’
Rockstar was not his story, but Ranbir could immediately see things from Jordan’s point of view.
I could see the passion and emotion the character evoked in him which convinced me that he was my rockstar.
‘Ranbir is interested in everything to do with films’
I took him to Delhi for the recce because he was a Bandra kid and I wanted him to see that terrain and get acquainted with it, so he could convincingly pass off as a middle-class boy from the capital in the film.
He would also join me for music recordings in Chennai.
When the shooting started, we were always hanging out together.
Even after pack-up, we would go on long walks and chat for hours, not just about Rockstar, but also other films and people.
He is a keen observer, who quietly watches those around him when they are not looking.
He is interested in everything to do with the films, the before, the after and everything in between.
‘Everything you see on screen are his inputs and his emotions’
During Rockstar, and later Tamasha, I always found him honest and forthcoming.
These stories were mine, but he completely internalised the characters and became Jordan and Ved.
Everything you see on screen are his inputs and his emotions.
He would read the script from the first page to the last every couple of days and there were more questions about where this guy came from, his music and the world of stage.
But apart from work, Ranbir has few interests.
When he was not shooting, he could be lying on the bed, just staring fixedly at the ceiling.
For an actor, he leads an unglamorous life.
‘He picked up Jordan’s laugh from Mohit Chauhan’
I saw Jordan grow before my eyes.
Ranbir picked up Jordan’s laugh from Mohit Chauhan (the singer who sang Rockstar’s popular songs).
The way Jordan walks in the scene where he meets Heer for the first time was also Mohit.
Ranbir is not a good singer, but he would sing the songs out loud.
He learnt how to play the guitar in the short time before we rolled and continued learning through the shoot.
When we were shooting the songs, I wanted him to get into Jordan’s mind and imbibe his attitude so I made him listen to a lot of international rock bands.
‘He left the live audience clapping and shouting’
In the scene where Jordan loses his mind while playing music, I told Ranbir let’s not try and work too hard on figuring out what he should do but just go with the flow.
I wanted him to go into Jordan’s space.
And he did!
He left the live audience clapping and shouting, and he left me spellbound and speechless, as I watched him draw energy from within and go crazy on stage.
I found a lot in common between Ranbir and Jordan as we rocked on.
They may appear soft and simple, but their emotional being is fragile which can lead to a feeling of incompleteness.
They are never at rest, but always seeking. It is from this seeking that their raw passion is born.
‘Ved is one of Ranbir’s most difficult characters, silent, almost amorphous’
Tamasha came four years after Rockstar and we were glad to be working together again.
Like during Rockstar, we would hang out a lot.
Tamasha was more romantic, but also a little obscure.
Ved is one of Ranbir’s most difficult characters because he is so silent, almost amorphous.
The passion, I noticed, was still burning.
He was still a seeker and remained a most truthful person.
As he turns 40, I hope I can come up with another story that will bring us together for the third time.
Till then, there is the magic we have created and the memories…
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