Why Arjun Rampal finds acting 'therapeutic'

The Bollywood actor will be seen in crime thriller Nail Polish out on January 1


Ambica Sachin

Published: Thu 31 Dec 2020, 5:28 PM

Last updated: Tue 12 Jan 2021, 4:42 PM

When model-turned-actor Arjun Rampal sauntered onto the big screen in 2001 (Pyaar Ishq Aur Mohabbat) his chiselled features grabbed as many eyeballs as his understated acting style. A few years later when he turned into a producer, the shift seemed seamless with his appearances in movies like Don - The Chase Begins Again and Om Shanti Om further cementing his Bollywood identity. He then went on to scoop the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor for his angst-ridden lead guitarist role in Rock On!! in 2008. If in Rajneeti he wowed with his sardonic act as a political scion in a power-packed performance alongside an ensemble cast, in movies like Chakravyuh, Heroine and Daddy, a biopic on gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli, he was equally impactful.


Right now he is prepping for the release of courtroom drama Nail Polish that drops on ZEE5 on January 1. The actor was at home in Mumbai, when City Times caught up with him over Zoom and we were privy to a slightly philosophical side to a man who has consistently made it into the ‘most desirable’ lists over the years. While 2020 has been particularly challenging year for many of us, for the actor in particular it has been an extremely trying time. The lockdown and the ensuing halt of all filming projects meant artists were stuck at home; for Rampal an extra impetus to stay at home he admits was an opportunity to bond with his one-year old son Arik who he and his partner Gabriella Demetriades welcomed in 2019. He laughingly remarks that having got to spend more time with his son at home during the lockdown, “the mother (Gabriella) is super jealous and I love that!”

“It is also sad, because I want to take him to a park and make him run around and play and there is that fear constantly in your head that you can’t do all of those things,” he says.

He adds they are very fortunate they have their loved ones close, unlike the homeless who he sees while out on a run “sitting on the streets with sadness in their eyes, abandoned not knowing what’s going to happen. “The uncertainty in their eyes was just terrible to see,” he remarks.

Rampal whose initial reaction to being approached with the role of Advocate Sid Jaisingh in the courtroom thriller Nail Polish was, “No, I’m not stepping out of my home during the pandemic. I have a one year old baby at home - there is no way I’m taking those chances,” was however floored by the “fantastic script”. The actor is all praise for Bugs Bhargava Krishna who he refers to as one of the most giving directors he has worked with.

“It has got powerhouse performances so I’m super excited to be on a platform that I’ve been on before,” he tells us.

Nail Polish is a crime thriller that centres around a high profile defense lawyer (Arjun Rampal) who is promised a Raja Sabha seat if he wins the case of Veer Singh (Manav Kaul) a man who stands accused of murdering 38 children.

Acting alongside theatre stalwarts like Manav Kaul, Rajit Kapur and Anand Tiwari he says was easy “ because it wasn’t acting, you are in a zone and you are playing with each other.”

All the characters are so well defined and clear that after a point it was like talking to that person and not to a Rajit or Anand, he elaborates.

“When you have such fantastic actors around you it makes you life so much easier.”

Rampal avers at this stage of his career the “story” is the biggest draw for him: “How challenging is it going to be…is this character going to uproot me.”

For him acting is “therapeutic”. “It is nice to go and get lost in that world…” he says almost nostalgically.

“Sometimes you get characters where you want to express so much of your self and you don’t get the opportunity to do that or you don’t know how to say it and you can hide behind those characters and then voice yourself. That kind of makes it real - that kind of makes it more humane, to find a human side and your arc…”

Perhaps it this desire that drew him to the big screen itself in the first place

“As a child I’d run to the theatres and watch all the movies first day first show, just to get transported into a different world,” he reminisces.

He still holds close to the theory that “every film should release in theatres.”

“I just find it extremely fascinating and romantic to go and watch a movie in a theatre,” he admits.

“You buy popcorn, you sit with a bunch of strangers, and you are transported into a different world. I think that’s beautiful, because you are just with those characters on the big screen.”

He isn’t averse to OTT platforms either. After Nail Polish he will be seen in Netflix’s Penthouse.

He admits if Nail Polish was considered for just a theatrical release “it would have found very few people backing it or investing in it because it’s niche.”

“What OTT does is, it gives you that freedom,” he explains.

He is also a big proponent of the “word of mouth” promotion that can take a film/web series to the next level.

“In recent times I would say the best example of that would be Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story; not a very known star cast, on a platform which was not really established - but wow, what a great response.”

“The whole medium of OTT penetrates widely and deeply and the beauty of it is that it is there. Its not like in the theatres where movies come and it is gone, and then you watch it on Satellite one day or it comes to an OTT platform, it will always pop up.”

Arjun’s biggest takeaway from 2020

Besides the movies that keep him busy, Arjun has also been in the eye of a controversy with the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) probing his involvement in the Bollywood-drug nexus following the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput. The 47-year old actor’s residence had been raided and he had been called in for frequent questioning in the case that has shocked many in the industry. Ask him what’s been the biggest takeaway from all the travails he’s faced and he gets that slightly far off looks. Then with a smile: ““Love, live. Forgiveness.”

“It’s not just one year,” he explains, “but for the past 5 years of my life, I’ve seen so much. There has been so many huge changes in my life - my mother battling cancer; my separation in my marriage; my new relationship with Gabriella; a baby coming in; there has been so much that has happened over the span of time,” he ruminates.

For an actor who doesn’t seem to be in a rush as far as his career is concerned, Arjun is pretty philosophical when we ask him how he hopes to be remembered by fans.

“One needs to realise that we are all small and insignificant in many ways - but even in our small way we can be significant and we can make such huge difference in life. One needs to realise that and go deep within and finds ones potential - what one needs to do then is go all out there and achieve it. Every day and every minute and every second matters.

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