The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of travel and promotions for Ranbir Kapoor—though if we look back, it’s really the past few months that have been a rollercoaster ride for this incredible actor. He’s 15 years and 17 films into the industry, now returning to the big screen with Shamshera, four years after his last release, Sanju (2018). But hiatus or not, Ranbir was and will always remain the ultimate superstar; his charm, versatility, easy-going and affable nature, exceptional screen presence and effortless dancing skills endearing him to millions worldwide.
HELLO! gets candid with Ranbir on Shamshera—which releases today!—his choice of scripts, love for music, life with Alia Bhatt and soon becoming a dad.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt Pregnancy Announcements
HELLO!: Shamshera, Brahmastra, marriage and a child on the way… It’s been quite a rollercoaster of a year for you. How are you taking it all in?
RANBIR KAPOOR: I’m embracing it all every day, with a lot of happiness in my heart. I have been working on these two films for four to six years, so I’m both excited and nervous. Becoming a parent is something I’ve always dreamed of. It’s probably going to be the most challenging role I play in my life!
H!: Please give us a peek into your life with Alia Bhatt. How do you both complement each other? What are the traits you admire the most in her?
RK: I don’t think I can summarise my relationship with Alia or what I admire about her. What I can say is that I respect, love and admire her a lot. She’s the most beautiful thing to happen to me, and I really want to protect that as much as I can.
H!: Congratulations on the big news! How excited are you to be a dad? Do you feel ready for the biggest role of your life?
RK: I’m extremely excited! But you’re always going to be unqualified to do something of this nature. I probably will feel qualified once it happens. So I’m terrified, excited and nervous all at once. It’s going to change both our lives.
H!: Wake Up Sid, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Rockstar and Tamasha… You excel at playing a young man in the midst of the transition in their lives. Shamshera seems to be quite the departure from that. How do you go about selecting a script? Is it instinctual?
RK: Yeah, it starts with instinct. You hear the story, and it gives you an instinctive feeling. Of course, the director and your character matters, but ultimately, it’s your gut that speaks to you. A voice tells you that this is a story you must be a part of; this is the kind of film you want audiences to experience.
The timing of when you’re offered a certain project is also important. Sometimes you know you’re not in a headspace to do a film; you’re busy and may miss out on a great project. Then there’ll be times when you don’t have a film and a not-so-great project comes along. You know at that point that you just want to do some work.
H!: You’re quite heavily invested in the songs of your movies, as well, right?
RK: Music really adds to a star’s life. If you think about the superstars of our yesteryears, the first aspect of their work that you remember about them are their songs. I’m a very musical person—though I can’t sing to save my life. But I really enjoy the process of making music for a film. From Saawariya right down to Shamshera, I’ve been part of the music recordings for every film of mine. I’ve known the music directors and singers on a personal level, and I think their voices and compositions always lend a tone to the film. I use that as one of my methods to get into the character.
H!: We live in such a digital age, yet there’s no trace of you on social media—besides your fan clubs, including the ‘Ralia’ ones. Why do you keep away from the online world?
RK: It was a conscious decision I had made very early on in my life. I guess I’m more comfortable staying away from these platforms. I’m very happy with the medium I have to express myself—cinema—and I’m happy just doing that.
H!: Losing Rishiji was incredibly saddening for everyone who knew and loved him. Between his illness and being there for family, shooting for multiple projects must have been harrowing…
RK: Yes, it was. Losing a parent will always be one of the biggest life-changing moments in any individual’s life. I don’t know whether I’ve really found any closure regarding that… But I miss him every day of my life, and I hope wherever he is, he’s at peace and he’s happy.
H!: How excited were you about your mother’s comeback with Jugg Jugg Jeeyo? How was it watching her on the big screen again?
RK: I was very excited! My mother gave up her career at a very young age for me and my sister. To finally see her enjoying herself and receive so much love for her work from people is something I always expected because she’s such a fun-loving person. She’s so positive, and I’m really proud that she’s keeping herself busy. She’s also excited as an actor. She’s taking acting classes, diction classes, dance classes… To see someone at this age as excited as a newcomer is really heartwarming.
H!: What was it about the script of Shamshera that attracted you? What do you think audiences will love about the period drama?
RK: The first time I heard the script, I was really taken aback because I’m not usually offered films of this genre or characters of this nature. I completed 15 years as an actor, having done a certain kind of film. So I was really excited to embark on the next phase of my career and do films that appeal to a larger audience. Shamshera fell under that bracket. It also came with a fantastic director, Karan Malhotra, someone I wanted to partner with. It’s really been the toughest film of my career—physically, mentally, emotionally—and I hope people like it.
H!: You wanted to play the dual father-son role in Shamshera. Did you have to prepare differently for the two characters?
RK: It was very challenging. I offered myself to play the father’s role; I was only offered the role of Balli initially. So I shot myself in the foot, so to speak. But as an actor, I was selfish because I knew they were two very juicy characters in which I could showcase myself. It was like doing two movies simultaneously because Shamshera and Balli, though father and son, are very different in personality. I always try my best to make my characters relatable, to make people empathise with them. And more than me speaking about them, I’d really like the audience to experience them. Maybe they can tell me how I played both the characters differently.
H!: You seem to share great on-screen chemistry with Vaani Kapoor. What was it like working with her?
RK: Chemistry is written on paper, when the director is very clear about the characters and the story. That’s where the actors come in. Of course, we bring our own perspective of a character, our own interpretation and talent. Vaani is extremely hard-working and disciplined. She’s a method actor. She was always concentrating on her work, listening to her music and trying to stay in the zone. So it was really lovely working with her. I’m glad people like our chemistry in the song ‘Fitoor’, but there’s so much more to her character arc and our dynamic in the film. I’m looking forward to the audience’s reaction to that.
H!: What about even Sanjay Dutt—especially after Sanju!
RK: He’s someone I’ve loved and admired all my life. I got to play him in a biopic. And to finally work on a film of this nature, with Sanjay Dutt as the antagonist, is every hero’s dream because the stronger the antagonist, the stronger the hero’s victory. So he makes me look good. Apart from our professional relationship, I have a very deep love for him. He treats me like a son; he’s always supported and encouraged me, spoiled me and also reprimanded me when I’m wrong. So I’m very lucky to have that relationship in my life, one that I hope to nurture.
H!: The VFX in Shamshera has already received much praise, and you have Brahmastra coming up next. Do you think Indian audiences are ready to see their much-loved Bollywood movies go down this path?
RK: Absolutely. I always believe that VFX and technology go hand-in-hand with filmmaking, to tell a story in a new, engaging, novel way. VFX is not the highlight of the film. It’s used as a tool to transport audiences to the director’s imagination. You see the film in different landscapes; you show them things in cinema that they probably haven’t experienced or witnessed before. The VFX team of Shamshera put in a lot of hours to give the film a new dimension, something the Indian audience has not experienced before.
H!: Now that we’re all set to see you in an action film, what else can we expect from you? Can you tell us about your future projects?
RK: I have really exciting projects coming up. After Shamshera, there’s Brahmastra releasing on September 9. Then I have a Luv Ranjan untitled film with Shraddha Kapoor. It’s a hilarious family rom-com, a feel-good film I had an amazing time shooting for. Then I have Animal with Sandeep Reddy Vanga. Again, it was a character with grey shades that shocked me when I first heard the script. It’s a crime thriller about family, a love story between a father and son. I’m quite excited and anxious about how audiences will accept me in that part.
Editor: Ruchika Mehta; Styled By: Anaita Shroff Adajania; Assited By: Chandani Mehta; Photographer: Madhu Akula; Hair: Ajay Kaloya; Make-Up: Ajay Naik