The Mubarakan boys – Anil Kapoor (AK) and Arjun Kapoor (AK) – catch up with Box Office India girl Shweta Kulkarni (SK) – in the thick of their promotional spree and get some insightful nuggets about the film and the chacha-bhatija equation. Read on
Shweta Kulkarni: Promotions can be a hectic business. What do you think of the excessive marketing and promotional practices that most films adopt today?
Arjun Kapoor: Enough is never enough when you are marketing.
Anil Kapoor: There is an overload of information and content on every platform, so you need to underline your film and stand out. And I think things are changing, I think things will get more structure soon because everybody is learning and adapting to what works and what doesn’t work in films and marketing. Nothing is very wrong and nothing is very correct either.
Arjun Kapoor: There is no proven science that itne din karlo, itne din karne se yeh hoga, yeh karne se woh hojayega.
Anil Kapoor: I don’t think there is a formula and, somewhere down the line, people are filtering everything.
Arjun Kapoor: At the end of the day, your content has to work. Even if you market your film relentlessly, if your content doesn’t work, nobody will remember the marketing you did. They will always remember the content. Marketing always co-relates with what you have to say. That’s why marketing is a success or a failure depending on the material you create. It can’t just be marketing karlo but film mein kuch nahin hai. Marketing proves to be successful only when there is something to tell. The problem is that every film is marketed in same ways nowadays. Some work, some don’t. Marketing will possibly enhance your first day; beyond that, the film takes over.
SK: As actors, apart from the usual drill of participating in the promotional activities, how involved do you get with the process?
Arjun Kapoor: I try and use whatever I learnt from my earlier films. You offer your opinion, give your feedback, try and streamline things from your point of view because, at the end of the day, there is always a plan but the execution depends on us. Sometimes you do offer your two cents and if it works for everyone, you do it. For instance, today’s event… Anil Chachu and I said let’s do something for the film in a celebratory fashion. That’s how the idea for today’s event came up. That’s team effort, at the end of the day.
SK: Mubarakan’s trailers have impressed many. What are your expectations from the film?
Anil Kapoor: Every time an actor does a film, he expects it to do well. So I think this film should do well and be appreciated. Also, Mubarakan is not just an entertainer. Yes, first and foremost, we want the film to entertain but there is something more to it. You have to watch the film to know what that is. Mubarakan is definitely more than an entertainer.
SK: This is the first time one will get to see this real chacha-bhatija jodi onscreen. Was the casting accidental?
Anil Kapoor: Initially, Arjun was not a part of the film. A dear friend, Ashwin Varde, who was a part of your fraternity, messaged me saying there was this script and Sony was involved and backing the project, and that they were on board as partner-producers. He said he wanted to narrate the script to me. Since Ashwin is a friend, I said I must listen to it. Otherwise, it would have taken much longer for me to listen to it. I listened to it and liked it in the first narration itself, and I said yes. At that time, there was nobody else on board. That’s how the journey started.
SK: At what point did Arjun come on board?
Anil Kapoor: First Anees (Bazmee) Saab came on board. Then we all felt that we should approach Arjun. The producers asked me if I could call Arjun and check whether he was interested. So I made a call to him and said, ‘The choice is yours but listen to it first.’ I just made one call, that’s it.
SK: What are the pros of working with a member of your family?
Anil Kapoor: Arjun is not… hmmm… It depends on who the family member is. For example, Arjun is a very hardworking guy, he is very passionate about commercial cinema, mainstream cinema, and it was very important for this film that we have an actor who is as passionate about mainstream cinema as we were. He had worked with me and Anees as an assistant on No Entry. Boney and I have produced films together and he has seen those films, they have been usually successful, and he knows that there is a lot of hard work that goes into making films like this, and if it connects with the audience, it’s got a big reach.
It has to connect first. The film has to be good. The story telling has to be good. The direction has to be good, star cast has to be good, when it connects, it connects. And Arjun knows those sensibilities, so I was happy that he said yes to the film. Once he did, I was, like, now we have the correct cast of chacha-bhatija. If anyone else was my bhatija or my bhanja, it would have been equally good but it was perfect because he is my bhatija in real life too.
The equation was excellent. And he is also the kind of person who connects with films like these. And I have been connected with Arjun for many years, ever since he became this young man who had decided to work in this profession. He was an assistant during Salaam-E-Ishq also. So we had a connection apart from being related and that helped tremendously in the film. And, of course, he was experienced enough to come on board and deliver what the director asked him to deliver.
Arjun Kapoor: When you are working with family, there’s no ice to break. At the end of the day, off the sets, between shots, you don’t need to form any equations, you don’t need to be wary of how to take conversations further. You can take the person just the way you know him in real life and he is the same between shots too. He is still going to be my chacha in the middle of two takes, and we are going to have normal conversations.
SK: Arjun, you have seen him and watched his films since you were a child but when you were working with him, you must have had a different equation with him. How do you creatively feed off him?
Arjun Kapoor: I try to observe and learn. At the end of the day, what you take away from the other person is entirely up to you. His energy is infectious and I used to try and adapt to it. Some people like to fight energies whereas I like to blend with it. It suits me, it suits the film, it suits the characters, the character is larger than life and he is out there embracing his character with full energy. So that energy allowed me to be energetic about my own character and I embraced that. I think this film needed that energy.
Most importantly, you have to be disciplined enough to know what you are doing, to make the other actor comfortable with you, to interact with you. It would have been terrible if I had come unprepared, taking it for granted that since he is my chacha, I could make mistakes and do what
I wanted to. That would have been
If you come prepared, any actor would be happy to have a fellow actor to feed off. Or I can provide something to him and I can improvise with him because he knows his job. That is always a basic starting point, and as an actor, I would want my co-actor to be giving me enough scope to improvise with him in a comedy.
So I came prepared, so that I could imbibe the improvisation from him. I could give it back, I could take it back. It was always like ki agar main thik thak tyaari karke jaunga toh he will be more comfortable, he wouldn’t have to worry about protecting me. I didn’t want him to think about that because at the end of the day, first, you have to perform well as an actor. I didn’t want him to have to worry about me. So I put my best foot forward.
In a way, that was a tribute to my upbringing in the family. I have seen how he has worked over the years. So if he sees a reflection of that in me, he will obviously feel that it was worth investing time and energy in
SK: Anil, you have known him as a kid, you have seen him behind the camera, you have watched his movies… Did you discover something new about him while working on this film?
Anil Kapoor: I discovered a lot. I said, this guy is good, yaar. Yeh toh zabardaast hai. He is fantastic. He kept me on my toes.
Arjun Kapoor: Which is not easy. His energy on the sets is amazing. He is like a steam sauna spa for people. They feel refreshed around him. He is like a full 24-hour spa. Something as simple as chalo khana khate hai, he can make it sound like such a big, positive event. People feel charged ki chalo main aaj khana khata hoon. But it is, like, chalo khana hi toh khana tha. He motivates you that much. He is encouraging about everything. His light transcends to other people. You know, some people can suck your energy but he makes you feel charged. He gives out so much positivity. And it comes from the top, the most successful…
Anil Kapoor: (Cuts in) Senior…
Arjun Kapoor: No, the most unassuming person about his success, who asks the cameraperson and the spot boy about their well-being. So he passes on his positivity to every person on the sets. He keeps the whole unit happy and that translates onscreen.
Anil Kapoor: For me, once Arjun came on board, I knew everything was going to be fantastic. He is playing a double role, for example, he is Charan from Chandigarh and Karan from London. Each of these characters has to look different and be different and Arjun aced it, not only in terms of his physicality but in his attitude, behavior and dialogue delivery.
Obviously, the biggest advantage was that the material was so good, and when your material is good, half the challenges are dealt with. The casting was right. Once he said yes to the film, I got a very positive feel about the film. I was like, ‘Yeh baat bangayi hai.’ So every step of Arjun, in the film, has made me happier. And when I saw him for the first time in Chandigarh in the character of a sardar, I was, like, ‘Saala, yeh toh bohut zyada hi handsome lag raha hai.’ His height, his personality, his persona… and I saw girls going to him and I was, like, ‘Are wah!’
SK: There must have been a certain pride as well that humara bacha…
Anil Kapoor: (Cuts in) Bacha koi nahi hai, sab equal hai. I have never treated him like a bacha. He is an equal. So I was very excited when he gave the clap. After he returned from the first schedule, I asked the producer how it was and he said ‘mind-blowing’. I was, like, mera career toh secure hogaya.
SK: How would you describe the shooting process?
Anil Kapoor: This is one of the fastest films Anees has made. It was done in one shot. When you go to a restaurant, it hits the spot if it is fresh. This film is fresh because it happened fatafat. Likha, conceive kiya shoot kiya, release kiya within six months. From February to July 28th, it was done. The songs, the nuances, the performances, the content everything is garma garm.
Arjun Kapoor: We decided to do the film in September-October; we started in January and announced the release date within nine months.
Anil Kapoor: And it has a lot of VFX too because of his double role, so there is a lot of post work as well.
Arjun Kapoor: We even shot it with a fresh mindset and this comes across in the film. It looks like idhar shaadi ho rahi hai, bagal main, chalo jaate hai. We finished shooting in April and we are releasing it now.
SK: Did your chacha-bhatija equation change in any way due to the film?
Arjun Kapoor: We ended up speaking about things which we normally don’t get time to speak about because he is busy with his life and I am busy with mine. As close I was to Sonam, Rhea and Harsh, I think they will be a little jealous of the fact that I have become closer to him now. Now we have become friends; it’s gone beyond being just chacha-bhatija. It was never was a typical chacha-bhatija relationship anyway.
Anil Kapoor: That’s what I am saying, working with a family member depends on who the family member is. For me, it is tough to work with a family member. For example, Sonam doesn’t want to work with me.
Anil Kapoor: I don’t know why.
Arjun Kapoor: She will change her mind after she watches Mubarakan.
Anil Kapoor: To be honest, Arjun, if I ever direct a film, I would love to direct her. Because I feel she is a kind of a canvas where there is so much to fill in, in terms of the colors.
Arjun Kapoor: Yes, after so many years, she still has untapped potential.
Anil Kapoor: You can do so much with her. You can mould her into any character, and she has a freshness to her because she has done so little work. But she doesn’t want to work with me. Direct toh she will never work. Acting… maybe I will convince her.
Arjun Kapoor: Working with family is never easy. But you have to find your rhythm. Or you have to start look at it as beyond working with family. You have to start finding a new equation, a new relationship that goes beyond your existing relationship.
Anil Kapoor: The biggest advantage of working on this film was that that Arjun had seen Anees and me working and his father and me working on making films like this.He is aware of the hard work that goes into films like this. He had a certain kind of respect for this kind of content. They are entertainers but there is a lot of work that goes into them and he didn’t come into this project looking down upon it or just making it a professional, monetary decision.
When he came in with that mindset, with that kind of positive attitude, it worked for all of us. What happens is that youngsters today… the atmosphere is such at the moment… they think this is not as cool as doing a film which is slightly niche. What happens then, this is visible in the body language and onscreen.
Arjun Kapoor: They are very detached. Main apna kaam karke ghar jaa raha hoon.
Anil Kapoor: When he came with that attitude, he got attached to the project. And that’s what we gained from each other on this film.
SK: Arjun, you had not done an out-an-out comedy before this. Were you waiting for a project like this to come along?
Arjun Kapoor: I was waiting to do a comedy and I was very clear that if I did one, I didn’t want to be apologetic about it.
Anil Kapoor: Sorry to cut you off… I just feel that because the biggest advantage of Anees Bazmee is that his comedy is always very universal, very situational, and you don’t really go out to do comedy-comedy. Nothing is forced. So, for an actor, I would always advise… any of the young actors… any of us also… or seniors… that it is important to work on content. Comedy needs to be very well written. Mubarakan has a well-written script, it is situational, it’s not slapstick…
Arjun Kapoor: And it is challenging in a nice way. You don’t have to do comedy, you have to keep a poker face and deliver your lines. Like, ‘Chachu kya kar rahe ho marr jayenge.’ People laugh but you do it with all honesty. Like, ‘Meri shaadi tudwado.’ It’s one of the most serious things a bhatija can ask his uncle to do. And suddenly that’s funny for people. It is that kind of film and, yes, I was excited to do comedy. I wanted to work with the correct people. Like Anil chachu said, you need a good director, you need a good script…
Anil Kapoor: (Cuts in) ..And good co-stars. Whether drama, a thriller, romance… you can do good faces, good photography, good clothes, you can still get away with it. In drama, low angle shots create the mood. In a thriller, you have a great editor, great writing. You are running from here to there, char expression diya, but comedy is very very…
Arjun Kapoor: …Naked
Anil Kapoor: Ya, naked, no camera angle, and you need good actors to feed off, to connect with. If you get stuck in a comedy with an actor who cannot give you the right timing, your scene will fall flat.
Arjun Kapoor: So I was in good hands. I had Anil chachu and Anees sir, who were very protective. They allowed me to play, they allowed me to learn, they allowed me to do my thing, and not once was there that aise kare waise kare. It was their presence on the sets that allowed me to do what was right for the film. So I would say that Mubarakan was a great journey.