Raj Arjun (Farookh Malik)
Response to Secret Superstar
The response has been overwhelming. Usually, good work is appreciated and then everyone moves on. But, with Secret Superstar, I am getting some really amazing responses like, ‘We want to beat you up, we hate you!’ People have embraced my character completely. And that’s a huge achievement for me.
Bagging the role
My daughter Sara Arjun is a child artiste and I had taken her for an audition to Mukesh Chhabra’s office. While I was waiting outside, Mukesh spotted me and he told me they were auditioning for this character and would I be interested? I gave the audition but I didn’t hear back from them for a few weeks. So I called Mukesh, who told me he was no longer working on Secret Superstar. After a few months, Advait Chandan, the film’s director, messaged me on Facebook, saying he wanted to meet me. He had seen the audition and loved it!
When we met, he told me that Abhishek and Anmol were now working on the project. I did a kind of test shoot with Aamir sir (Khan). We all did the test shoot and then the film started rolling. The test shoot was for everyone. He wanted to see how Advait would look at the film, how every character would look.
Playing the bad father
I like to do as much prep as possible for my characters, so I ask the film’s director to brief me in detail on my character before I do my own research. I ask myself how will he behave, why is he behaving like this? I go into the character’s back story. When I started shooting the film, there were two people living the character of Farookh – one was myself and the other was Advait, as he was also very cautious about how this character was shaping up. That’s how Farookh’s character was done.
Journey so far
The journey has been very hard and there have been times when I have literally begged people for work. I started with television, where I was doing episodic series, then films like Company, Gayab, Darna Mana Hai and D Company. These were good films but I didn’t have much screen time in them. So there was always an emptiness inside me.
When I did Company with Ram Gopal Verma, people around him told me that he liked my work. And one day he offered me Shabri, where I played the lead. I thought finally I had got my due. We started shooting for Shabri in 2006 but then the film got stuck. Since I had done a lead role, I was rejecting most of the roles I was being offered as I wanted to do meaty roles. Years passed and Shabri released in 2011. But it released in only one or two cinemas as the producers wanted to release it on satellite. Not many people watched the film. People from the industry who had seen the film liked my work and appreciated it but I was still not getting what I was looking for.
I was doing some work but I was far from creatively satisfied. Survival itself was not a problem as I do not depend on films for a living. That’s why I could afford to be choosy. But there came a time when I started asking people for work. Then, after a few years, I was resigned to accepting anything that happened. I needed to believe in myself. I was also angry with myself as I thought I had failed as an actor. Then, slowly and steadily, work started trickling in but I was still dissatisfied as an actor.
Then, films like Rowdy Rathore, Thaandavam and now Secret Superstar happened. I hope I get more realistic roles in future.
Life after Secret Superstar
Life has changed and people are always coming up to me to talk about the film and my character. Also, industry folk that I have always wanted to work with are now giving me their blessings. So life has definitely changed after the film.