“It shows their upbringing. It shows their thought process and it shows what they are made of. It doesn’t reflect badly on me. It reflects badly on them. They can hide behind nameless facades eventually, they know who they are. They get tremendous joy showing it to their friends, but I have the ability to fight it and lead a life with my head held high and I still go to work giving my 200% and I still lead my personal life with absolute honesty and sincerity. They are living a fake life and typing stuff to get their frustration out. Those same people will take a selfie with me. They will go watch my films if they are good, will click on my interviews and watch them. They will still follow me on Instagram. So who’s leading the lie and who is leading the honest life. You also have to understand there is a lot of angst in this country about a lot of things and very easy targets. Too easy perhaps. We have made ourselves available. We have created a monster known as media and social media because we are constantly there and we say things. We are available and we are clicked everyday. We are commented upon and it’s become normalised that people should have opinions. Everybody is a critic when they watch the film first day, first show. Pehle log picture pasand karne jaate the, ab log jaate hai ki hum review likhenge aur YouTube pe video banayenge. So conceptually what sells more? Clickbait, where there’s negativity, right?” he said.
Arjun further spoke about how even his transformation is looked down upon by the trolls. “Even when today I post a picture of transition from 2021- 21, I’m very aware I’ve kept the hair on my body and I’ve written that, but people will still find an excuse to type about that because they cannot appreciate. Some people have forgotten how to appreciate it and some portals of the media and those comments also some portals of the media pick up for their joy because they feel it clicks. So we have created this culture. We are all part of it and the trolls are only doing what they know will get them attention so it is a vicious cycle between actors being available, media consuming us in the you know and enjoying the negativity being available to put both the sides out and it being normalised for the common man saying we are allowed to have a negative opinion and share it constantly and get personal and derogatory because we are not going to be censored for it because we are accountable, we pay money to watch them. It is our choice as if we are not accountable we are allowed to have an opinion.
So please understand if I put up something on your building, forget Instagram, vo toh aap delete kar sakte ho, block kar sakte ho, restrict kar sakte ho, shaayad har comment nahi padhta koi. Main agar aapke building main, aapke notice board main, aapke baare main kuch derogatory likh ke chhod du bina apna naam likhe aur aapki puri building ko pata lagega, aur pure society main charcha hogi, aap cope hi nahi kar paaoge. Toh aap troll hoke mere baare main jo like rahe ho, aapka bhi socho ki aapki ma, aapki behen, aapki beti, aapke family members… kisi ke bhi baare main bhi hum notice board main likhenge toh aapki dhajiya ud jaaengi. Because you will lose perspective whether it is a lie or a truth. Your personal life has been spoken about, it has been gossiped about, it is being opinionated. Imagine living with that on a day to day basis and the fact that you have normalized it and you do it on a daily basis to make yourself feel better.”
Reacting to the trolls targeting Malaika Arora or his sisters Anshula, Janhvi or Khushi, Arjun added, “Imagine what people like us have to go through. I’m very thick skinned. I’ve had my family members go through it because of me. My sister had to suffer an accord for me being Arjun Kapoor. It is not her fault. I don’t have anything against people having an opinion but when they get personal, I just feel they have to introspect and look at the fact that they will not be able to cope with it if I had the ability. If I stand up in front of them and talk, I can give it back to them, they will not come and stand in front of me. So trolls, negativity and all that is been normalised too much by us. All of us and I think when that happens you have to detach yourself and stop caring about it because it’s not going to change. I mean I can give you this answer but it is not changing anything. I’m stating facts. It can make you introspect for a moment but you cannot stop people from commenting because nobody sees it the way perhaps I do or you do. People are just having fun at the risk of Bollywood,” he says.
But does he think that the entire family perhaps coming together post 2018 changed a lot of things for them? “I think I’ve spoken about it so much. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. It happened to me. It happened to both those girls. It happened to my father… I only did what I thought was right because that’s what my mom would expect me and Anshula to do and yeah we gained people who care about us and we were able to let go off some of the baggage, we were able to sort out some of the baggage. We were able to normalise certain issues in our lives. It is not like we keep saying this and I don’t say it in a bad way. We are not the perfect happy family but at least we are making an effort to make sure that we co-exist and are able to be there for each other in the best way possible. We are in a better place of course but we all have independent lives also so we don’t get to meet that often.
I’m very very fond of, I love having Janhvi and Khushi in my life. I love the fact that my father can now watch four of his kids sitting together and blabbering away while he’s busy on the phone, posting on Instagram still. He is the biggest child out of all of us but still every single day comes with its own set of challenges because we all don’t live together which is for the best, because we are all grown up and need our space. Am I better off without both of them in my life? Definitely. I am better off. I always believe I had my father in my life so I’m always happy about having new life but now I have two more people who really care about me and I care about them so I’m very, very happy and my sister is happy with both of them which I love.” he says.
Moving on to films, we asked Arjun if he would like to do a regional film? “It is a pointless debate,” he says. “Because films have no language barriers. I think we have appreciated European and Korean cinema for years. Nobody spoke about language then. The Malayalam audience has made some amazing films that I have appreciated on OTT. Because of the pandemic there’s more appreciation but those films are being made for so many years because their audience is a certain way. They have been appreciating this kind of work for years. Such a literal audience, they like to be pushed. My father’s remade Tamil and Telugu movies for years before they became something that is spoken about that is. Yeah I’ve wanted all his big hits. They have all been remade. He is now remaking films in Tamil and Telugu and he is remaking ‘Article 15’ which is going to release soon. For me language has never been a barrier in terms of creating content. I did an English film and I did ‘Finding Fanny’… I’ve been offered a few films which are regional. I’ve not been able to consider them because I’ve tried to make a foothold here I’m not against a reverse obviously I would like to do something that would enhance the prospect of me going and working in a language that is perhaps not my first speaking. So it would have to help me get into it and get comfortable. I truly appreciate there are so many like Kiara has done films there and today she is still working there. I don’t think it is a barrier. I think it is a boon.
We need to stop misinterpreting it, creating conversations that are pointless because this country was built on various different languages to begin with, different cultures to begin with. If we can just overlook all the silliness, we can just enjoy the films for what they are and learn. ‘Pushpa’ and ‘KGF2’ are there to teach us. It is a man who is a superstar and Kannada industry has made a film that has been appreciated by the country. Why should we not learn from that. He has taken a theme that is relevant throughout the country. A man going to war for his mother. It is a very relevant theme, it’s just as simple as that. It existed in Hindi for the longest time. They have been able to hold onto it. We have lost some of that connect with our audience as a Hindi film industry, that’s on us. We will regain it because our directors, producers and writers will reconnect with that audience.
We’ve also been chasing a lot credibility and OTT success because we have had the multiplex crowd emerging and being the money makers, now we realise that, but that audience we have not been catering to and they have always been catering to their whole audience. Because they make films for their fan bases and that is translating to being unknown and still becoming known quantities. Arjun today is a pan India star. He’s done very well in his part of the world for years, I have known about him. I’ve seen his first film, Sukumar made it, and I loved it. Arya was an amazing film and he has always been an amazing dancer, and ‘Pushpa’ has not even danced the way he normally does. He danced in character but the film worked because the content worked in pan India. We should learn out of that which again comes with the same thought. It is the rise from rags to riches in Hindi. We look at Wolf of Wall Street as rise to riches. There is no harm in accepting that sometimes we lose our way we should look at other people other languages to inspire us to come back on the right track,” Arjun concludes.