‘People call him Daddy’

Amrita Prasad
Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The film’s trailer looks promising and has already created a lot of buzz and curiosity among the audience. Daddy is scheduled to hit the theatres on September 8. We caught up with Arjun who was in the city to promote his forthcoming film and inaugurate PVR Cinemas at Kumar Pacific Mall, Swargate.

You will know why when you watch the film, says actor-producer Arjun Rampal, about his upcoming movie Daddy, based on the life of Arun Gawli.

Arjun Rampal is ageing like fine wine, looking sexier by the day. When the 6.1-ft tall actor, dressed in a pair of denims and a blue round collar full-sleeved t-shirt entered the audi of PVR Cinema in the city recently, his energy and radiant smile made several heads turn. Arjun has grown from being labelled as a ‘non-performer’ to being the National Award-winning actor and has donned the hats of producer and writer too. His work in films like Rajneeti, Rock On!, D-Day, Om Shanti Om among others in the last 16 years was much appreciated. The actor is now all geared up for the release of his next production Daddy where he will essay the role of gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli from Dagdi Chawl, Mumbai.

The film’s trailer looks promising and has already created a lot of buzz and curiosity among the audience. Daddy is scheduled to hit the theatres on September 8. We caught up with Arjun who was in the city to promote his forthcoming film and inaugurate PVR Cinemas at Kumar Pacific Mall, Swargate.

On becoming a writer
The film also stars Aishwarya Rajesh, Nishikant Kamat, Anand Ingale, and Rajesh Shringarpure among others. Arjun, who has also co-written the film, confesses that it was difficult to convince Gawli for the biopic.

He believes that when dealing with a subject like crime and politics, it is very important to get the facts straight. Ask him what made him become a writer and the actor says it all happened accidentally. “To me, Arun Gawli is an accidental don. Babu Reshim (Anand), Rama Naik (Rajesh) were instrumental in the BRA gang and Arun was always a third wheel so when he was left alone, he had nothing else to do but take over. Similarly, I became an accidental writer because when I went on to research on him, I realised that not much is written about him,” says Arjun who locked himself up in a hotel room for three months and met people from Dagdi Chawl, interacted with people of Gawli’s gang, his rivals, residents of the place and the police. “Each one had an amazing story to tell. I started putting all the incidents together and sort of compiling them. I got really obsessed with it and everything came out in a free-flowing manner and writing of the script happened in a most natural way,” he adds.

The transformation
Arjun looks nothing like himself in the trailer. You can figure out that he has left no stone unturned to look like Gawli — a lean structure, thick moustache, a Pathani kurta and Gandhi topi. “When you are making a film on a true story about a living person, it is very important to look like him/her. Yes, for me to transform myself and look like him was a process that happened over a period of one-two years. I had to lose a lot of weight since people in that time didn’t go to gym. I lost all my muscles. We had a wonderful makeup person from Italy who helped us create the look with the help of prosthetics. I had to work on the language as it is an altogether different accent. They spoke a lot in codes,” informs Arjun who claims that Daddy has been the most difficult role of his life.

Glorifying crime and gangsters
With films like Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai, Main Aur Charles, upcoming film Haseena Parkar and Daddy, is Bollywood trying to glorify gangsters and people associated with the underworld? Answers Arjun who loves this genre and has always been fascinated by crime thrillers, “Each filmmaker has his/her own way of treating a subject and presenting something, which we are totally okay with. But having said that, we haven’t done anything to glorify crime or gangsters through Daddy. In fact, we have done the contrary — shown Arun Gawli as a human with all his flaws, the incidents which led him to being who he is today.” The 44-year-old actor claims that the film is not about the underworld, Arun Gawli the politician, or the gangster but his journey as a human being. 
Speaking about the challenges of making a biopic, Arjun says, “A biopic tends to get a little one-dimensional and you are often biased towards the person you are portraying onscreen. It was very important for us to tell the truth. We do not want to sugarcoat it or dilute it,” he adds, emphasising on what fascinates us as an audience of the genre is that subconsciously,  we are curious to know what it is to live a life like that.

Quality of cinema and the changing audience
In the last few years, we have seen big budget films with big cast tumble at the box office. Films with smaller budget and meaningful content seem to be making their mark. Commenting on the trend, Arjun says, that he truly believes in good cinema. “As long as a film is good, it works. I think the audience is changing and it definitely is making filmmakers and actors push their envelopes. However, you are never sure which film will work. I am not sure whether Daddy is going to work but you try to make a film honestly and you put it out there. If it works, it’s great but sadly if it doesn’t, you do feel bad. However, you need to think and rethink why it didn’t click with the audience and where you went wrong. The audience is making us think. They’re exposed to a lot of content and different types of entertainment in India and on international platforms. They are constantly looking for something new,” he quips.

Choosing a script
What is it about a script that excites him the most? “If it hits me in the heart and I feel I will be able to do justice to the character and the script, I go for it,” he replies. “It really scares me if I get a character which I wouldn’t be able to do. To me, being able to do a role with complete honesty is important while choosing a film,” he says.

And his take on nepotism? “They blow everything out of proportion. That’s what media does!” he concludes while laughing loudly.

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