Arjun Rampal has had his fair share of criticism but he is a survivor. Having survived the industry for the last 16 years and that too successfully, is definitely no mean feat. He took his own time to bloom and get appreciated (in films like Om Shanti Om, Kahaani 2, Rajneeti and Rock On). Arjun is now looking forward to his first biopic as a producer titled Daddy, a film based on the notorious gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli. He reveals that his film will be released when Gawli will be out of jail on parole.
Are you nervous since it’s your first production?
Sort of. Making Daddy has not been an easy journey. It is not a typical film. This biopic is on such a person (read underworld don) where we needed to tread very cautiously.
What made you write a film on Arun Gawli?
Actually somebody approached me for the role of Arun Gawli. I was taken aback when I was offered the role. But the script was badly written. I didn't want to do it. It sounded fake. There was no authenticity and the film had an item numbers too.
So, somebody else wrote a script and offered you a role? That's how you got the idea to make a biopic on Arun Gawli?
Yes. But I didn't want to do that film. I told them that I will work on the script. I then started meeting people who were close to Arun Gawli. We didn't have much information about him as nothing much had been written about him. The best way to go about it was to meet people who had been around him for a long time. We needed his family's point of view, the views of the police and also his rivals. We heard that he was non-committal, arrogant and very few could read him properly. Most importantly, we needed a cop's point of view who were friends with him as well as those who treated him as an enemy. They were all fascinating stories.
So, it was your decision to ask Aushim Ahuluwalia to direct it too?
As I started writing the script, I wondered who would direct the film. I had Aushim Ahuluwalia in mind as I thought that he would make it look authentic. He is a reluctant filmmaker but he also loves to make films differently. When Aushim came and read the script, he absolutely loved it. He didn't want an item song in the film. I told him that I had worked on the script. He started co-writing it with me and we found a structure that was non-biased. We had to bring out the dark side of Gawli's life too.
What happened to the people who first approached you to make a film on Arun Gawli?
By this time, the producer who had approached me earlier, didn't want to make this film with us anymore. We didn't have money to make the film and that's when I decided to produce it. I took two months (to arrange for the funds) and things fell into place. We asked the producer (the earlier producer) for the rights and he said he didn't have it either. We later went to meet Arun Gawli to convince him about the film. It was not easy for him to say yes to us. There were certain things that you can't touch in his life.
What is it about Gawli that you want to show?
It's true to life but at the same time a human story. Gawli has done certain things which are laudable and certain things that he is not happy about. He wouldn't want his family to go down this route.
Gawli's daughter also gave her inputs?
It was an important aspect of the film. She adores her father and has always stood by him. She has her point of view that creates the base of a father and daughter relationship. We have also shot the film in three different seasons. The police also helped us a lot and allowed us to shoot at their headquarters and gave us security. We have shown them in a positive manner.
Did you have to lose weight or use prosthetics?
I initially lost 11 to 12 kilos and I stopped going to the gym because Arun Gawli did not go to gym. I gained weight which was not healthy. I ate lot of carbohydrates and rice and lost 8 kgs for the last schedule.
Was Arun Gawli happy with the story told?
Arun Gawli had certain issues. The film will not get instant gratification. He said I was too tall for the role and asked me to learn Marathi. They were some valid points but it was not about his character. It was about the mention of his two close friends Babu and Rama. We had taken certain cinematic liberties which he was not happy about. He asked us to change all that. He also pointed out that certain headlines were not right. He also asked us to change the word jail to lockup and quote the right dates. Now that the film is ready, he said that we have made the film from our point of view but he liked it and hopes that it will do well at the box office. He also said that I have completely brought his life in the open.
You have given up offers during the last two years, will we see you act again?
I was offered a lot of films but I had to say no to them. Fortunately the films offered to me are still waiting for me. I will make decisions after I release this film. Till then I plan to take a break and go on a holiday with my family.
How do you look back on your 15 year old journey?
I will not change my journey for anything. I think I reached a phase where I can choose my path. Films come and go and become flops or be successes. You are known for your work. Your quality of work should not get affected whether you are a success or a failure.