Tag Archives: mohit

Anil Kapoor and Kunal Kemmu talk about Malang, working with Mohit Suri and playing offbeat characters

Kapoor will be next seen playing the role of an ‘eccentric and an angry cop frustrated with the system’ in Mohit Suri’s directorial, Malang (releases on 7 February). This isn’t the first time he has played a cop on screen. Earlier, he wore the khaki uniform in films like Ram Lakhan and Race. “I was worried how will I do it. I have played similar characters in my past films but not so dark that people hate you. My character has a lot of angst and violence inside him. He is angry towards the department, towards the system, he is also angry with his life. He wants to inflict pain on himself. He takes drugs. He goes crazy. But I wanted my character to be fun because after all it is for a commercial movie and people want to be entertained. So we played a lot with the look. The red glasses and tattoo was Mohit’s idea and we let the natural grey shine. He is 50 plus and he should look like one,” said Kapoor.

Kapoor’s prep has been exhaustive, as usual. He says he invests a lot of time on working on his character, and till the time he doesn’t get a grip on it, he is restless, cranky and irritable. “Also, here I was working with a team of young people – Mohit, Aditya (Roy Kapur) and Disha (Patani). You do get tense with young people around you. Their body is great. My motivation always is how do I add value to my character as well as the film and make the director happy so that he casts me again (laughs). Besides doing workshops and research, I watched films that were close to this film and my character. My son suggested that I watch Bad Lieutenant because it has a cop with slightly dark shades. Then, I also spoke to some cops and encounter specialists here in Mumbai. I prepped and practiced a lot at home and then called Mohit to tell him how I want to make the character little humorous and bring in a bit of madness to it without looking fake and unreal,” adds Kapoor, who will be next seen in Karan Johar helmed Takht. The film will mark his first appearance in a period drama.

Kapoor’s co-star Kunal Kemmu, who was recently seen in an intense role in Kalank, is excited about collaborating with his director from his debut film (as an adult actor), Kalyug (2005), after 15 years. “I used to often ask Mohit why haven’t we worked together again and he would say that with Kalyug we set a bar and whatever we do next will be judged. We had to push the envelope a bit to recreate the magic and when he came to me with Malang I was organically attracted towards playing a certain character. Now when the film has happened I understand what Mohit meant. It is so special in so many ways because even with Kalyug I was breaking the mould of a child actor and now with Malang it is a part that I have never played before. Parts like these don’t get written so often. The characters are very interesting. The trailer was quite intriguing till it slowly peels off and you have the whole puzzle in front of you,” said Kemmu. “And what Mohit has kept intact within him is his sense of music. He understands relationships very well and gets intensities right which is probably because of Mahesh Bhatt’s mentoring. Malang is by far, visually the most good looking film that he has made.”

Half Girlfriend: Chetan Bhagat’s book or Mohit Suri’s film, which one is worse?

Some questions are truly critical. For instance: “Why did Kattappa kill Bahubali?” Now that we have the answer to that particular question, there is another burning question for the pop-culture-obsessed mind, and that question is this: Does Mohit Suri’s Half Girlfriend retain that line, immortalised by Chetan Bhagat. Deti hai toh de, varna kat le. The answer? In a bit.

First, we must address the elephant in the room. Why are people casting Arjun Kapoor in roles that demand complexity, nuance, skill and an overall understanding of context and milieu? Say what you will about Chetan Bhagat and his writing, but his books are fodder for the kind of films that can strike gold at the box office, if they’re made and positioned smartly. 3 Idiots and 2 States have proven that.

Shraddha Kapoor as Riya Somani in 'Half Girlfriend'

In fact, Half Girlfriend — despite being a mostly-unimpressive and sometimes-revolting book — has the kind of story that would have been a smash hit as a film in the ’90s. And treated with the right amount of texture and sensitivity, it had the potential to make for an intriguing watch even for today’s audience. One of the key aspects of the story – the protagonist Madhav Jha’s struggle and conflict with the English language, can come through strongly only with a medium like cinema; because in the book, everything is in English, including the bits where the character is actually speaking in Hindi.

However, the film falls flat on its face, largely because rather than seeming like an under-confident but rugged, attractive, athletic and intelligent fellow — what Madhav is supposed to be like — Arjun’s Madhav comes across looking like an overgrown oaf (pardon my language, but it’s true). His supposed-Bihari accent is not only terrible, but also inconsistent. In one scene, he says ‘loojer’ and ‘loser’ within a few seconds of each other, without irony. (What’s surprising is that Arjun played country bumpkin so much better in his first film, Ishaqzaade.)

About the only not-bad thing one can say about Arjun Kapoor in Half Girlfriend is that the film version of Madhav Jha comes across as less of a sexist creep than the book version. But that’s because Arjun Kapoor completely lacks the chops to pull off the character the way it was written. The character in the book is your average horny Indian male bred on a staple diet of entitlement, who shows a semblance of evolution through the story. (Sample this: At one point, when the girl covers her exposed legs, Madhav in the book reacts with, ‘Damn, I just lost my view’.) The character in the film, though, is just a brawny bumbling buffoon, his facial hair standing in for actual expressions.

Mohit Suri also takes the best thing about the book — the character of Riya Somani — and makes her a brooding bore, with spurts of being a slightly improved version of the high-on-life-or-cocaine character Shraddha Kapoor played in his own Ek Villain. While she was insufferable there, she’s quite, well, sufferable here.

Riya was an enigma in the book, the reasons for her demeanour, stoic personality and her actions through the story being a mystery all through, revealed only in the third act. (Yes, the book is actually split into ‘acts’. Bhagat knew right then that he was writing a script, not a book.) Like the book, in the film the narration itself is forcibly non-linear. However, the story unfolds quite linearly, cutting to the present once in a while. The result is a dumbed-down film with virtually no peaks or hooks, preferring to spend its time wallowing in shallow emotions, accompanied by a thoroughly unmemorable soundtrack.

In fact, the ‘village area’ scene from the trailer, which has already become a mildly funny meme, actually has ‘rural area’ in the book. That’s how little the makers of the film think of or trust the audience, and that’s the level they decided they must stick to all through. In another scene, we see Shraddha Kapoor put a bottle of water to her mouth to take a sip, but clearly not sipping or even wetting her lips. That’s how little the director cares.

What we’re left with, then, is that burning question from the start of this column. (Spoiler ahead!) In the book, Madhav attempts to get intimate with Riya, is rebuffed and becomes violent, before he utters that most infamous and reviled line, which created a stir when the book came out. Deti hai toh de, varna kat le. (‘F**k me or f**k off’ is how Chetan Bhagat translates that line in the book.)

We’ll never quite know whose call it was, but the scene in the film ends up a cop-out, simply by virtue of one changed syllable. It could have played out exactly in the disgusting manner it appears in the book, after which Madhav could have gotten his comeuppance through the story. Instead, quite like the book and the film, its most (in)glorious moment is also a half-damp squib. Who would have thought that one day Chetan Bhagat will get to hear these golden words: The book was better.