An artist's emotional evolution is bound to reflect in their work, says Ranbir Kapoor, but the actor believes he is yet to process how the highs and lows he went through in the past three years have changed him as a performer.
The 40-year-old actor lost his father, veteran actor Rishi Kapoor, to cancer in April 2020. He got married to longtime partner Alia Bhatt ahead of the release of their maiden on-screen collaboration Brahmastra: Part One - Shiva in September last year and they became parents to baby girl Raha in November.
All these moments have given him a better understanding of life, he said.
"The biggest thing that happens in an individual's life is when you lose one of your parents. That really is something... Especially when you're nearing your 40s, that's the time when something like this usually happens... Nothing prepares you for that, but it brings the family closer. It makes you understand life," Ranbir told PTI in an interview.
"Lot of good things and bad things come out of it... I have been blessed with a baby girl. I've been blessed to have married Alia last year. There have been ups and downs... But that's life, right?" he added.
The actor believes it will probably take him a few years to figure out how his emotional growth contributed to his craft.
"It does affect you as an artist, but I guess one can't tell it right away. Maybe after a couple of years... When my father was suffering from cancer and was going through his treatment, I was working on Brahmastra and Shamshera at that time.
"When I see Brahmastra now, there are amazing memories, but there are certain scenes I see and I get reminded of moments... like 'Oh! At this time, he was having chemotherapy or he was on a ventilator...' But how it helps you, I won't really realise it for a couple of years."
With Brahmastra, Ranbir delivered a blockbuster success for the hit-starved Hindi cinema in the last quarter of 2022. His upcoming release is romantic-comedy Tu Jhooti Main Makkaar. Directed by Luv Ranjan, the film marks the actor's return to the genre after 2013's Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani.
While he was done with rom-coms, the actor said he couldn't let go of the idea that Luv narrated to him. It was the writer-director's "twisted" writing that appealed to him.
"We were doing another film with Ajay Devgn, but dates did not match and it kept getting postponed. At that time, he narrated 'Tu Jhoothi...' to me and I was done with rom-coms. I told him I've too many of these and it's a difficult genre to crack.
"But when he narrated this film, what was in his writing, he is 'tedha' (twisted) in the way he thinks, his dialogues, relationship dynamics, really appealed to me. It was something new," he said.
Ranbir said his introduction to Luv's work was 2011's Pyaar Ka Punchnama. He enjoyed the movie and texted the filmmaker expressing his desire to collaborate with him.
"He is the only director I've ever messaged in my life," the actor added.
The fact that it was not the "coming-of-age lost boy" character, an arc Ranbir has frequently explored in many of his films, made "Tu Jhooti..." a refreshing opportunity.
"It was not that coming-of-age lost boy, trying to navigate things, trying to find himself and a girl directing him in life. It was not a film like that.
It was refreshing and exciting. Luv has become one of my closest friends. I trust him and I respect him for his work. I saw Tu Jhooti...' two days back and I am extremely happy. It is exactly the film which we discussed, he said.
As fans of love stories, Ranbir said he and Luv cherish the feeling of watching rom-coms in the theatre.
We love that feeling when you go to a theatre and watch a rom-com. Like, when you watch Notting Hill or Jab We Met, that feeling is really different. It's nice and sweet, and Tu Jhoothi...' delivers that.
In the past few years, Ranbir said, filmmakers have hardly experimented with love stories. He believes it is a difficult space to navigate as the definition of love changes with time.
Somewhere in the film industry people stopped making love stories. People ran out of conflicts. The last love story I did was Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani, Tamasha was not really a love story, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil was more about friendship and heartbreak. Love stories are hard because love is changing.
Since he is not well versed with the conflicts of the younger generation, the actor said it is necessary to collaborate with storytellers who are closer to real people.
I'm also an older generation now. I don't know the conflicts of the younger generation, they are new. As an artist, it is important that I recognise and understand that. I can't be stuck in the past and be like 'This used to happen in my time', because then I will fade out soon.
Maybe, as an actor, I'm a bit detached, so for me it is important to collaborate with directors who understand characters and the country more than I do.
Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar is produced by Luv Films and Ankur Garg and presented by Gulshan Kumar and Bhushan Kumar of T-Series. The movie also features Shraddha Kapoor, Dimple Kapadia and stand-up artist Anubhav Singh Bassi.
Is he anxious or nervous ahead of the film's March 8 release?
Ranbir said he is concerned about people warming up to rom-coms after a good dose of action spectacles such as Brahmastra and most recently Pathaan.
Post pandemic, there has been a certain change in the viewing. Maybe audiences are warming up to action films, big-ticket experiences, special-effects films, this is a rom-com.
I want to see if audiences are still giving it a chance. It is important for the film industry for such films to work, because then the genre will still be alive... Otherwise we will be stuck in making action spectacles for cinemas. Sometimes, one just wants to go and watch a nice sweet rom-com and have a great time. For that purpose, I hope this works, he said.
Be it positive or negative, the actor is also prepared to accept the audience's response to the much-anticipated movie. In the digital age, Ranbir believes instant reactions are unavoidable and one should take it in stride.
This immediate reaction can also help you if you have made a good product. The word of mouth travels faster. People want to experience a good film. Today, because of OTT and social media, you have the power to switch off in five minutes if you don't like something.
But when the audience comes to the theatre, it is the responsibility of the storytellers to deliver an entertaining experience, he said.
In a theatre, that power to switch off is taken away from you. For two hours, you have to sit and watch that film. Since the audience is letting us take that power, we should definitely deliver something entertaining. If we don't, we are definitely going to get brickbats and we should accept that. Viewers are giving their time and money, so it is our job and priority to give them good times at the movies, the actor added.
At the same time, Ranbir said he doesn't consider OTT an enemy. As an actor, he considers digital space as a bonus for him and his colleagues.
OTT is a new phenomenon... We have good shows such as Farzi', The Night Manager', and Delhi Crime'. OTT is not an enemy. As an actor, I'm excited I can do a film and also do something on an OTT platform. But it all comes down to content. It has to be good. The competition is from every corner of the world. One has to stand out, he said.