Award-winning Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor spoke of his early days as an actor, tasting success as well as experiencing failure, and his latest role as a father, during a freewheeling chat at the Red Sea International Film Festival.
Kapoor, 40, who called his first job assisting director Sanjay Leela Bhansali a "starting point" in his career, said the experience would later ground him as an actor. Bhansali would go on to give Kapoor his first acting break, casting him as the lead in his 2007 romantic film Saawariya.
Kapoor, who comes from a family of Bollywood superstars, is the grandson of Raj Kapoor, often considered one of the greatest actors and filmmakers in Hindi cinema.
At his In Conversation with Ranbir Kapoor session at the festival, he also spoke about his body of work, including the 2018 biopic Sanju, based on the life of Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, one of Kapoor's most acclaimed roles so far and one of his biggest commercial hits.
“I was a huge fan. I used to have his poster in my room growing up,” he said of Dutt, but added that he was also wary of taking on the role in the Rajkumar Hirani film.
“I wasn’t sure how one could make a biopic on a living person who’s still acting," he said.
Dutt, who was a top star in the 1990s and 2000s, was arrested in 1993 for his alleged involvement in a series of deadly bombings in Bombay. Although he was eventually cleared, he was charged and sentenced for possession of arms and consequently spent a number of years behind bars.
Kapoor would arrive on set for prosthetics and make-up five hours prior to shooting every day. He said the film took a toll on him physically and mentally, trying to perfect a character with "shades of grey”.
But, the star said he remained objective and his effort paid off.
Kapoor was widely praised for his performance and Sanju became one of the highest-grossing Indian films ever.
"I didn't judge him. I played it with my heart and understanding of the character to the best of my ability. I knew it was a high risk because he's well known around the world, and his physicality was really challenging for me. I worked hard because I knew an opportunity would never come again," Kapoor said.
Kapoor, who is married to top Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt, recently became a father. He said he was enjoying the new journey and wants to play football with his children and regrets not becoming a father earlier.
"I am a huge fan of Messi and Raj Kapoor," he said. The couple recently released a picture of their newborn girl, Raha, with her name displayed on a FC Barcelona football kit in the background. Kapoor is an avid supporter of the Spanish football club.
Kapoor and Bhatt fell in love while filming the fantasy action-adventure movie Brahmastra: Part One — Shiva, written and directed by Ayan Mukerji, which recently became the highest-grossing Hindi film of the year.
Kapoor called the film one of his most memorable.
"Films like this aren't really made in India, it was also really expensive," he said. He said Mukerji and he "have always had similar ideas, I believe in him as a storyteller, and he believes in me as an actor."
He also spoke about the failure of his big-budget 2017 film Jagga Jasoos, his first movie as a producer, "heartbreaking".
"It was a passion project," he said of the 1.3 billion rupees ($15.8 million) film which was a box office disaster.
Kapoor also praised the efforts being made in developing a film industry in the kingdom and said he would “definitely bring movies and shoot movies in Saudi Arabia”.
"Saudi Arabia is making a lot of efforts for film production and is making amazing arrangements. I know Shah Rukh Khan was shooting here, a lot of shooting is going to happen in Jeddah and Riyadh," he said.
One fan asked if Kapoor would work with Pakistani actors and filmmakers. Pakistani artists have been banned from working in India since 2016.
“Art knows no borders and I definitely would. In fact, I would like to congratulate Pakistani cinema on the huge success of [The Legend of] Maula Jatt," he said.
Star-studded period film The Legend of Maula Jatt, which was released in October, recently became the highest-grossing Pakistani film of all time.
Kapoor said he was a fan of popular Pakistani and Bollywood singer Atif Aslam‘s voice. “When he sings, it’s like a hero's singing,” he said.
The actor also revealed he has two movies releasing next year, a romantic comedy with Shraddha Kapoor on March 8, and a crime thriller with director Sandeep Reddy Vanga, scheduled for release on August 11.
Scroll through the gallery below for pictures of more stars at the Red Sea International Film Festival