While Bollywood is not new to period films, Ashutosh Gowariker’s Panipat is Arjun Kapoor’s debut venture into the world of history being cinematically retold. In a series of firsts, the actor is seen locking horns with Sanjay Dutt on the battle field, it is his first movie with director Gowarikar and the first time he shares screen space with Kriti Sanon.
On stepping into new territories with Panipat, Arjun says, “The battle of Panipat is an intense story and not just a war drama but a patriotic movie. It is about the first united army that was formed so that they could fight the invaders. It’s the first war we fought as a united India.” The actor also experimented with his looks and shaved his hair.
“I had to let go of my inhibitions. I wondered how I would look and at the same time I also wanted to make the Peshwa community proud. We could have used prosthetics but it would be unfair to the film or the Peshwa community. I had to learn horse riding and javelin throw. Spears were a big weapon that Sadashivrao Bhau (Arjun’s character) used. I learnt sword fighting as well. I knew Marathi but had less confidence in speaking the language but since Ashutosh is a Maharastrian there was no fear. These were just the garnishing I had to do for the role.”
On his role as Sadashivrao Bhau, he says, “Not much has been written about his personal life but we came to know that Sadashivrao was a bit stubborn but at the same time he was vulnerable when he was with his wife. He was very calm and a controlled man. He was also very resilient when it came to certain things and importantly he was a man of few words. But when he spoke he made sure that everyone listened to him. Ashutosh wanted me to be subtle and asked me not to scream much. I went according to his vision. He had done so much research before writing the film.”
The 34-year-old thinks he has changed drastically since his debut in Ishaqzaade in 2012. “I have seen a lot of ups and downs. I was quiet but not arrogant. Now I don’t give people the chance to complain. I used to smile less. I am much calmer now. I am my mother’s son and nobody can take that away the person I am. The point of being a star is surviving failure that comes after success. All actors who are here for more than 25 years have survived failures. It’s important that you see obstacles because you should not take things for granted. Like Zoya Akhtar says ‘Apna time aayega’, you have to keep at it. I made mistakes and took things for granted. I was always a fat kid and weighed 150 pounds. I should have been careful and lost more weight. But I don’t think I lost films for my weight. But I will never lose maturity because I gained it early in life.”