An unwieldy crowd rushed the stage and frequently broke out in song as Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor discussed his life and career during one of the final ‘In Conversation’ sessions at the Red Sea Film Festival Wednesday.
The packed crowd, which comprised local and international Bollywood superfans, commandeered the keynote session from festival organizers and began to hold their own prolonged event asking Kapoor personal questions, running up to take selfies, and offering him screenplays.
“It’s part of Indian culture,” Kapoor told Deadline later that evening at a party hosted by GQ. “The songs, the dances. They love the movies, especially the Asian subcontinent. So it’s always great to get that love.”
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While the festival audience was jubilant, Kapoor struck a more reflective tone. Talking at length, he discussed the projects in his filmography that he believes are failures, either due to poor box office numbers or conflicting artistic results.
Discussing his 2022 action flick Shamshera, he said it was “by far the hardest film I’ve worked on. It was a big box office disaster, but the biggest mistake I made on Shamshera was that I stuck on a beard.”
Kapoor was referencing the prosthetic beard he wears during the film. Over rapturous laughs from the crowd, he continued: “When you’re shooting in the heat, and you stick on a beard, it’s like your face is melting.”
Kapoor continued to discuss his 2017 family drama Jagga Jasoos, which he described as “another disaster.”
“It’s a film that I produced. It was a passion project. It was directed by Anurag Basu. It was a very heartwarming and sweet idea, but it didn’t do well, which really hurt,” he said. “That’s the only film in my career that hurt me.”
Shamshera is among a slew of big-budget, high-profile Bollywood titles that have struggled at the box office even though Indian cinemas have been open with no Covid restrictions for almost a year.
“It’s been pretty bad these last few years,” Kapoor told Deadline of the situation at the Indian box office.
“The entire culture of going to a theater for a community viewing of a movie seems like it’s dying, and it’s only there for the big ticket films, but I hope with strong storytelling, and renewed vigor, Indian cinema comes back.”
Conversely, away from the predominantly Hindi-language Bollywood industry, films from the South Indian film industries, such as the Kannada-language K.G.F: Chapter 2 and the Telugu-language RRR have been breaking box office records in India and overseas.
“They’re doing really good storytelling,” he said of the recent South India cinema boom, citing S. S. Rajamouli’s RRR, which has grossed more than $140 million worldwide and is picking up early awards buzz, as a textbox example of Southern Indian filmmaking.
“It’s not taking itself too seriously. It’s got all the songs, dances, action, friendship, and comedy. So it’s a multi-genre film, but those are hard films to make because we try to make them, and they keep failing. So we’re really proud that a film like RRR is making an impact in Hollywood.”
The flick is a fictionalized story of real Indian freedom fighters and stars Jr NTR, Ram Charan, Ajay Devgn, and Kapoor’s wife, Alia Bhatt. Kapoor and Bhatt’s relationship was frequently brought up at the public keynote, with fans desperately asking how the pair balance parenthood with their careers.
Bhatt recently made her English-language debut in the spy thriller Heart of Stone from Netflix and Skydance. Gal Gadot and Jamie Dornan co-star in the pic. While Bhatt has made her way to Hollywood, Kapoor told Deadline that he doesn’t see himself crossing over to the states anytime soon.
“I’d never say never, but I’m pretty content with the kind of opportunities that are coming my way in my country in my language,” he said. “I do have a certain block in my head about acting in English. I’d rather act in my language because it comes naturally to me. But never say never.”
Next up, Kapoor will star in two films set for release at the top of 2023: a now-untitled romantic comedy also featuring Shraddha Kapoor and a crime thriller titled Animal directed by Sandeep Reddy Vanga. However, Kapoor told Deadline that his long-term career goal is to move behind the camera.
“I’ve always wanted to direct and make a movie. But I’ve really not mastered the courage to write a story,” he said. “I’ve always waited for a story to come to me naturally. But the fuck up is that I’m not a writer, and I’m really shy when it comes to sharing my ideas with other people. But I’m working on it, and it’s something that is in my ten-year plan: To start directing movies and hopefully act in them too.”
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