Armaan Ralhan: “Didn’t know I was auditioning for Befikre”

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‘Befikre’ (2016) may not have hit the right chord with audiences overall but it sure did one thing. It gave way to an actor who is sure to go a long way because, let’s face it, debuting with Aditya Chopra is something special. Armaan Ralhan, who played Vaani Kapoor’s fiance, was introduced in the film. As grandson of OP Ralhan and the surprise package of a Chopra directorial, it’s evident that this actor has a potentially long career ahead of him.

BizAsiaLive.com caught up with the actor two months after the film’s release.

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‘Befikre’ was a great start for you. What has the response been since?
Everything I’ve got from my work has been positive so it’s been nice. I can’t really take credit for it because it’s my director Aditya Chopra who has presented me in the character that I got to play. A lot of people have liked the character of Aney which in a big way goes to my director for the way he worked it and the way it’s been shot. The response has been positive and it’s been good.

What was it like working with Aditya Chopra?
It was amazing for me. Obviously, as it’s the beginning of my career, I don’t have anything to compare the experience to. I hope that all the directors I work with are like this as it’s been the best experience so far.

How did you get selected for the role?
It was actually quite a long process. I had met Shanoo Sharma, casting director at Yash Raj, around two years ago for the first time. Then we had a gap for some time and then I met her again. I was just doing general auditions and there wasn’t a specific film she was testing me for at that point. And then one day she called and told me to go in for a test as a banker. She said they would interview me and take it from there. I did that and then I did a few more rounds of auditions. I think it was around December 19th that I got a call that it’s the last round of auditions. I still had no idea what film it was for. I did that and then when I met Adi sir for the first time, that’s when he told me I was testing for the part in his film. I then went for another month of auditions with him and that’s when he finally told me I had the role.

The film stars Ranveer Singh and Vaani Kapoor. Did you meet them before starting to shoot with them?
I had met Ranveer very briefly somewhere but otherwise not really. I met Vaani for the first time when we auditioned for the first time with Adi sir. I knew her a little bit but I really got to know them when we spent time together in Paris. I was lucky that Adi sir wanted me to assist on the movie as I didn’t shoot for the first three and a half weeks. So he let me go along and assist and learn and get comfortable in the whole environment before I shot. So by the time I began shooting, I was very comfortable with both Ranveer and Vaani. I knew them and we got along very well.

Ranveer Singh is a livewire. Did you feel any kind of pressure being the second hero, so to speak?
Actually, no. I felt the opposite of that. I felt no pressure because the pressure was on Ranveer and Adi sir. They sort of took the pressure away from me in that sense. Adi sir said that I would do better when I have better actors in front of me. So I just had to be there and and go with the flow. I benefited in fact because Adi sir and Ranveer are big stars. I got a lot more eye balls on me because of them and got a lot more people to recognise my work.

Is there any particular scene that you shot for that stands out for you?
I think we had a blast when we did the karaoke portion. It was a lot of fun because collectively – I can probably speak on their behalf as well – we were all terrible singers. It worked out well for the scene because that’s exactly what our director wanted. He didn’t really give us too many retakes because we kept trying to improve ourselves but he just didn’t want that. He wanted us to be our terrible selves (laughs). We spent so much time together – around two and a half months. There were so many memories but off the top of my head, this is the one scene I remember.

There was one long, single-shot scene which Vaani Kapoor said she found challenging. How did you find it?
Well, all the pressure was on them really. It was the first time I’d done something like that which was such a long shot in one take. I was just enjoying it. For me, honestly, this film was just like a holiday. I had the best time ever. I was learning a lot and it was a blast.

You are from a film family yourself. Did you have any apprehensions before ‘Befikre’?
As far as my being a part of a film family goes, my grandfather was a director-producer-writer. The last film he made was before around 1970 and he passed away when I was quite young. I didn’t really have any exposure to the world of films in that sense. I wouldn’t really call myself a star kid or anything. For me it was more about this opportunity that came my way. I want to have a long career with great films. This is best way to start, with a great director and the actors around me. I really didn’t know what to expect so I just went with the flow.

Do you have a wishlist of people you’d like to work with?
I actually do but I’m a bit superstitious about saying it. With the directors, I feel like I might jinx it (laughs). But yes I do have a big wishlist and I hope I get to work with everyone on it. However, I do hope I get to work with Aditya Chopra again on a big film where I can do a full-fledged role.

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What kind of cinema do you find yourself appreciating the most?
I am a 90s kid so I’ve grown up with David Dhawan and all of that. Gradually I then got exposed to Hollywood, international cinema, world cinema and the darker stuff. So I’ve liked all kinds of movies. I actually want to do everything from David Dhawan to Vishal Bhardwaj… and everything in the middle as well. I love all kinds of movies and I want to be a part of everything. The beauty of being an actor is that you can do everything.

Are there any films in recent years that you watched and wished you could’ve been a part of?
Many films. It’s weird, when I watch a movie that I really like, I somehow feel as if nothing should be different in the film. There are so many films that I’ve loved. I watched Dangal and I was blown away by that film. I hope I get to play a character like that at some point. I loved Kapoor and Sons, Neerja… so many.

You’ve made your debut in not exactly a conventional role. Going forward would you want to fit into the conventions or want to do offbeat films as well?
I definitely want to do both. It’s something I’ve learnt from international cinema and maybe an Aamir Khan in India as well. I still need to build the trust of people putting money in actors and work my way up to that. Once I’m there, I feel like you can do a film and then understand what the audience is for that film. Based on that you then budget the film and market it accordingly. I want to do everything but you can’t expect a niche film to have the reach of Sultan or Dangal. I think it depends on the subject of the film and how the producers have thought to mount it.

You come across with ‘Befikre’ as lead hero material and perhaps as a chocolate boy. If you were offered a negative role, would you take it up?
Oh, definitely. Some of my favourite characters growing up have all been the darker, negative and grey sort of characters.. whether it’s the Joker or Al Pacino in Scarface, Robert DeNiro in Taxidriver. In fact, Saif Ali Khan in Agent Vinod, I love that film. I definitely want to delve into the negative too.

You were the surprise element in ‘Befikre’. What would you say you’ve been most surprised by since the film’s release?
There’s nothing that’s really shocked or surprised me as such. I wasn’t under any illusion that I’m going to do this film and everything will change overnight. What I want from my career is much much more than anything I can achieve in five or ten years. I’m excited and eager and hoping that I get good work and good opportunities with good directors.

BizAsiaLive.com would like to thank Armaan Ralhan for taking the time to talk to us.

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