Technically, Parineeti Chopra is senior by a few months — there was a gap of five months between her debut film Ladies vs Ricky Bahl in late 2011 and Arjun Kapoor’s Ishaqzaade in early 2012, both under the Yash Raj Films banner. Parineeti was already shooting the latter, which was her first solo lead film when Ladies… released. The pair is now cast again in Namaste England, with another Yash Raj film, Sandeep Aur Pinky Farrar, to come next year. Their rapport thus goes back a long way, heightened now by Arjun’s grandmother Surinder Kapoor stating openly (and seriously!) that Parineeti would be the ideal wife for him!
‘‘Dadi ne toh hungama macha diya’’, (Dadi has caused an uproar), says Parineeti with a laugh. She has told Arjun that she liked both of us as a pair in Ishaqzaade. Now that she knows I’m a Punjabi, she thinks I’m the one for him. Arjun had to tell her ‘Dadi, calm down’,’’ she adds. Both of them laugh about it. Although, Parineeti points out that it is also an indication that the audience finds them attractive as a pair. “The social media has given us the hashtag #Arjunneeti,” she reveals.
So, will we see them often together on screen after their third film? “I have no dates for him,” she quips, pointing out her busy calendar with Kesari with Akshay Kumar and Jabariya Jodi with Sidharth Malhotra. Arjun Kapoor, on the other hand, is doing Panipat with Kriti Sanon and India’s Most Wanted, in which his co-star is yet to be announced.
How have they changed as people and as actors from the time they first came together six years ago? Parineeti leads again, “Well, today, Arjun makes a far greater effort to show people what he is feeling. Though we became friends very quickly, he was someone who we had to gauge and understand earlier. People would always think he was grumpy and deadpan and therefore arrogant. But now, he is making an effort with people and they are able to get to know him better. ”
As an actor, Parineeti feels that he has evolved a lot. “So have I,” she says. “With both of us, there is an evolved awareness of audiences’ expectations and the onus of delivering has become more serious within us. We don’t approach work casually anymore.”
‘‘Parineeti used to live life in the moment then. I wouldn’t say she didn’t care, rather she would go with the flow. Things changed after Ishaqzaade, today, she is a woman who sees films as her life. There is focus, maturity and awareness. There are only about 25 to 30 of us who are loved by the entire country, and she has understood that and gone deeper and not taken anything for granted,” says Arjun.
As an actor, he feels that she has honed her skills but was always good at her craft. “She’s never been a reference actor because she has never grown up watching films. Varun (Dhawan), Alia (Bhatt), Ranveer (Singh), me — we are all inherently filmi, so while I may have this streak to imitate chachu (Anil Kapoor) sometimes, she has never imitated even Priyanka Chopra. I have never seen Parineeti being a bad actor.”
He stops and drawls: “Don’t make me praise her any more. I have been at it for four minutes. Enough!” he twinkles. “I enjoyed everything about Namaste England except for Arjun Kapoor,” she says.
As friends, Parineeti points out that she is so comfortable with him — even physically — that she does not have to spell out anything during a shot and can just glide with the flow. “It is easier to do a love story with a friend because without informing him in advance, I can hold his hand, kiss him or hug him in a scene and there is no discomfort,” she says. “There is a comfort level with others too, but with Arjun, there is no need for a discussion about a scene in advance. And today, we think alike in so many ways and understand each other with just a look.”
About her role in Namaste England, Parineeti states, “The roles I played in my first few films were all of a strong ‘today’ woman. That led to people thinking that I am actually like that. But I am actually a sensitive, emotional and vulnerable girl, and my character in this film is also like that. My character in Golmaal Again was also vulnerable. But this time, she is also selfish about her career dreams and can hurt other people, which is something I would never do, because, for me, my people are the most important.”
Parineeti is “really happy” that this film came into her life. “I had loved everything about Namastey London, and Vipul-sir (director Vipul Amrutlal Shah) has created a similar world here. After Golmaal Again, I have been bitten by the commercial bug, and this film came very quickly after that.”
She adds, “The effect of Golmaal Again is that now everyone in the smallest towns, as well as so many kids, recognise me and call me by my character’s name, Khushi. Some do not even know about any of my other nine films. And Golmaal Again’s opening-day figures have beaten the lifetime collection of so many of my films.”
Arjun says that what attracted him to Namaste England was the fact that he was breaking the cliche of the typical Punjabi lad. “I want to support my wife in the film, but obstacles come my way,’’ he explains. “And a Punjabi munda sans cliches like alcohol and loudness was exciting.”
How does Arjun look back at his innings? “I am content but I want more. I want to push the envelope and have fun. I would love to do a film like Aurangzeb again,” he says
Finally, what does Arjun have to say about his forthcoming Koffee With Karan episode with half-sister Jahnvi Kapoor? Candidly, he replies, “What happened (father Boney Kapoor’s second marriage) should not happen to anybody. Your backbone breaks and you collapse. I am picking up the pieces even now. I would not wish all that even on my worst enemy.”
He goes on, “Now, many years later, both my sister Anshula and my aunt told me that I must be a good son. This was the time to assimilate the realisation that life is too short, so, however, adverse may be the situation that has brought us together, we must fill it with love and time for each other. I have discovered two wonderful girls in Jahnvi and Khushi, whom my sister has allowed me to call my sisters, and I want to be their support system. They say that you can choose your friends but not your family, but at 33, I have chosen my family as well.”