With Aditya Roy Kapur’s latest film Om: The Battle Within on the brink of release, we got a chance to speak to the actor, who is notably elusive, not known for giving many interviews except to promote his movies. He speaks about his desire to just lead a normal life even as he is steadily tasting fame, for his work and for his ripped physique.
I was really bummed to hear you say in an interview that to look like this, you need to sign off on having a life.
(Laughs) No, no, it’s not like you don’t have a life. You just have to stay pretty disciplined if you want to stay at a low weight. Watching what you eat and eating healthy stuff. And I like my greasy food: I like my pizza, my biryani, and mutton curry. Yeah, I’m kind of spacing out just talking about it.
So much of your popularity is pegged to this easy-going, boy-next-door, laid-back vibe that you have. How protective are you of it?
I don’t actually give it too much thought. It’s just how I am. Can’t be any other way, even if I tried, so it doesn’t feel like a constant struggle.
The last time I interviewed you, which was a few years ago, we were at Fashion Week and you were complaining to me about being the kind of guy who enjoys shopping on Linking Road but your stylist won’t let you go buy shorts from there. Has that changed now?
That’s the thing I buy the most: shorts. I go to set in shorts, I’m in shorts all the time. For me, comfort is key. So, no one has managed to stop me from buying those. Just bought two pairs the day before yesterday.
In Om: The Battle Within, you are looking like a lean, mean machine. I can very well imagine this poster going up on young boys’ walls as motivation.
That would be cool, huh? Because I had those posters up on my walls. I had Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Van Damme. Also, George Michael and Madonna and all that, but I was a huge action-buff.
You know, you are somehow come across as the kind of guy who would find a way to do ‘normal stuff’ that a lot of other actors just sort of sign off from doing. How do you manage to go under the radar?
The silver lining of the pandemic has been the mask for me. Because 60% of people can’t recognize you. So, you can get away with going to a bunch of places because of that mask. I’m gonna continue to wear this mask far into the future, when people are going to be like, “What is that guy doing?” But yeah, these kind of things are very important to me because they make me feel normal, you know? Feeling like I’m out there, connecting with people, connecting with life as it is.
At a time today, where you have this sort of body that everyone is talking about, was it a non-negotiable to put in that work?
For a film like this, for sure. Because for an action film, where you’re supposed to sell a larger-than-life image, machismo and look like you can beat fifty people up in one go, it’s important. But if I was doing a regular romantic comedy, where I’m playing a normal guy, then it would be counterproductive to look like this character is in the gym 2-3 hours a day. Because he’s obviously not, he’s a normal guy. We have to do what the role demands.
How do you keep stuff interesting for yourself? What breaks you out of a rut, if you find yourself falling into one?
For me, it’s music. I play the guitar, I have some friends that I jam with. I play sports. Those two hours you don’t end up thinking about anything else in the world, even if you want to, because you gotta pass that ball and be in the moment. Travel always tends to open up your mind and you come back with a new perspective and peace. So there are many different things, as long as you’re interested in them, that can keep you going.
Has the nature of friendship changed as you get more famous? Do the kids you grew up with treat you differently?
They don’t even call me when my trailer is out (laughs). This was a while ago, I don’t even ask them anymore. But it’s fine, I like it. It hasn’t changed and I wouldn’t want that to change.
Lastly, do you still recognize the guy from Channel V with the afro? What would you tell him if you were to see him today?
I would tell him to keep the afro. But it would be hard, because I don’t think there are too many successes with afros running around. So, that had to go. But, I’ll grow it back one day for a role, I’m sure (laughs). I just have to find the right role.