Arjun Rampal talks about living through the COVID-19 pandemic

After dealing with a Covid-19 scare from close quarters, the actor believes there is more to life than building concrete jungles all over the place. After charting a route away from toxic negativity, Rampal is all set to rule your hearts with Nail Polish, a courtroom-drama directed by Bhargava 'Bugs' Krishna. Premiering on Zee5 on January 1, 2021, the film also stars Rajit Kapur, apart from Manav Kaul and Anand Tiwari. Excerpts from the interview:

From a parenting point of view how tough was the lockdown for your kids, especially with the one-year-old at home?

The pandemic has definitely brought me closer to my kids. In fact they have explained so much about the pandemic to me that I was quite taken aback by their sensitivity. My girls are not that small anymore, they are 15 and 18 years old. And on the other hand my little fellow doesn’t even know what is going on! The reason why we got ourselves into this situation is because we neglected nature and mother earth so much, that she came out to take revenge on such a large scale. I think this was how our planet was healing! One of the big takeaways is we don’t need as much as we think we do. It is very easy to survive with basics. There is no need to go out there and get greedy! There is no need to take away more land and create more waste! We have to stop building concrete jungles or we will have no trees and no birds! We must be able to see the sky when we look up, we must have good air quality! That is what we need! Not more skyscrapers! The sound of birds chirping had disappeared in a city like Mumbai. But with no vehicles on the road and no smoke, the sounds started coming back! It made us realise that this should be our priority, not anything else! We as a generation should never forget what it is to live through a pandemic and also must warn future generations about the perils of ignoring Mother Nature. Staying away from negativity is also a big takeaway for me.

How have you kept yourself healthy during the pandemic, especially when your crew tested positive?

I work out every day and run 8 km a day. I managed to eat healthy but I did miss working out at the gym. I also got to spend a lot of quality time with my children, which was very relaxing! But I was tense that I might test positive, but that didn’t happen! We stopped shooting for a little while and started again soon enough! Initially it was scary, but we had to move on, you know. The show has to go on!

Your next film is titled Nail Polish…which is a strange name for a movie! What made you pick the script?

I took up the project because I really loved the director and his narration of the script. Apart from his process of work, I was very impressed with the script which was absolutely incredible. Apart from mine, I loved all the other characters. It was a very difficult role also to play, which is why I was more into it!

And about the title… in fact, even I was intrigued when I was told that it was titled Nail Polish. Then Bugs (Bhargava Krishna) told me why don’t you read the whole script and find out whether it is a suitable title. So, I did that and had a big grin on my face by the time I finished. I want the audience to also experience that same feeling!

Why do you call it a ‘difficult role to play’… what was the most challenging part?

My character talks too much! That was very difficult, you know. I am not the kind of person who talks much and I had to memorise too many lines (laughs out loud). On a serious note, it is a very complicated role to play; a lawyer who is extremely complex in real life! In such cases it is very easy to make it melodramatic and cliché. Also courtroom dramas do have a tendency to get stereotyped where the arguments are not technically right or they don’t have a zing in them!

How has OTT content affected you as an actor?

I think this is going to be the golden period for writers in India. The format is such that it is the content which is king. It is similar to what it was like 10 years ago in Hollywood when it was the golden period for writing. In India that is happening now. The audience must brace up for tremendous writers and great shows. There are wonderful stories to say in India, through our culture and our heritage. This is just the beginning, the best is yet to come! Cinema is not going to be dependent on box office collections anymore. Films that are otherwise risky will still get made and released on OTT. Nothing is going to be canned anymore, I hope. That is the best part of OTT.

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