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Bull’s eye

As Arjun Rampal spreads his wings, Anuj Kumar gets him to talk of the flight

Photo: Sandeep Saxena

On an upswing Film star Arjun Rampal

Delhi is the city that made Arjun Rampal. “I studied here, I got my first break in modelling here and then I met my wife Mehr (Jesia) here. I still remember it was a Suneet Varma show.” Arguably, the country’s best looking man; Arjun says he was never conscious of his looks when he was studying. “I was just a regular student. It was when I entered the ‘society’ that people made me conscious. People began to think supermodel hai arrogant hoga. Now I love watching myself in the mirror,” he quips pointing towards friend and now business partner AD Singh, as an embodiment of high society. The two have come up with Lap, a members-only fine dining restaurant and bar in Hotel Samrat in the country’s capital.

“To me Lap is your chosen and I believe Delhi will lap it up! During my college days Ghungroo used to have an aspiration value. I couldn’t afford it but I loved to be there with my friends. So you can say the idea was there at the back of my mind. Then an Economics degree from Hindu College helped in putting ideas to use,” says Arjun, who already has film production house Chasing Ganesha.

Safety is paramount

Arjun, however, points out that those days discotheques were not totally safe for girls. “So I wanted to make sure that when a bunch of friends go out to have fun, the girls should feel safe. They should not feel conscious of what they are wearing.” That’s how, he adds, the idea of controlled entry germinated. “AD and I met on a flight to Goa, where I shared my wish to be part of F&B business. I had forgotten about it, but one day I got a call from him that he has got this space in Hotel Samrat and wanted me to have a look. When I saw the 17000 square feet space, I immediately realised that is the place though at that time it was in shambles. You don’t find such open spaces in heart of Delhi.”

To create the desired impact, the tables are designed by Arjun’s close friends like Rohit Bal, Tarun Tahiliani and Gauri Khan. “I am taking it as a creative pursuit. Most of the lounges in the city have a claustrophobic feel. I want the patrons to have luxury in open air. Sandeep Khosla has designed the interiors. While one band of seating looks out into a garden, the others overlook life-sized ‘windows’ where the scene will change every evening. One evening it could be a live installation, on another it could be a rush of dazzling flowers. Then Sanjay Sharma of Swarovski offered a whole new use of crystals. I didn’t want anything flashy like neon lights. Sanjay helped us create mood lighting through crystals.”

His acting career is on an upswing with directors suddenly discovering his acting talent. A great believer in destiny, Arjun gives credit to fate.

“I feel blessed because many people dream, but not everybody’s dream turns into reality. I became a model because Rohit Bal noticed me in a party. Then when I was shooting an ad film with Shekhar Kapoor, he recommended my name to director Ashok Mehta for Moksha. I was drawn to the concept because I didn’t have to run around trees. Now when the media had almost written me off, I got a fresh lease of life with the success of Om Shanti Om and Rock On! I am a patient man. I didn’t lose my core when I was heaped with criticism.”

Fox is releasing this week, but Arjun is looking forward to Prakash Jha’s Rajniti, where he is playing a politician. “I hope Delhi will allow me to enter the city after watching my performance!” Then he has The Legend of Kunal, where he is playing the title role of the son of king Ashok to be essayed by Amitabh Bachchan.

“It is a big project which explores the father-son relationship. Right now pre-production work is on. It is a huge honour to play the historical character, about whom much is not known. Yes, I have to look little younger than my age. I hope make up will create the right look. Then I am working on an action film which will be produced by Chasing Ganesha.”

Time for a photo shoot, it is raining hard and as a result moisture has crept in the camera but our subject is a cool dude who has oodles of patience.

Arjun is focussed all right!

( anuj@thehindu.co.in)

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