Ranbir Kapoor on ‘Tough and Uncompromising’ Role in ‘Animal’: ‘A Narrative That Keeps You on the Edge of Your Seat’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor is gearing for the global release of action-crime-drama “Animal.” The film is directed by Sandeep Reddy Vanga, known for his portraits of tough yet vulnerable men in Telugu-language hit “Arjun Reddy” (2017) and its Hindi-language remake “Kabir Singh” (2019). “Animal” revolves around the relationship of Kapoor’s character with his father, played by Anil Kapoor (“Slumdog Millionaire”) and the cast also includes Rashmika Mandanna (“Varisu”) and Bobby Deol (“Aashram”). The film marks a notable change of image for Ranbir Kapoor, who is predominantly known for his romantic comedies including “Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar,” which is one of the biggest Bollywood hits of 2023, a year where Indian audiences began returning to cinemas after a two-year pandemic hiatus.

Variety spoke with Ranbir Kapoor about his role in “Animal.”

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Variety: What made you accept “Animal” – had you watched “Arjun Reddy” and “Kabir Singh”?
Ranbir Kapoor
: Well, to be honest, I was really drawn to the script of “Animal.” It’s a unique and intense story that immediately caught my attention. As for watching “Arjun Reddy” or “Kabir Singh,” I must admit that I did watch both films and found them to be incredibly powerful and impactful. However, my decision to accept “Animal” was not solely based on those films. It was more about the script, the character, and the opportunity to work with Sandeep Reddy Vanga. I believe Animal will offer a different experience altogether, and I’m excited to explore this new dimension in my acting journey.

“Animal” is quite a departure in terms of your hitherto seen on-screen image. Was this a deliberate choice on your part?
Absolutely! It was a deliberate choice on my part to explore a different side of myself on-screen with “Animal.” As an actor, I always strive to challenge myself and push the boundaries of my abilities. “Animal” presented a unique opportunity to break away from my previous on-screen image and delve into a character that is multi-dimensional and complex. I believe it’s important for actors to constantly evolve and surprise audiences and “Animal” allowed me to do just that. I hope viewers will appreciate this new facet of my performance and enjoy the film as much as I did while working on it.

Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s protagonists are usually tough and uncompromising. Is your character in “Animal” also so?
Yes, my character in “Animal” does possess some of the traits typically associated with Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s protagonists. He is indeed tough and uncompromising in certain aspects. However, what sets him apart is the layers of complexity and depth that have been woven into his character. While he may exhibit strength and determination, there are also moments of vulnerability and internal conflict that make him more relatable and human. This adds a unique dimension to the character and allows for a more nuanced portrayal. So, while my character in “Animal” shares some similarities with Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s previous protagonists, there are also distinct differences that make him stand out in his own right.

Without any spoilers, how would you describe “Animal” and your character in it?
“Animal” is a gripping and intense film that delves into the depths of human emotions and relationships. It explores the complexities of life and the choices we make, with a narrative that keeps you on the edge of your seat. My character in “Animal” is a fascinating blend of strength, vulnerability and unpredictability. He is driven by his past experiences and carries a certain darkness within him, which adds an intriguing layer to his persona. As the story unfolds, you will witness the evolution of this character and the impact he has on the overall narrative. It’s a role that challenged me as an actor and allowed me to explore new depths in my performance. I believe audiences will be captivated by the intensity and depth of “Animal” and the characters within it.

How was the experience of working with Anil Kapoor?
Working with Anil Kapoor was an absolute delight and a tremendous learning experience. His energy and enthusiasm on set are infectious. Anil Kapoor played my father role in the movie. He has a unique ability to effortlessly give different variations, switch between different emotions, and bring his characters to life with authenticity. Working with AK is an experience that I will never forget.

Audiences are gradually returning to the cinemas after a few years of being in thrall to streaming platforms. How can the film industry keep them returning to cinemas?
To ensure the continued patronage of audiences in cinemas, the film industry can take several steps:
a. Generating diverse and engaging content.
b. Enhanced cinematic experience. Cinemas can enhance the overall experience by investing in state-of-the-art technology, comfortable seating and immersive sound systems.
c. Organizing exclusive releases, premieres and special events. Our producers are planning to do paid premiers on Nov. 30 in U.S.A., which is not usual in the Hindi film industry.
d. Engaging marketing campaigns: Effective marketing campaigns that highlight the unique aspects of the cinema experience can help generate buzz and attract audiences. Utilizing social media, influencers, and targeted advertising can reach a wider audience and create a sense of excitement around upcoming releases.
e. Affordable ticket prices and offers: Offering competitive ticket prices, get rid of VPFs [Virtual Print Fee, a subsidy paid by a distributor towards the purchase of digital cinema projection equipment for use by an exhibitor] like in U.S.A., provide discounts and special offers can make cinema outings more accessible and appealing to a larger audience. This can include student discounts, family packages, or loyalty programs that incentivize frequent visits.

By implementing these strategies, the film industry can create a compelling and enticing cinema experience that keeps audiences coming back for more.

What are you working on next?
I’m just waiting for the “Animal” release. I want to take a break and spend time with my family.

“Animal,” a T-Series and Bhadrakali Pictures production, debuts worldwide on Dec. 1, including in North America where it opens in over 888 theaters, with special previews on Nov. 30.

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