With the recent release of blockbuster Patiala House, we caught up with Armaan Kirmani who plays the character of Akshay’s brother, Jassi in the movie. Having received great reviews for his portrayal of Jassi, Armaan talks to us about his Bollywood debut, working with legends and of course, the Asian dilemma!
We came to know that you are actually a Cambridge Law graduate! That is quite an extraordinary journey. How did this unorthodox route come about?
For me, the benefit of a good education is to be able to have the luxury of choosing which profession one can enter into. Although, many people will raise their eyebrows and expect me to be slogging away at a bank, I would rather slog away in a profession which satisfies my creative ambitions as well. Cambridge provided me with one of the toughest academic challenges out there, but seems easy in comparison to trying to become an Actor in Bollywood! On a more serious note, I guess the benefit of a solid educational background is that it prepares you for the bigger challenges that lie ahead in life...I am just doing justice to my education!
How was it like to work with such legends as Rishi Kapoor, Dimple Kapadia and Akshay Kumar?
Working with big name actors was a tremendous opportunity in my debut film - but I thrive on challenges and it made me want to try and do my best in order to do justice to the film. Jassi is a very important character in Patiala House and any actor would want to make the most of such a special opportunity. I am forever indebted to the advice and support the 'stars' gave me, and I hope it will make me a better actor in years to come!
Talking specifically about Patiala House, do you personally identify with it?
I think, every British Asian can identify with an aspect within Patiala House. The screenplay is so rich and with such tremendous variety - it has everything, drama, action in the form of sport, comedy. The basic message of the film is to encourage people to follow their dreams and for parents to support the ambitions of their children - it is a story that is universal in appeal!
So how did you land this role?
A professional actor's journey always begins with an audition! If you know any other way, please let me know... ;)
There are certain demanding scenes in the movie such as your confrontation with Akshay. How did these go, and what did you feel at those points?
I felt excited, nervous and desperate to hold my own in my big scenes. I remember when I first met Nikhil with the rest of the London cast, he talked about all the characters with the respective actors and turned around to me and said, 'and Armaan you are of course playing Jassi. You have hardly any lines in the film' - Imagine! As an actor, I was determined to make an impression with the limited opportunities that I was given and my role increased in significance as the shoot progressed and as Nikhil was able to ascertain my strength. That one particular scene with Akshay is a personal highlight - I grew up dancing to Tu Cheez Barri Hai Mast Mast and then one fine day, I was shouting at Akshay Kumar in a blockbuster film....seems surreal right?
Why do you feel certain Bollywood flicks do really well in foreign markets and “flop” in India?
I don't like the usage of the term 'hit' or 'flop' - many masterpiece films have made a loss at the box office. If you measure a hit by box office sales, all you can really measure is how successful the marketing strategy of the film was, i.e. the promos, the music and the star appeal - it does not really mean much more than that. Patiala House is a hit film in my opinion because it will leave a positive legacy behind with its music, performances and message. What else can we ask for from a film?
Any tips for other youngsters out there attempting to break into Bollywood?
Dream to become an actor and not a Star, that way you will enjoy the struggle and appreciate the rewards. Stardom is god given but being a good actor, requires years of training, hard work and the ability to master the craft. It is the hardest thing I have done in my life but definitely the most rewarding as well. I act, therefore I am !
Who is Armaan Kirmani in his free time and when he is not acting?
Armaan Kirmani has no free time. In our industry there is no such thing as a weekend or a holiday. But in the odd moments where I can force myself to switch off (very rare, I must confess) - I like to watch movies, play and watch almost any sport in the world and eat my mom's cooking!
What kinds of differences do you find between Eastern and Western Cinema and how do you plan to come over them?
I don't worry too much about the differences - I have a western upbringing with eastern routes. Depending on what type of cinema I am working in, I am fortunate enough to be able to tune into the western or eastern frequency. Cinema is Cinema, whether it is Hollywood or Bollywood - it is not the actors that change, it is the writers. I am an actor, I need to merely satisfy my Director in accordance with his vision of the script.
So when do we next see you on screen? Any forthcoming projects?
I am currently finishing filming for debutant Director, Naveen Medaram's London Life who was previously involved in the post production process for films like The Dark Knight, Harry Potter and Iron Man 2.
Well, let us have some of your Bollywood Facts for your fans out there…
Favourite actor: by craft - Manoj Bajpai, by inspiration - Shah Rukh Khan.
Favourite actress: Vidya Balan but I also currently have a fondness for Sonam Kapoor. My childhood favourite is Kajol and Jaya Bachchan is my all time favourite.
Favourite singer: Atif Aslam and Sunidi Chahuan, one so unorthodox and the other so traditionally perfect and versatile.
Favourite song: Kyun Main Jagoon (and yes I am biased).