Qaidi Band: Aadar Jain on his Bollywood debut and nepotism debate

first_imgHe has read lines with his cousin brother Ranbir Kapoor, assisted Farah Khan and Karan Johar, watched his grandfather-starrer Mera Naam Joker innumerable times and seen his eminent family go through many highs and low. It is time for Aadar Jain to make his debut on screen. In the prison-based musical drama Qaidi Band, Aadar Jain plays Sanju, a twentysomething under trial with aspirations to be a singer. Says Jain, “He thinks he has figured out jail life – how to pass time, go about the system because spending time in it has taught him all this.” Jain will hope that the fate of his first film will be better than that of cousins, Ranbir and Kareena Kapoor, and his own brother, Armaan, who failed to make an impact with Lekar Hum Deewana Dil.In an interview to, Jain talks about his “Jeena Yaahan, Marna Yaahan” character, being half Kapoor and the nepotism controversy.  You are a member of one of Hindi cinema’s oldest families. Did you grow up wanting to be an actor?No. The realisation happened late, in high school. I was not that good at studies. I was more inclined towards sports. I play the drums too. Initially I did theatre to bunk class. I got a high in entertaining people – from playing a prank in class to doing a play in school and emcee shows.I didn’t grow up surrounded by film people. My father is a businessman. As a kid I had been to the shoot of Kabhie Khushie Kabhie Gham in London and then later on the sets of Wake Up Sid to see Ranbir work. I used to get lost in films. They are so surreal. I wanted to educate myself on how films were made. So I went to New York Film Academy, learned the Meisner technique and then method acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film institute. I returned more confident and independent.  But I still was not ready to face the camera. So I decided to go to a film set and see the whole experience for myself.advertisementThat’s how you came to be an assistant director Happy New Year and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.On HNY, I was like a lost puppy. I didn’t really know anything. I got yelled at on first day. I did my first clap. During ADHM, Ranbir forced me to read the lines with him. In a way it was good for me too because then I used to get to do them. How did you land the lead role in Qaidi Band?After my return I was doing acting courses, dance workshops and working out in the gym.  Then one day I met [YRF casting director] Shanoo Sharma and she asked if I want to audition? I thought I was a bit raw still. I did give an audition and she said, ‘You’re good. Keep auditioning.’ That went on for three months. The whole period was very unnerving for me. I kept wondering, Am I getting this or not? Am I actually a good actor? Or am I wasting my parents’ money and my time by doing these things? You have given so much to it and you want something in return. I wouldn’t get called for three weeks.  But I kept going back for auditions. So I guess Shanoo liked me.Then one day I was called to the fourth floor of YRF, where I met Adi Sir [Aditya Chopra]. He told me about a big opportunity for a lead part. It’s surreal how my life has changed in a space of a year.  I never thought I would do a movie so fast. Sometimes you try to plan your life out, but life happens unexpectedly.How did your family respond to the news?The extended family didn’t know. YRF wanted secrecy. So I just told my parents, my brother Armaan and my nani. I wanted her blessings. She told me not to be disheartened if things didn’t work out.She has seen the family go through successes and failures. My nanaji had to mortgage his house after the failure of Mera Naam Joker. They were happy and surprised that I did it on my own.There were articles on how nepotism played a role in you getting the three-film deal. The first impression people get is that he comes from a film family, has a YRF film, so there has to be some nepotism. When I was presented in front of the media, I was very excited. Ranbir conducted the whole thing very well. I worked very hard for this film. I have broken my nose during the course of the film. I have given my blood and sweat. But every actor has to do it, it’s not just me. I went back home and celebrated with my family.advertisementNext day I woke up to front page news of people attacking the picture of me and my nana (Raj Kapoor). I have been very enamoured by my grandfather. My mother [Rima] used to play Mera Naam Joker ever so often. I never got to meet my grandfather but I hope somewhere he is inside me. The picture to me was symbolic of that sentiment. People took the picture literally.I was upset when I read the comments, some of them were very harsh and personal. I understand being a public figure you have to be thick-skinned which I am not right now because I am very new to the industry. I am not going to tell people that this is what I did to get it. I am going to come and let my work speak for itself. Your work defines you. I have great examples in my family who have proven themselves.Qaidi Band is a different debut in the sense that you are not a well- macho and dapper hero who dances and romances. You play a prisoner in this. When I first heard the script it was very revealing. My knowledge of jail was limited to Prison Break and The Shawshank Redemption until then. But hearing of life in jail and the under trial situation in our country really moved me. Habib Faisal told me about Machal Lalung, an Assamese man who spent 54 years in jail after which he was told that he hadn’t done any wrong and was released. The undertrials have no funds to afford lawyers. Habib Sir also mentioned the band Flying Souls and Tihar Idol.Everything is so real in this story which is what attracted me to this movie. It is informative and at the same engaging and entertaining. It is a performance-based movie. We got to learn so much. We weren’t allowed to see the monitor ever.  Habib Sir felt that we would get conscious because you are dirty. We drew inspiration from the singers, and picked up nuances of how they were singing. I didn’t know how to play the guitar but by the end of the film I knew how to play the chords of the film’s songs. Movies like this come rarely, the hero ones will come your way later.The first film of your brother, Armaan, didn’t do well. Similarly Saawariya and Refugee weren’t successes. What have you learned from these failures?I have seen the frustration that Armaan faced. You have to pick yourself up and fight. It is easier said than done because it is hard when you have failed.  Nepotism doesn’t matter. Film family doesn’t guarantee you success. There have been people in my family who have not been successful. You may have a connection to probably meet a casting director, but you have to audition and show your talent. If they don’t like it, they go on to next.advertisementPHOTOS | Who are Aadar Jain and Anya Singh, the new YRF faces?ALSO READ | Ranbir Kapoor on cousin Aadar Jain: He will have to face the nepotism debate ALSO WATCH: Amitabh appreciates Ranbir’s acting at India Today Unforgettableslast_img read more