Actor Arjun Mathur talks about his new film Coffee Bloom, first time directors and typecasting
Rjun Mathur is quite an oddball. To begin with, he does two consecutive gay roles in the I Am films and Migration, and then proceeds to play the side-kick in Luck By Chance and My Name Is Khan, goading Bollywood to typecast him. But Mathur doesn’t let it affect him. “After playing a homosexual and a supporting actor, I got calls to play the same role. It is a constant fight and I like it. I’ve been following Rajkummar Rao’s work, right from Ragini MMS, and he is my inspiration,” says the son of a hotelier, who has no connections in the film industry, no chiseled physique to show off and a penchant for offbeat scripts. The actor has come a long way since his last outing, Fireflies (2011), which came at a time when Mathur’s three-year-old marriage had fallen apart. His latest, Coffee Bloom, directed by Manu Warrier also sees Sugandha Ram and Mohan Kapoor. “I play Dev Anand who meets his long-lost love Anika when he visits his coffee estate and is forced to face his hurtful past,” begins the 33-year-old, who incidentally, is not a fan of the beverage.
Break the rule
The Delhi-based actor still feels like an outsider. Calling the film industry a moneymaking machine, Mathur, a product of the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, New York, says, “I find it difficult to relate to some of the latest releases. There is no mainstream, independent, art or commercial cinema. It is good or bad cinema. First time directors are willing to take the risk. And I’m glad to be an outsider, as once you fit in you start doing what everybody else does.”
Born in London and having worked with a few international directors like Mira Nair, he has strong opinions about the two industries. “People are willing to share information in Hollywood. I think the mindset of people has to broaden here. I don’t like it when people associate themselves with one camp. Not many know who Tom Hank’s son is or what he is doing. The movie Whiplash shows how a lot of people struggled to be what they are today,” he says. Commenting on trends in Bollywood, Mathur states that the old rules don’t apply any more. “The films with the biggest of stars fail sometimes. Then there was Queen, which won all the awards last year. I have deep respect for Aamir Khan and have also assisted him in two films (Rang De Basanti and Mangal Pandey: The Rising) but I personally couldn’t relate to PK,” he admits. Moving on, Mathur tells us that he has Couching Tiger Mannu. It’s his first comedy and he plays Mannu, a man who discovers couch surfing. Then there is Angry Indian Goddesses and Anu Menon’s next, where he plays actress Kalki Koechlin’s husband.
Coffee Bloom is scheduled to release on March 6.
— Mrinalini Sundar