Is it even a Bollywood movie if it doesn’t end with a dramatic airport chase? Little did I know this story would start with one. The caffeine in my veins powered a ‘world is ending’ sprint out of a–very delayed– flight back to Mumbai on a Friday evening. I dodged through the crowd, made it through baggage claim and managed to find a quiet corner just in time for the interview call. If I was chaos in motion that evening, Aditya Roy Kapur ushered in the calm at hello.
“Everything in moderation, including moderation,” he quotes Oscar Wilde as he reveals that he’s been striving to reach that sweet spot of equilibrium between work and play. The only exception to the rule? Extreme haircuts he’s had over the years. “I was crazy about the song Ice Ice Baby and was adamant on getting Vanilla Ice’s haircut, which I then rocked for a whole year in second grade,” he laughs. Whether it was sporting the staple ‘90s kid mushroom cut on his curly hair, going completely bald in the ninth grade or experimenting with an Afro– safe to say his hair has seen it all.
‘You just want attention,’ he mimics his school teacher complaining about his bold choices but admits that maybe she saw something he didn’t. But if it really was about grabbing eyeballs, why is Kapur still such an enigma in the one place overflowing with validation–social media? His social media strategy meetings involve fewer algorithm and reel trend discussions and more of his team convincing him to post something at least once a month, if not every week. “When I joined Instagram, I very quickly realised that it’s not something I’m taking to,” he shares.
Having grown up being the sporty kid, he prefers the outdoors over having his head in his phone, “I consider my generation lucky that we didn’t have all of this technology at our disposal. So we were just out, getting our hands dirty, running around like vagabonds. Those were the days,” he reminisces. That being said, he doesn’t dismiss the capabilities of Gen Z, “My niece and nephew know so much more than I did at their age. They’re learning new languages, how to bake cookies, ride horses etc. Kids today learn a lot more in terms of these kinds of skills than my generation did,” he admits.
Taking me back to his own childhood, Aditya reveals that he was the naughty one in class. London Dreams may have been his debut movie in Bollywood, but his first acting stint was in his school plays. “I used to be the guy in the back holding up a placard. It was the perfect thing for me because my motive wasn’t to perform but to bunk my classes,” he confesses. Aditya may have been the backbencher in school, but when it comes to his work, he always does his homework. “With every role, I realise where I can grow,” he says. But while keeping his antenna up and clocking what he needs to improve on, he also makes sure not to beat himself up too much about it and rather have fun with his work.
After exploring the action genre with Om-The Battle Within, Aditya is eager to try his hand at negative roles and out-and-out comedies. “I’m done shooting a film called Gumraah, where I’m playing a double role for the first time. That was definitely an interesting experience. The Night Manager will also be out soon, and Metro In Dino a little later. I’m excited to be working with dada (Anurag Basu) again. Shooting Ludo was so much fun, and I’m really happy to be getting back onto the playing field with him.”
As much as we can’t imagine Bollywood without ARK, his childhood dream wasn’t to become an actor but a cricketer. When that didn’t quite shape up, he found his calling as a VJ before making it big in the Hindi film industry. “Back in the day, I used to host this show called ‘Aditya’s Playlist’, which was essentially just me jamming to music. I had some inputs from the team, but I could pretty much play what I wanted,” he tells me before letting me in on his current favourite artists– Andy Shauf and Kurt Vile. Music, cricket, VJing and acting aside, Aditya discloses that alternate versions of him in the multiverse would probably be directing a movie, driving race cars, flying fighter jets and going to space.
With Ben Giles’ UFO art as his Instagram display picture, I sense that ‘space’ might be an important keyword. “I’ve been seeing so much content about potential UFOs and UAPs (Unexplained Aerial Phenomena) where there have been sightings by military personnel who are now giving official accounts of it. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but wouldn’t it be the craziest thing to spot a UFO flying around?” This brings me to ask him what he would do in the case of alien abduction. “I would ask them if I could fly their ship and go check out where they live,” he laughs. Maybe that could be the plot of the movie he directs once he comes back, I suggest. “Bold of you to assume I’d be returning,” comes a witty reply.
In many ways, Kapur is a contradiction, he’s relatable but layered, approachable yet veiled. Just as you think you know him, he reveals a side you’ve never seen before. But if there’s one thing I take away from this interview, it’s that the appeal of ARK isn’t just in his mystery; it lies in his unapologetic acceptance of all parts and phases of his life without letting it define him.
ELLE India Editor: Ainee Nizami Ahmedi; Photographer: Anai Bharucha; Fashion Editor: Zoha Castelino; Words: Sakshi Sharma; Hair: Aalim Hakim; Make-up: Stephen; Production: CutLoose Productions; Editorial Assistant: Riya Suresh; Assisted by: Kawya Gharat & Sanjali Gupte (styling), Ritesh More (makeup); Brand Coordinator: Aangi Nahta; Artist’s Management Agency: Think Talkies.