Malang actor Aditya Roy Kapur’s attitude makes him a star, not his abs that are a national obsession

THE MAN talks girlfriends and glamour, guitars and rock stars in this freewheeling exchange with the actor

Aditya Roy Kapur Aditya Roy Kapur

I am used to being objectified,” says Aditya Roy Kapur with a chuckle. He has only just finished flexing his biceps for a circle of waiting photographers and now we are debating whether the pose will end up as a meme on social media. “I probably shouldn’t have. That was an aberration,” he says, shrugging it off almost as soon as the thought occurs to him.

His introduction to an adoring audience as a Channel V video jockey came with a shot of him shirtless on a beach in Goa. Cut to Malang — over a decade later. Everything has changed and nothing has changed. Aditya jokes about his “bikini body,” while simultaneously refusing to embrace the ‘male sex symbol’ tag. “It’s not 

like I’m uncomfortable with the idea. Either way, I don’t take these tags seriously.”

As we discover, the 34-year-old Aashiqui 2 actor doesn’t take stardom too seriously either — and it’s a quality that is more attractive than those enviable abdominal muscles. After all, abs may come and go, but attitude is forever.

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That said, Aditya’s fit frame is still a big talking point. As I shoot questions at him, he is chowing down on an oats and egg concoction; redeemed by a few glossy strawberries. It looks entirely unappetising, but he insists it isn’t. “This is all I eat for breakfast. I’m not tortured by it at all. I do feel like I’m on a constant diet though. I have found that trying to be consistent with it is the main challenge for me. I used to keep yo-yoing; from being extremely fit to literally putting on eight kilos overnight. That can be mentally draining, especially when you have to keep pulling yourself back and making amends.” 

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Despite his fondness for sport — Aditya has played both cricket and football from an early age — he wasn’t always lean. “Before my growth spurt in grade seven, I was a podgy little kid. Shooting up in height did help aggregate the fat across different parts of my body, which helped the illusion of fitness (laughs). It isn’t easy though. I have been working out since I was sixteen or seventeen. I am lucky that fitness has always been a part of my life, but having to stay this fit is a challenge… especially if you like your food. I miss midnight binges and just being able to eat what I want, when I want it. After a while on low carbs, just a simple slice of bread can make your mouth water.” 

Before Fitoor in 2016, Aditya had to drop 22 kilos. “I had basically ballooned up to 101 kilos on a road trip to America,” he confesses. “I was just pulling cookies out of my pocket and depositing them into this bottomless pit that had become my stomach.” Piling on the pounds is easy when pizza cravings hit, but Aditya would rather not repeat the experience — unless a wildly inspiring role requires it. “I don’t know if I could say I’d be comfortable putting on 20 kilos for a role (like Christian Bale did for American Hustle). I would definitely be uncomfortable with the thought of having to lose the weight again. But if I was inspired enough to play the character, in a project that was undeniably amazing, I would do it. I might pile on 15 kilos and skip the last five (laughs), but yes, I’d do it.”

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For a bloke who started out with no acting ambitions, Aditya is willing to do the heavy lifting his career requires — both literally and figuratively. He doesn’t plan too far ahead and while he has goals he’d like to achieve, he’d rather keep them to himself. “In the beginning, it was all an experiment. It was about finding a love for it (acting) and discovering this was what I wanted to do. It’s been a journey of constantly changing goal posts. Not that I set too many goals as such; other than just wanting to continue to explore myself as an actor. There are definitely things that I’d like to do, and experiences that I’d like to have, but I keep them to myself. As an actor, eventually you are going from one job to the next and there is only so much you can plan. It’s about the scripts that come to you. Your fate changes every time a film comes out. There are too many variables for you to be able to say, with any amount of certainty, that you are going to be somewhere in the next three or five years.”

Going with the flow comes naturally to Aditya and it seems to take the edge off the stress that sticks to stardom. “I think I have made my peace with this life (as an actor) and all the aspects of fame. I was slowly broken into being a famous person,” he laughs, talking about his early days as a “little-known” VJ, followed by a slow rise to “movie star famous” when Aashiqui 2 “really took things to another level,” in terms of recognition. “I’ve had this gradual process of being able to suss out and gauge what fame implies; I wasn’t thrown into the deep end and I am grateful for that,” Aditya confesses.

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“Sometimes my life feels like a series of extremes strung together. Two years ago, I did this Dream Team Bollywood tour (with Karan Johar, Katrina Kaif, Alia Bhatt, Parineeti Chopra, Varun Dhawan, Sidharth Malhotra and Badshah). We were flying around in private jets and living like rock stars. After weeks of being treated like royalty, I went to Burning Man for a nine-day festival and I was living in a tent and washing my own plate in the middle of a desert. I enjoy the extremes, but I don’t want to get too used to either,” says Aditya, who still rides a Royal Enfield Machismo 500 motorcycle, when he isn’t being chauffeur-driven in his BMW 530E. He still eats at his local seafood specialty restaurant, though he now ventures there with a cap on. When he isn’t stuck under a spotlight for film promotions, he embraces his anonymity as best he can. “I’ve become quite good at keeping a low profile,” he laughs, louder still when I ask how he manages to keep his love life out of the papers. “A magician never reveals his secrets,” says Aditya, though he is candid enough to admit that he isn’t a serial dater. “I tend to end up in long relationships. Two years, three years… I’ve been in a five-year relationship.” “Let’s name names,” I push. “Let’s not,” he laughs, making it a point to clarify that he isn’t getting married this year, despite many ‘reports’ to this effect. “Sunday lunch is a ritual at my parents’ home. My Dad cooks mutton and we sit and we eat until our eyes pop out of their sockets. My brothers attend with their wives. And I go without a wife. There’s no pressure. My mother isn’t pushing for grandkids,” he chuckles.

At 34, Aditya Roy Kapur still has a lot of living to do. He has an endless wish list of bands he’d like to see in concert, including Radiohead, R.E.M. and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Though he refuses to chart his own course, he concedes he’d like to put out an album at some point; given that he plays the guitar and writes his own songs. By his own admission, he’s a bit of a hoarder, so — in a sincere attempt to declutter — he has recently given away far too many clothes. If he likes something, he will buy it in multiple colours and admits that he may have an addiction problem when it comes to shorts. “So much so,” he laughs, “that my mother will occasionally tell me to go pull on a pair of pants.” In 2020, Aditya has some big films on the anvil, but instead we chat about the fact that he really needs to buy a few new suits (he owns only one). He’s not big on “self-pampering” either, but he agrees that a few more massages won’t do him any harm. Having already amassed a legion of fans and delivered multiple blockbuster films, this shining star has unpretentious aspirations. Keeping it real has never been cooler.

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ADITYA'S FAVOURITE FILMS 

“I grew up watching action films. I used to force my Dad to watch these arbit Sylvester Stallone movies that no one else was watching. I have seen some really weird, early Schwarzenegger movies too — a young Arnold, with a really thick accent and terrible acting. But I love the genre and I find myself gravitating towards it even now.” 

“I remember spending one summer with my Nani and watching a lot of old films. She was actually a huge fan of Mithun, as was I. Growing up, I would occasionally watch Hindi movies with my brother, Siddharth. Some close-ups of those dramatic dialogues from Saudagar have been imprinted on my brain forever. I don’t know why!”

ADITYA'S MANTRAS FOR LIFE 

“My mother grew up as a dancer and performer. If there’s one thing I learnt from her, it is that the show must go on. She would always say, ‘You have to find a way to make things work,’ and so I come from that school of thought. I understand that there are so many people involved — and so much is invested — in what we do. I don’t seek out drama. As far as possible, I try to quell it.”

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Pictures: Avinash Gowariker

Creative and Fashion Direction: Nupur Mehta Puri

Production: Neha Ahuja for N2Root

All Clothes: United Colors of Benetton

Location: Westend by K Mordani Realty LLP and Ravi Makhija, Property Buyers Club

Make-up: Stephen Jadhav

Hair: Aalim Hakim

Dressman: Saquib

Assistant Stylist: Kajal Singh

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