In his decade-spanning career, Rampal has won numerous awards and
nominations. He has won the National Film Award for Best Supporting
Actor and the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor for Rock On!!.
Rampal became a film producer with I See You (2006), in which Rampal acted in the lead role. Outside of acting, Rampal has been involved in other business ventures. He has launched Lost Festival through association with Percept Limited.
Arjun Rampal was born in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, India on 26 November 1972.He comes from a Ramgariha Sikh Punjabi background. His father is Amarjeet Rampal, a Sikh and his mother is Gwen Rampal, a Dutch woman.
Arjun and his younger sister attended the prestigious Kodaikanal International School located in the Palani Hills, Tamil Nadu, where his mother was a teacher.. His maternal grandmother is from Holland who got married to his grandfather while he was fighting Japanese invasion at Burma. They got divorced and his mother brought him up as a single parent. His maternal grandfather, Brigadier Gurdayal Singh, was an army personality, an efficient engineer, he had contributed in making guns for GCF factory situated in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradhesh. The factory has a special gun named after his grandfather. The gun is named ‘Gurdayal Gun. Arjun along with his sister attended the Kodaikanal International School situated at Palani Hills in Tamil Nadu. He had spent his teenage days at Devlali, Nasik, where his grandfather got settled after retirement. His mother was a teacher in the school at the time. Arjun went on to complete his Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Hindu College in Delhi.
2001–05: Early lead roles
Rampal made his acting debut in Rajiv Rai's Pyaar Ishq Aur Mohabbat (2001) opposite Sunil Shetty, Aftab Shivdasani and Kirti Reddy. The film was a failure at the box office but Rampal gave a show stealing performance and earned all the attention. He earned critical acclaim for his performance in the movie. Taran Adarsh of indiaFM wrote "PYAAR ISHQ AUR MOHABBAT is a showcase for Arjun Rampal to exhibit his talent. The guy looks dashing and emotes with utmost sincerity. He's handled the emotional moments with maturity, which is so rare for a first-timer. A confident debut!" This established Rampal as a leading actor in the Indian film industry. He was nominated for the Filmfare Award for Best Male Debut but swapped the awards in the Best Male Debut category at the Star Screen and IIFA ceremonies.
His next release was Ashu Trikha's Deewaanapan, in which Rampal was paired with Dia Mirza. He earned critical acclaim for his performance but the film flopped at the box office. Taran Adarsh of indiaFm wrote "Arjun Rampal carries the film on his broad shoulders and comes up with a sincere performance that is consistent throughout. He is wonderful in action sequences and springs a pleasant surprise in the emotional moments by delivering the apposite expressions." Ashish Magotra of Rediff gave negative reviews on Rampal, writing "Among the actors, Arjun Rampal as the hero does pretty much what he has been known to do. He models. His acting capabilities leave a lot to be desired." His last release of the year was Ashok Mehta's Moksha. It was actually his first film but was released after Pyaar Ishq Aur Mohabbat. Rampal was paired with famous actress Manisha Koirala in a lead role in Moksha. This film marked Rampal's third consecutive flop at the box office but Rampal earned critical acclaim. Taran Adarsh of indiaFm wrote "Arjun Rampal excels in a role that was difficult to portray. He takes giant strides as a performer and proves that he's an actor with an amazing range." Priyanka Bhattacharya of Rediff considered the movie to be "more a 70-mm portfolio for Arjun Rampal than a story."
Rampal's first release of 2002 was Vipul Amrutlal Shah's Aankhen, in which Rampal starred in an ensemble cast featuring Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Sushmita Sen and Paresh Rawal. He played the role of a blind person. The film was ranked above average at box office and became the fourth-highest grossing Bollywood film of 2002, thus becoming Rampal's first hit movie. However, Rampal received negative reviews from critics. Priya Ganapati of Rediff wrote "Arjun Rampal looks good, has a good body and a good screen presence but falls flat, partly due to poor characterisation. His is the only role that appears half-baked and Rampal only makes it worse." Critic Akshay Shah wrote "Arjun Rampal displays talent, looks smashing on screen, but one can’t help feel that he isn’t given a character to match his acting potential. His performance is pleasing but doesn’t do much. He shows improvement as an actor and is great in the second half of the movie, but he still needs to improve on his facial expressions and voice modulation. He has an extremely powerful voice and with the correct modulation is could be used very well." However, Taran Adarsh of indiaFm criticized Rampal's performance. He wrote "Arjun Rampal does not impress. He tries hard but doesn't succeed, partly due to a not-too-strong characterisation."
His next release was Kundan Shah's Dil Hai Tumhaara opposite Rekha, Preity Zinta, Mahima Chaudhry and Jimmy Shergill. The film was a flop. Rampal did not get much scope in the film as it was a female-centric story. The movie received mixed reviews. M. Ali Ikram of Planet Bollywood gave negative comments of Rampal, writing "I must say that Rampal has an unemotive eye problem. It can´t convey emotion. Please, someone get the man some glycerin next time he´s expected to weep on camera." Taran Adarsh praised Rampal's performance, considering it to be impressive despite the film being female-centric. Ronjita Kulkarni of Rediff gave satirical comments on Rampal, writing "Arjun Rampal catwalks into the role with his easy smile and not-so-natural acting. Thankfully, he has no emotional scenes to tackle."
In 2003, Rampal played a lead role in Naresh Malhotra's Dil Ka Rishta opposite Aishwarya Rai. Rampal earned critical acclaim for his performance but the film was a failure at the box office. Ronjita Kulkarni of Rediff wrote: "Arjun Rampal shakes off his wooden image and comes up with a good performance. He is subtle and convincing in the emotional scenes. He has certainly moved on from Pyaar Ishq Aur Mohabbat." Taran Adarsh wrote "Arjun Rampal does a sincere job. He is maturing into a fine actor." It was ranked the thirtieth film of the year on the basis of box office collections. Rampal's next role was in Khalid Mohammed's Tehzeeb opposite Urmila Matondkar. Rampal played a Muslim in the film. The film was a critical success but Rampal's role went unnoticed once again due to a female-centric movie. However, Taran Adarsh praised Rampal's performance as he wrote "Arjun Rampal balances the goings-on beautifully. Although his role is not as powerful as Shabana or Urmila's, the easy-going attitude his character reflects injects that certain sheen to the enterprise."
Rampal's career was becoming a failure as his films were consecutively flopping but his talent got him a lead role in Rajiv Rai's action thriller Asambhav. It was Rampal's second project with Rai as the two had previously worked together in Rampal's debut movie Pyaar Ishq Aur Mohabbat. Rampal starred opposite Priyanka Chopra and played the role of an Indian commando Captain Aditya Arya. The film was entirely shot in Switzerland. Released on July 23, 2004, Asambhav was Rampal's only release of the year. It flopped at the box office. Although the story of the film was criticized, Rampal received mixed to negative reviews for his first action role. Shahid Khan of Planet Bollywood wrote: "Arjun Rampal looks great. And he suits the mould of the action hero very well. His character is not fleshed out very well so Arjun does not get the opportunity to actually act. Even his action scenes are limited. Most of the shots are of him running and firing and running. His true action scenes are towards the end when he tries to kill all these villains who never seem to die." Rampal received negative reviews from Taran Adarsh. "Arjun Rampal does play the super-hero who bashes up 20 guys at a go, but the role offers him no scope to display histrionics." Ronjita Kulkarni of Rediff wrote "I will not point a finger at Rampal, who looks incredibly hot in the film. He is not required to really act. All he has to do is look serious, beat up some guys, and dance on a few occasions. And he does that well." Subhash K. Jha of IANS praised Rampal's action hero performance. He wrote "Arjun Rampal comes into his own as an action hero. His controlled body movements and his overall penchant for understatement in a film that shrieks for attention is a relief."
Rampal's first release of 2005 was Satish Kaushik's Vaada, in which he played a lead role opposite Ameesha Patel and Zayed Khan. The film was a flop but Rampal earned critical acclaim for his performance of a blind person. Pankaj Shukla wrote "Arjun Rampal, on the other hand, plays a character that does not suit him, though he tries his best to prove his mettle." Patcy N of Rediff praised Rampal, writing "Arjun Rampal has done a good job; his is a subdued performance, and the model-turned-actor looks great in most scenes."
Rampal's next release was Vikram Bhatt's multi-starrer action film Elaan. The film managed to do well and became an average-grosser at the box office. It was Rampal's second hit movie in his career and first hit in three years. Rampal received critical appreciation for his performance in Elaan. Narbir Gosal of Planet Bollywood wrote: "Of the three hero´s Arjun Rampal makes best impact. He has become comfortable on screen and fits the action hero role just with the same ease as he did the comedic narrators role in Tehzeeb. The role doesn´t require much acting muscle, but Rampal lends a certain charm to his character, and his character gets the most sympathy." Subhash K. Jha of IANS praised Rampal and wrote "Arjun is pretty much on his own. Once again playing a man with responsibilities he brings a controlled conviction to both his scenes with his screen daughter and his engrossing death scene." Merril Diniz of Rediff wrote "Arjun Rampal is almost believable as the rugged ex-cop. He has a deep baritone and svelte body language."
Rampal's third release of the year was Yakeen, in which Rampal was paired in a lead role with Priyanka Chopra for the second time. This film was also a failure. However, Rampal received acclaim for improving his emotive acting as he had received negative response for his week emotional display. Taran Adarsh praised Rampal's performance. He wrote "Cast in a complex role, Arjun Rampal delivers his best performance so far. The role would've lost its bearings had it been entrusted to an inferior actor, but Arjun sinks his teeth into it and emerges trumps. The actor portrays the gamut of emotions with aplomb and delivers a flawless performance. He is truly efficient in sequences when he starts suspecting his wife's fidelity in the first half. The shower sequence as also the intermission point display Arjun's range as an actor."
Rampal's last release of 2005 was Apoorva Lakhia's Ek Ajnabee opposite Amitabh Bachchan and Perizaad Zorabian. This film featured Rampal in his first negative role as Shekhar Verma, the bodyguard of a child, but is actually a corrupted person. Rampal did not get favourable reviews from Vipin Vijayan of Rediff. Subhash K Jha praised Rampal's performance and wrote "The narrative has some nice supporting performances, particularly Arjun Rampal who's gone both over and under the skin of his bar-owner ex-army man's role. Not only does Rampal look right, he feels right." His first release of 2006 was the love triangle based Humko Tumse Pyaar Hai opposite Bobby Deol and Ameesha Patel. This film was a delayed release. Satyajit of SmasHits wrote about Rampal "Arjun Rampal has also been promising and it shows in his performance. The media might have labeled him "wooden actor" but he has shown great improvisation in emotional scenes." Taran Adarsh wrote "Arjun is awkward at places [initial portions], but gets into the rhythm subsequently. The emotional sequences in the second half clearly indicate that he's come a long way." His next appearance was the multi-starrer anthology Darna Zaroori Hai. Rampal starred in the story "Spirits Do Come" opposite Bipasha Basu and Makrand Deshpande, directed by Prawal Raman. Despite a star cast, the film flopped at the box office.
Rampal reprised the supporting role of Jasjit in Don - The Chase Begins Again, a remake of the 1978 movie Don. The role had been played by Pran in the original Don. Don - The Chase Begins Again starred Shahrukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra in lead roles and the movie became a huge hit. The film proved to be a breakthrough movie for Rampal, although Khan earned the most attention. Taran Adarsh wrote "Arjun Rampal's character could've been better developed. Despite the shortcomings, he makes a sincere attempt."
Rampal's last release of 2006 was I See You, in which Rampal played a lead role opposite newcomer Vipasha Agarwal. Rampal co-produced the movie with his wife Mehr Jesia. The movie was shot entirely in London, England. Like his past movies, I See You was also a failure at the box office and received poor reviews. However, Rampal earned critical acclaim for his work. Bollywood Mantra wrote "Arjun Rampal has the look and style to carry off the Casanova image and even his acting skills seem to have improved tremendously. His performance can be noted as an above average one. He carries some funny moments and some of the emotional moments well." Taran Adarsh wrote "I SEE YOU rests on Arjun's shoulders. Arjun is efficient in a role that doesn't really demand histrionics. He has proved his credentials in the past and his performance in this film is at par with his earlier works. He works best in the dramatic portions."
In 2007, Rampal starred in a negative role in Om Shanti Om opposite Shahrukh Khan and the debuting Deepika Padukone. The film emerged as the year's highest grossing film in India and the overseas market, and became India's highest grossing production ever up to that point with a worldwide gross of over 1.48 billion. It was Rampal's biggest hit in his career and earned him critical acclaim for his villainous role. Taran Adarsh wrote "Arjun Rampal is a complete revelation. Cast in a negative role this time, he enacts his part with panache and style." Sukanya Verma of Rediff wrote "Rampal's persona exudes too much warmth to pass off as a cold-blooded antagonist." Rampal won the Zee Cine Award for Best Actor in a Negative Role for his villainous performance in Om Shanti Om and got nominations at the IIFA, Star Screen and Apsara ceremonies.
2008–present: Critical acclaim
Following the success of Om Shanti Om, Rampal started to rise as a successful actor. In 2008, Rampal gave an excellent performance in Rock On!! as Joseph "Joe" Mascarenhas, the lead guitarist of a band, a poor idealist who never learned that self-promotion is more important than music in a remixed world. Rampal learned guitar to prepare for his role. His performance was widely acclaimed, earning him the prestigious National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor at the 56th National Film Awards, Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award at the 54th Filmfare Awards, IIFA Award for Best Supporting Actor at the 10th IIFA Awards and Screen Award for Best Supporting Actor. This brought wider success and acclaim to Rampal. Noted critic Nikhat Kazmi of Times of India praised Rampal's performance and wrote "If you actually had to choose, then the vote would go for Arjun Rampal who displays a newfound maturity and looks absolutely groovy with his windblown hair and his guitar-strumming stance." Taran Adarsh wrote "Arjun Rampal delivers his finest performance to date. Watch him emote those tough emotional moments and also as a failed person in the latter parts and you'd realize that he has only grown with the passage of time. Superb is the word!" Martin D'Souza of Bollywood Trade News Network praised Rampal, writing "Arjun Rampal is slowly coming into his own. After playing a character with a negative shade in OM SHANTI OM, he returns with another powerful performance as Joe Mascarenhas the lead guitarist of the band. Vibrant at first, and then subdued he walks the act with a rock star gait."
Later that year, he starred in Rituparno Ghosh's English-language arthouse film The Last Lear, alongside Amitabh Bachchan and Preity Zinta. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was received well at a number of other film festivals. Upon its theatrical release in India, Rampal got favourable reviews for his performance. He gave a show-stealing performance. Taran Adarsh wrote "Arjun is evolving into a fine actor. After Rock On!!, this is another performance that would fetch Arjun laurels." Martin D'Souza considered it to be Rampal's best performance to date. Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN praised Rampal's performance, writing "Arjun Rampal shines as the guilt-ridden filmmaker, too ashamed to even apologise for his selfishness." His last release of the year EMI was a flop at the box office.
Rampal's only release of 2009 was Deepak Tijori's Fox, in which he starred opposite Sunny Deol, Sagarika Ghatge and Udita Goswami. The film mainly received negative reviews and flopped at the box office but Rampal earned critical acclaim. Taran Adarsh praised Rampal's performance as perfect. Martin D'Souza praised Rampal's performance, writing "Arjun Rampal is moving from strength to strength. He is confident in his role; as a lawyer and then as the one who has been fixed."
2010 would go on to become the most successful year of Rampal's career with three back to back hits. The first was Sajid Khan's comedy film Housefull, in which he starred in a supporting role. The film received negative reviews but became a huge hit at the box office. Rampal's next release was Prakash Jha's multi-starrer Raajneeti. Rampal received critical acclaim for his supporting role of Prithvi in the movie. Taran Adarsh wrote "Arjun is a revelation and what a terrific performance he pitches in. He's like an untamed lion." However, Raja Sen of Rediff gave mixed reviews on Rampal, writing "Rampal is the mercurial elder brother, speaking in chaste Hindi and curdling his eyebrows to show intensity. He seems more confident than before and that gives him some presence, but he still can't act, a fact highlighted in a scene where he abruptly breaks into a song and does a peculiar audition for Heath Ledger's Joker role." He was nominated for the Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award. He won the award in the Best Supporting Actor at the IIFA, Apsara and Zee Cine categories. His last release of the year was Siddharth Malhotra and Karan Johar's We Are Family, in which he played a lead role opposite Kajol and Kareena Kapoor. It was an average grosser and Rampal's first successful movie that featured him in a lead role. Taran Adarsh wrote "Arjun continues to surprise. Rock On!!, Housefull, Raajneeti and now We Are Family indicates the growth of this actor. He handles the emotional moments well too." Pankaj Sabnani of Bollywood Trade News Network considered Rampal's performance to be balanced.
In 2011, Rampal made a small appearance with a supporting role in David Dhawan's Rascals opposite Sanjay Dutt, Ajay Devgn and Kangana Ranaut. Taran Adarsh praised his performance and considered it to be small but significant. He wrote "One is surprised at the inclusion of Arjun Rampal in a madcap entertainer, albeit in a small but significant role. Arjun contributes to the comic portions of Rascals."
His next release was Anubhav Sinha's science fiction Ra.One, in which Rampal played the titular negative role opposite Shahrukh Khan and Kareena Kapoor but his appearance was of very few scenes. The movie became a successful film in India and overseas and received mixed reviews. Rampal's new bald look earned him a lot of appreciation and popularity within the audiences. Majority of the fans considered his Ra.One look to be better than Khan's G.One. He earned critical acclaim for his villainous performance. Taran Adarsh praised his performance by writing "Arjun Rampal pulls his act with effortlessness and style. Also, Arjun's well-designed look is admirable." Martin D'Souza praised Rampal's performance and considered him to be the savior of the film that was being flawless in the second half. He wrote "It's only after the interval that the plot meanders a bit, loses it sting and almost falls apart like a pixealised image, before Arjun lights up the screen." Arthur J Pais of Rediff wrote "The best person to gain from the film directed by Anubhav Sinha with more inane and crude sexual jokes than in any recent Hindi film, is Arjun Rampal. His body language and brooding face creates a quietly menacing villain." Raja Sen wrote "Arjun Rampal is the best thing in the biggest budget Indian feature of all time". Aseem Chhabra considered Rampal to be the "most interesting element of the film."
Rampal's first release of 2012 was Madhur Bhandarkar's Heroine, in which Rampal starred as the lead actor opposite Kareena Kapoor as the titular protagonist. Rampal played the role of Aryan Khanna, a well-known actor and the love interest of Kapoor. The movie failed to become a success at the box office with an earning of 22.5 crore (US$4.1 million) nett at the weekend. It was declared below average by Box Office India.
Rampal's second release was Prakash Jha's Chakravyuh, in which he essayed the role of a police officer SP Adil Khan. Rampal played the lead role opposite Abhay Deol, Esha Gupta, Manoj Bajpai, Om Puri and Anjali Patil. The film flopped at the box office with a gross 15.88 crore (US$2.89 million) in the first week. However, Rampal earned critical acclaim for his performance as a police officer. Taran Adarsh considered it to be Rampal's toughest and best performance. He wrote "This is, without doubt, Arjun Rampal's most accomplished act. Sure, the actor has impressed you in the past [ROCK ON!! in particular], but his act in CHAKRAVYUH is an eye-opener. Watch him confront his friend [Abhay] or the one in the finale... this is a new Arjun completely." Rohit Vats of CNN-IBN wrote "Arjun Rampal’s image and dialogue delivery mar his chances but it is one of his better performances, in fact he has given Abhay Deol a run for his money in double shots." Martin D'Souza wrote "Arjun Rampal as the hot-headed cop who will fight injustice does justice to his role."
Rampal's third release was the comedy movie Ajab Gazabb Love, in which Rampal essayed the double role of twin brothers Karan and Arjun, based on the popular duo of Karan Arjun from the hit 1995 film of the same name. Though the film flopped at the box office, Rampal earned critical acclaim for his double role performance. Martin D'Souza wrote "There's a double dose from Arjun Rampal as the girl's twin brothers. Marvelous is just one word to describe Arjun. Actually he is just brilliant." Madhureeta Mukherjee of Times of India wrote "Arjun Rampal's, comic-timing is a revelation. His double-act entertains and adds energy to this comedy."
Arjun Rampal married former Miss India and supermodel Mehr Jesia and they have two daughters, Mahikaa, born on 17 January 2002 and Myra, born June 2005. He was first spotted by Rohit Bal in a night club who went on to showcase him in his collections and Arjun stayed with him before making a move to Mumbai.
In 2012, Arjun Rampal, in association with Percept Limited launched Lost Festival. Lost' is a music festival driven by culture, tradition & soul.