Risk is a part and parcel of leading the life of an actor - Shahid Kapoor | Exclusive Interview

Each actor brings with him their own aura. When you meet Shahid Kapoor, you can't help but notice his no-nonsense, chilled out vibe; a facet that you rarely get to see in celebrities these days. His casual yet extremely stylish appearance, the delightful smile on his face (which he rarely sheds), his penchant for EDM (blasting through his headphones or the iPod dock) and the crazy fan following makes him stand out in an industry full of fake smiles and red carpet ready personalities. Oh, and did I mention a word about his memory? He will remember every word mentioned by you in a previous interview. Again, another rare characteristic.

It would sound cliché if I said that Shahid has come a long way. Indeed, he has, and over the years, we have seen the conviction with which he has essayed each role and his versatility as an actor. A few films starring him may have failed to set the cash registers ringing, but instead of sulking, the Kapoor boy has risen out of every situation like a bright flame, that is ever burning and striving hard to take things a notch higher in the very next move. For someone who is passionate about his profession, Shahid has always earned accolades for his compelling performances. Be it breaking his boy-next-door image for an outstanding performance in Kaminey, creating an impact as the calm and composed Aditya Kashyap in Jab We Met or getting into the Prabhu Dheva mode and adapting a new style of dancing in R... Rajkumar, Shahid has always taken things to the next level with his sincerity and an in-depth analysis of his character.

This time, almost after a year since his last release in December 2013, all eyes are on Kapoor yet again, as he presents a different side of his talent in Vishal Bhardwaj's Hindi adaptation of Hamlet, Haider. Of course, the actor doesn't shy away from stating that this has been the most challenging roles of his career. From sporting four different hairstyles (and shaving all his hair off) to mouthing dialogues in -10 degrees (and below) climate and even performing a monologue with a skull in his hand, Shahid has done it all for Haider. While we can't wait to catch one of the most anticipated films of 2014 this week, here's presenting an excerpt from a rendezvous with the extremely talented, Shahid Kapoor.
All of us here in this industry are taking risks. It’s a part and parcel of leading the life of an actor. Unpredictability, experiments are all a part of this game

How difficult was it to get into the skin of a character like Haider, whose complexities can actually affect one's psyche?
 It's a good question to ask at a time when I have actually experienced something similar. You know, one feels like that after every film. I like doing films that makes you feel like they have brought out a certain part of your personality, that you didn't know existed or was probably passive. It is only during the course of the film that you recognize it more. It's a process of self - discovery, where you understand yourself a little better. Sometimes for your character or the situation surrounding it, you need to probe how you or a person would respond if it happens for real. You need to draw a parallel to be able to portray it correctly, for which you have to delve inside and be honest about how you would actually feel in a situation like that. The feeling can be good, bad or you might have to go through both and you need to be honest enough to express that. One thing that I discovered while reading about actors who have performed Hamlet before, is that it is probably the one role that makes you feel the most inadequate as an actor. Throughout the film, I would constantly feel that I was not able to bring out every possible emotion that the character was going through, especially the layers of complexities and different things that he is dealing with. Eventually, you only get to perform certain scenes where you can emote and the story needs to move forward. I would always ask Vishal sir if he thinks I am able to bring out everything that needs to come out and that's not something that I have felt very often. I consistently felt like I need to somehow do much more while playing the role and I would always feel like I am falling short of giving the character what it needed. Well, all these are some of the things that I have heard most actors (who have played Hamlet) have also gone through. You feel like you are not good enough for this role and that's how I felt throughout the film.

Did you try to internalize the character?
I used to spend a lot of time on my own. Although, we were shooting round the clock and thanks to the weather, we would get extremely tired and pass out as soon as we would reach our respective hotel rooms, whatever time I had to myself did go a lot into thinking about the film and my character.

You have been one of the few actors, who has experimented with different roles. Do you like venturing into the risky zone often?
Absolutely! All of us here in this industry are taking risks. It’s a part and parcel of leading the life of an actor. Unpredictability, experiments are all a part of this game. Working all day long on the sets and trying something new with every project is what keeps us going.
Throughout the film, I would constantly feel that I was not able to bring out every possible emotion that the character was going through, especially the layers of complexities and different things that he is dealing with
Photo credit: Shahid Kapoor for Hello! Magazine
You have always been a keen observer of different kinds of films. Is there any unconventional film that you have liked in the recent years?
-         Barfi! and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag were really nice. I also enjoyed watching the first Gangs of Wasseypur and thought it was simply killer. I liked the first Ishqiya, more than Dedh Ishqiya. Unfortunately, I haven't seen Ship of Theseus, but I have heard amazing things about the film. The Lunchbox is amazing. I thought it was an absolutely phenomenal film and everybody in the film was unreal. Nawaz (Nawazzudin Siddiqui) performed his part so convincingly that his character actually came across as that of an annoying guy. Like when he comes and says 'Sir, sir', sitting on my couch, I actually felt like, 'Dude, what's wrong with this guy?' At one point, I actually wanted Irrfan to slap him. I was like, just slap this guy, it's so annoying. 'Sir sir' I am eating food, 'Sir', I reading a letter, 'Sir', it was just frustrating. So I thought, everybody in the film were absolutely fantastic. Also, The Lunchbox has done amazingly well internationally. There are a lot of other films as well, but it is difficult to remember.

Several actors are taking to the telly tube. Would you like to host a show anytime soon, maybe something like a Bigg Boss?
I can't see beyond Salman in that show! For me, he is the show (laughs). Just the way he stands and asks, 'Toh kya ho raha hain aaj ghar ke andar?' He just has that amazing vibe which makes you want to watch what this guy is going to say next. I can't really draw that parallel, but I think there must be something that might excite me, but Bigg Boss for me is Salman Khan. He is just too awesome. I think when you do something and do it well, people can't see beyond you on that.

Last time, you told me that you are not turning a full fledged producer anytime soon. What about direction?
No no! That's a very difficult thing boss. I haven't thought about it. When you are not in the driver's seat na, everybody wants to drive. It's like when you watch cricket, you keep saying - Arey! Aisa Sachin ne square cut kyun maara? But when you are there, only Sachin Tendulkar knows what he wants to do. So I think a lot of people who are not directors and are just in and around directors might feel that it is easy to direct. But over time, I have understood that it is a very, very difficult job. To make a film, the first thing that you need to have as a film-maker is a story to tell. And it's not about finding a story and making a film. It's about having a story to tell. What you want to say and present on the screen. I think the greatest film-makers have always been people who have had their own way of telling a story. You can take the same story, give it to five different film-makers and all of them will present it differently. That's what makes them great, because it's their voice and language. Cinema has its own vocabulary, you see. They have a language and it's the way they speak. Quintin Tarantino has his own language. That's what is also amazing about Vishal sir. He has his own language. Sometimes, he makes amazing films and sometimes, people don't understand his films. But he has that craft! The kind of music that he creates, visuals that he brings out and complexities of the characters that he brings out is just unreal. A Vishal Bhardwaj film is a Vishal Bhardwaj film. So, I don't know if I have that ability. Just because I have that position or opportunity, doesn't mean I have the ability and that's a very different journey to take. I am still figuring out my abilities as an actor. These are not small decisions you know. These are life altering decisions. It's difficult enough to get one thing right, so you need to spend a lot of time with yourself to get one thing right.
I am still figuring out my abilities as an actor. These (turning full fledged producer) are not small decisions you know. These are life altering decisions
Shahid Kapoor in a photo shoot for Stardust Magazine
You had earlier mentioned that you have seen yourself grow from a boy to man. Does Spirituality have a role to play in this transition?
Yeah, of course! It's a big part of my life and I don't really talk about it much. But it centres me a lot and gives me a lot of focus. I think anything that takes you back to the basics is very crucial, especially for people like us, for the kind of field we are in. It's like being in a stock market, one day you are up, one day you are down. Someday they will say you are amazing and someday you are just like shit. So, you have to deal with that every day. A few darts are always pointed at you. Regardless of the fact that all these people might be a part of something that you did, they will be like - You messed up, you are not looking good today, you have shit choices, you don't know how to act, your body is so bad. It's always like that! And then, there are days when people come up with - you are so amazing, you are the best thing in the world, nobody looks better than you, you are the most desirable. It's totally insane! You need to kind of stay connected with the very basics of life. Family and spirituality are the things that you always seek and you go back to. They make you feel normal. They make you feel like - Alright! I am just another dude. This is just another day, just another job. As difficult, big or strong as it might seem, you know that this is gonna move away and things will come back to normal. Either way, when you get too much appreciation also, it's very scary. You feel like, dude people are expecting too much from you. I am not really that good also, calm down. You feel like telling people that, because you know you might not be able to live up to it. Or when you are really bad, it might turn out that you want to tell people, I just did a bad film and I am not so bad. That's how you personally feel. So yes, family and spirituality are a big part of who I am.

 Theater visits have become extremely common, So, while watching a film with the audience, what are funniest things that you have heard?
It's very scary to watch a film that's not funny with the audience. You never know! If it's a funny film and they go Ha ha ha, you know you have got it right. When there is a mystery or something, they go like (makes a shocked face with his mouth open). So it's like, I don't know if this guy is liking it or not. One needs to choose the right film that you want to go and watch with the audience. There are some films where you must go. Like for R... Rajkumar, I was like dude, let's go to Chandan, watch it with people, who are whistling, clapping. Fortunately, all that actually happened! So, it was the first the time I experienced all of that. I hadn't seen anything like that before. Now, it can't be like that for every film. Like for Haider, if I go all out and be like (snaps fingers and makes a happy face), there will be dead silence and I will be like – Okay! How am I supposed to feel about this now? Whether they are liking it or not. But yeah, I do go to the theaters once in a while and see films. Whenever I feel like there is a film that I can go for and understand what the audience is feeling, I go for it. If you are standing outside the door and even if they think the film is shit, they won't tell you or else, they will throw slippers and you don't want to be there. Or they will probably be nice to you and will say all good things, so you won't be able to view what they feel. It's mostly when you go online and see people's reactions, be it fans or the media, which gives you some perspective. And largely, it's driven by your family, friends and people around you, who view these films and will be honest about what they feel about your work. That's the best way to understand it. Otherwise, it is very difficult!
I think anything that takes you back to the basics is very crucial, especially for people like us, for the kind of field we are in. It's like being in a stock market, one day you are up, one day you are down

 So, what will keep you busy post Haider?
There is Shaandaar opposite Alia Bhatt, which is being directed by Vikas Bahl (of Queen fame). There is also Farzi with Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K, which we should start by the end of this year. But right now, all my energies are focused on Haider, which I feel is the one of the most important films of my career.

-- By Priya Adivarekar --


  1. Beautifully written love the interview
    Words truly echoed by every Shanatic who's seen him grow over the years.. ❤️☺️

  2. Amazing interview! Enjoyed reading it...


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Priya Adivarekar

Priya Adivarekar - Founder and Creative Director at Diary of a Dancebee. She is also a renowned Voice Actress and award winning artiste, with serious passion for dance. When not working round the clock, she can be seen reading, enjoying a movie-binge or listening to music.
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