It took Shahid Kapoor two years to comprehend that slow and steady doesn’t always win the race, and about nine months to realise that not working is an unhealthy habit.
He’d always been aware that visibility is synonymous with an actor’s life, but Shahid has a deeper understanding of the concept now. So, wiser than before, he is back on the sets after nine months, shooting for Raj Kumar Santoshi’s Phata Poster Nikla Hero.
"It feels like I was on an extended vacation and now I am back to school," he says. With three big films in hand — Prabhudheva’s Namak, Bejoy Nambiar’s next and Phata Poster…, the 31-year-old actor is back on his feet. Late at night, on the sets of Santoshi’s film, Shahid holds back nothing in an exclusive interview with HT Café.
You’ve been missed. Where did you disappear after Mausam?
It wasn’t a voluntary decision. But yes, there was a time when I should have been doing more work, but I didn’t. So I need to recover that lost time now. And I guess everything has a reason. My dad’s film Mausam took a year and a half to finish, and that started the slow-down. Technically, I lost two years. Everybody knew or presumed that I would not take up any work till Mausam was finished. The only film I signed in between was Teri Meri Kahani.
I finished Teri Meri Kahani and was about to start Maneesh Sharma’s film, when he developed a slipped disc. A series of events
unfortunately followed that and caused further delays. I understand there were technical problems but, honestly, I couldn’t push it any further as I already had three other films lined up. I wasn’t happy opting out of Maneesh’s film. But I’ve always believed that whatever you get is in your destiny and what you don’t get isn’t supposed to be. Maneesh and I parted amicably. Following this, I didn’t shoot for nine months which was very surprising because something like this has never happened before with me.
It’s been five years since your big film Jab We Met released. People still consider that as your best shot…
I know. It’s a strange feeling to look back. However, it wasn’t considered a big film then. It was made by a new director; the lead pair of Kareena and I was not considered hot as our jodi hadn’t worked in earlier films; and most importantly, the film was released in a period that the trade believes is inauspicious — two weeks after Dushhera and two weeks before Diwali. This period is looked upon as the weakest and worst time to release a film. And two big movies, Om Shanti Om and Saawariya (both 2007), were releasing around that time. Fortunately, our film was widely appreciated. I guess every film has its own destiny.
So far you haven’t spoken about what went wrong with Mausam.
The fact that we had just about two months to edit the film which was made over a period of two years, and the fact that the film itself got hugely delayed impacted the product. Had there been a little more time, we would have got more perspective and made corrections. It was a lot of pressure on dad who was making his first film. There was pressure on all of us, including Supriya aunty (Shahid’s stepmother Supriya Pathak), and my kid brothers. Everyone was deeply involved in the film. I was with the family throughout and I had to be their mental strength. I just couldn’t let them down emotionally.
Do you regret that phase a little?
I usually do not regret anything in life, but in hindsight, I wouldn’t want to do that again. I really don’t want to be in that situation again.
‘I am not arrogant, but lovingly detached!’
We’ve heard you’ve cancelled your New Year’s Eve plans.
I am really excited about my work now and there’s an interesting line-up for next year. So yes, I will be working round the clock. There’s no New Year’s Eve or birthday break. I have taken it on myself to make sure that I have the most of myself and just keep working.
How did you spend the last nine months?
I was reading scripts, meeting and interacting with people. I have already heard about six scripts and the three films I am doing now are a result of this. Fortunately, I am working with people I wanted to work with. With these movies, I am moving into a different space too. Thankfully I had the time to line up my priorities. Raj Kumar Santoshi’s film is an out-and-out entertainer, so is Prabhudheva’s Namak, which is complete masala fare. And then there is Bejoy Nambiar’s film which is of a dark, edgy kind. And there’s one more that I am not supposed to talk about now.
I have decided one thing, though. I’ve made a promise to myself that every year I will do three films and have two releases — minimum. People have told me that I am too slow, that I do very few films, and that at this age and stage, I shouldn’t be doing this.
You and Kareena became a hit pair after Jab We Met (2007), and then the two of you split up. But have you ever had an offer of a film with Kareena since then?
Nobody in the last five years has come to me with an offer to work with Kareena. I had never said no to working with her ever before, and why should it be any different now? I would say Jab We Met was Kareena’s finest performance so far. She’s one of the finest actresses we have today. People still remember her as Geet.
Was it after Jab We Met that you fell into a slow phase? Did the break up with Kareena affect you?
No, yaar. So many things happen, including death, but you don’t stop working because of that. In fact I did Kaminey (2009), Dil Bole Hadippa! (2009) and other films after the break up. But I did very few films by choice. I had put all my eggs in one basket. And some of the films that I did were not good choices; that’s how I have to look back now. I have to be pragmatic and honest. So when you put all these things together, it’s not the best scenario and I am looking to correct that.
Certain people in the industry believe you exude a kind of arrogance.
I used to be in my own world and keep to myself all the time, so there may have been a perception about my reserved demeanour that was misconstrued as arrogance. But when people interact with you, then they know the real you.
So how did you control the damage?
People may have found it difficult to approach me and I realised it and have worked on it. I used to be socially shy. Now I have become a social animal. I go out, meet and interact with people. I made an effort and I am really enjoying that phase now. Beyond that, I cannot change who I am. I am a Piscean, and they have a lovingly detached attitude towards life.
Do the reports of your link-ups upset or amuse you?
Initially I was shocked to read them, but gradually I got used to it, so I don’t take it seriously. Sometimes I feel it’s excessive, it makes me uncomfortable. I guess it’s going to keep happening till I get married. Anyway, I don’t care about it, so it doesn’t matter.
Are you single now?
I am not saying anything. Tomorrow when I am walking around with someone or dining with someone, someone will click a picture and it’ll become a headline. So I am not going there at all. I say one thing, and there’s an avalanche of gossip around it. I am
married to my work. That’s what heroines say, right? But yes, I am single and I have been single for the last two years.
So is love a no-no for the new Shahid?
There’s so much happening in my life now that a relationship could be a huge baggage for me unless it’s with the right person who brings out the right side of me. If I find someone who makes me feel amazing and who I can’t stop thinking about, I will run after her and try my best to woo her. Being in love is beautiful. You just have to find someone who can understand you and who you can give time and importance.
How important is money for you?
It is important to be secure, but I always emphasise relationships. I have learnt this over a period of time. Four years ago, perhaps, I wouldn’t have said this.
On Kareena Kapoor
In hindsight, were you too young and immature to handle your relationship with your former girlfriend Kareena?
Absolutely not! I was 16 when I had my first relationship and it lasted for two and a half years. When you are seeing somebody, then obviously it’s a commitment. And if you don’t want to commit, then don’t be in a relationship. Every relationship deserves a certain credibility and respectability. For me, it’s always been like that. If I have fallen for someone, it’s been a long time.
As for what went wrong between me and Kareena, I don’t want to comment on it. Everything happens for a reason; I am in a happy space and wish her all the best.
When I’d interviewed her earlier, Kareena Kapoor had said she’d like to act in Jab We Met 2…
The ball lies in Imtiaz’s court. It would be interesting to revisit Jab We Met, but I don’t know if I can play Aditya Kashayp as I had played him in the original. Nonetheless, it’s a great film, so why not? Everyone associated with that film has gained tremendously. Vishal Bharadwaj cast me in Kaminey because he liked me in Jab We Met. He felt that even though I was mostly quiet in the film, I was still in my character. That was a huge compliment.
On Priyanka Chopra
Was your relationship with Priyanka Chopra a case of love on the rebound?
Ever since my public break-up (read Kareena), I have never spoken about my relationship status. That’s the maximum I am going to say. And since I have said I was single for the last two years, how could I have been seeing anyone?
Shahid’s top women
The women who make him go weak at the knees
“Incredibly beautiful. Perfect lips and beautiful eyes. I have a huge crush on her.”
“This Latin beauty has features that are very Indian. A phenomenal actor.”
“Everyone in the country finds her very desirable and beautiful!”
“She’s coming into her own these days. I really liked her in Cocktail.”
“She was an enchantress in Parineeta (2005). A very positive and charming girl. I did Kismet Konnection (2008) with her. I remember she was very confused about which look to favour as people were very critical of her. Nice to see how she has rediscovered herself.”
I wish I could have…
1 Aamir Khan’s
brilliant mind and phenomenal understanding of his craft, and be the visionary that he is. Hugely inspirational!
2The unconditional love
has from his fans. It is awe inspiring. If your fans love you, they are ready to forgive you. I would die for that.
3 Shah Rukh Khan’s
dignity and class. He’s well spoken, nice, and very cultured. He’s so good to you when he meets you, that you can’t look beyond him. That’s a quality I want to learn from him.
4 Hrithik Roshan’s endless honesty and sincerity. Despite being the best
looking guy and the finest actor in the industry, he still works harder and tries to get better at his work. It’s amazing! He is the only actor who called me up after watching my first film, Isqh Vishk (2003). I was damn happy that movie star Hrithik Roshan called me on my phone. I flaunted it around. I respect him a lot.
5 Pankaj Kapur’s
conviction. He could have been a very rich man, but he chose a middle class life through his work which states sense and sensibility. Sometimes he tells me, ‘Beta I have money in the bank for only one year, but I will still not take up work I don’t like’. He stands by his beliefs fiercely.