He has been part of Bollywood for 13 years, but Shahid Kapoor feels that it is now that he has “found some sort of balance” in his life and career. As the 35-year-old basks in the success of his new film, and is preparing to be a father, he talks about getting his priorities right, how his time has come, and more.
Are you at peace with your career and your life?
It’s the craziest time of my life. Too much is happening; I don’t have a choice, but to peace out. With more work and more experience, you can understand that yeh sab chalte rehne wala hai (ups and downs will continue to take place); isko itna seriously nehi lene ka (one should not take this seriously). So, I don’t take my success and failure to my heart anymore. I accept them as a reality, and function according to the pros and cons of the situation.
After Haider (2014), and now your new film, do you feel people’s expectations from you have become high?
More than anything, it’s my journey with myself. I remember, I was angry with myself after the release of Jab We Met (2007) and Kaminey (2009) for not making better choices. It happens very rarely when you feel that your career is on the cusp of something big.
I always used to wonder, “Would I get another opportunity, when people would see the same potential in me, they saw after Kaminey?” For three-four years in the middle, things got scattered. But today, I feel people are giving me that opportunity again. I feel it when I meet my team, family, friends and even my fans. I think I have found some kind of a balance.
My new film is very important in my career because it’s not okay to give just one good performance. You have to prove yourself over and over again. Even when I meet my fans, there is something in their eyes, which is appreciative. I also feel vindicated because there are many things that have to go right for you to be where they are today. I feel thankful and grateful to be appreciated like this again because when you don’t get that, it’s painful.
So are you saying after Kaminey you make wrong choices, or that good offers didn’t come your way?
If you do Dil Bole Hadippa (2009) after Kaminey, it is suicidal, right? So, I made some really bad choices.
Do you blame yourself?
At this stage of your career, what makes you take risks instead of playing safe?
I think that the time of being afraid is over. I don’t feel afraid anymore because I have seen many failures. There have been times when I have let go of everything, and only followed my instinct as an actor. So, today, I don’t feel fearful of attempting something different. In fact, I feel fearful of attempting something very similar [to what I have done in the past].
At 35, at a stage that I am in, I should have been here at 30. So I feel, the need to run faster, try harder and perform better. There are people in the industry, who are younger than me, but they have made some really good choices. Then there are people, who are older than me. So, I feel I am somewhere in the middle, and it’s very important for me to be on top of my game right now.
I really need to outdo myself to do justice to the opportunities I’m getting. After my new film, I feel even hungrier because I don’t think I got the best opportunities in the past decade. The best films didn’t come to me. The best film-maker in the country didn’t come to me. I am still waiting for them. My new film makes me believe that it’s possible.
Initially, you were known for your boy-next-door roles. Now you experiment a lot with your characters. What are you more comfortable with?
I think I can do everything. At 50, maybe I’ll give up thinking, “Yeh cheez nahi karni chahiye (I shouldn’t do this).” Till then, I’ll keep trying. I wouldn’t have tried to be an actor, if somewhere I didn’t believe that I can act, I can dance well, my looks are okay, and girls would like to hit on me. Yeh sab cheez complete hona chaiye, toh hi actor banne ka (one needs to have all these things, only then you can become an actor). If something is not appealing to me, I won’t do it. At the same time, it would be too much of a thing to say, “Now, I only want to do intelligent cinema.” I would still love to do all kinds of films.
You will complete a year of marriage in July. Has anything changed?
At the face of it, nothing changes. But as I complete a year of marriage, I am getting this doubt that it actually changes everything (laughs). I am just trying to figure out, how. The situation is like that of a patient who doesn’t know what has happened to him.
But jokes apart, marriage does change something deep inside you, for the better. I think marriage gives you roots, so even if you fly, you don’t fly too high. It helps you understand your priority. Your priority is your work, and your home. Everything else comes in only if there’s time.
It also means you have someone to keep you grounded?
There is someone to tell you and make you feel that there are other things that are more important, such as family and your loved ones. Sometimes, you need to be reminded of that. I feel when you think like that, it gives you a lot of stability.
You will be a father soon.
It will be tough to leave home for a few months (smiles), as the first year of having a baby is the cutest. So, it would be difficult to leave the baby.
Will you be a good father?
We will discover that. That’s the fun of it, to find out things as they come along.
Are you going to take a paternity leave?
Yes, I will take time off when Mira is going to deliver. I’ll take a month off, at least. It’s important. Baaki sab toh hota rahega (everything else will happen), this is priority.
As an actor, was the entire episode involving the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) frustrating?
Sometimes [in such cases], you go through self-introspection, and are like, “have I done something wrong?” But every time I used to see the film, I found it to be an honest effort. Also, at times, the perception of something can be a lot bigger than reality.
By now, everyone knows the response the film got. So, I think it was more about how it was perceived than how the film actually was. Also, let the people decide, why is anybody deciding for them? People have strong opinions of their own, and they know what to watch and what not to.
Like Kareena Kapoor Khan, do you also feel that it’s high time CBFC goes for an overhaul?
It (what governs CBFC) is an act passed in 1952. Now, we are in 2016. Cinema and art represent the forward-thinking of society, and mirror the evolution of society. So, when a law doesn’t represent the contemporary view of the country, which it’s supposed to do, then how is it relevant?
It was difficult, but I am happy that people from the industry came together for the first time, though I would have loved to see more people support us. Not everybody stepped up, but it was encouraging to see the number of people that came out to support the film. I am grateful to all of them.
In such an insecure industry, does success make you powerful or more insecure?
I hope success and failure doesn’t bring any change to me because then means I won’t be consistent. Success and failure will come and go. For three months, I’ll be successful, and then for a year, I’ll feel depressed. It’s natural for an actor’s life. I have gone through those phases, when your mood is driven by how your films are doing. It’s a dangerous place to be in. I didn’t like it, so I don’t want to be driven by success.
I have worked for 13 years. Ghar hai, shaadi ho gayi hai (today I have a house, I am married), and I think I work well enough to keep getting more work. So, you have to be happy and not allow other things to impact you. You should stay absorbed in your work and those things should take up your time. So, just focus on simple things. If something has to come it will or it won’t.
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