Just like free-flowing bubbly, Shahid Kapoor’s fresh avatar is sweet and all over the place. A sense of inner freedom is what he says his new mantra is. At 32, after effectively leaving his mark on the minds of not just audiences but also film-makers, Shahid is raising the bar for bigger expectations now.
It’s clearly his time… either to make it or break it. The talk of the debacle of his last film, Mausam (2011), is a thing of the past now, so are the other shackles that were binding him once. As he gets set to hit the marquee with Rajkumar Santoshi’s Phata Poster Nikhla Hero (PPNH), followed by Prabhudheva’s Rambo Rajkumar, Shahid says, "I’ve just pushed it all out. I wanted to get on the sets and have fun, because for six months I was at home getting fried."
Looks like you’re set for a big return. Do you feel that the good times are coming back?
I’ve not gone anywhere and I’m not going anywhere. I’m returning after a year and ek saal ke baad aaneka toh poster phaadke aaneka (if you’re making a comeback after a year, it should be grand). I mean it’s different, it’s new, it’s fresh, it’s a new version of me, and I’m excited about all those things. I was supposed to do Shuddh Desi Romance. But it kept getting delayed and I couldn’t do it. But now, when I look back, I feel that I’m happy that it got delayed and that PPNH is my next release.
Coming back to your second question, when the time is right, every decision is right and when the time is wrong, every decision goes wrong. You have to allow yourself to come out of that bad time and admit, haan galti ho gayi, aur try karenge. Kaun flop film nahi deta hain? (yes I made a mistake but I’ll try harder. Who doesn’t have films that have flopped?) I’ve made mistakes and I must correct them. If you become negative, pessimistic and start blaming everyone else around, then you are inviting disaster.
So you’re finally getting your grip after the last few years which haven’t been good for you?
I feel liberated more than anything. It’s not just about doing a film like this, but just the way I’ve been while doing this film. I’ve let the director take full control of me. That’s something I didn’t do in the past. I think I was quite opinionated even with the filmmakers. When I look back (I feel that) was absolutely needless. I’m an actor and I should be just doing that. And when this thought dawned on me, I really enjoyed it because it sets you free and you can perform with ease.
You have talent and looks, yet you have been the most underrated star/actor. Why do you think that is?
I think I was limited in my thoughts and always worked within a comfort zone. I did a Kaminey (2009) which was way out of my comfort zone, but probably that was the only film I did with an uncertain confidence. So I think I have finally reached that point where I am letting go and not trying to plan and think and control things. Because of this, I think filmmakers are able to make different movies with me. And I’m now giving people the freedom to work the way they want to.
The general perception is that you squandered your talent because of your philandering ways.
No, I don’t agree with that. I think it’s a random interpretation. I don’t think my personal life has anything to do with my professional life. In fact, when I was in my most stable relationship (dating Kareena Kapoor), I had many unsuccessful films. My most successful film Jab We Met (2007) came when Kareena and I had broken up. I can only see it from a practical point of view and I feel that some choices didn’t work for me. Sometimes I made choices like doing a Vivah (2006) or a Jab We Met or a Kaminey, which were all three risks in their own ways. One of them was with Sooraj ji (Barjatya), when a lot of people felt that this kind of cinema was not relevant after Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon (2003). I did a film with Imtiaz (Ali) a new director, and I did a commercial film with Vishal sir (Bhardwaj). But all three things worked for me. Then when I did Mausam, I thought I was making a great decision and it was potentially a great decision if it would have turned out to be a great film. But it doesn’t mean that I will change the way I think or the way I work. There were reports that you and Kareena Kapoor Khan bumped into each other at an awards function. Was that awkward?
The last time I met Kareena was three years ago during the rehearsals of some awards function. It was in the lobby of Yash Raj Studios and we spoke for about five minutes.
Ever since your break-up, you haven’t been in a serious relationship.
That’s what you think. I have been single only for the last two years.
Apparently you’re not on talking terms with Priyanka Chopra despite residing in the same building. Given a choice, would you work with her again?
I don’t know who says all this. I have no issues with her at all. She’s a fantastic actor and of course, I want to work with her.
How did you fall in love with movies?
During my school and college days, the three Khans — Aamir, Salman and Shah Rukh — were superstars for me; and will always be. Their movies were eagerly awaited every Friday. I remember watching Lagaan (2001) at Chandan Cinema. I watched Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin (1991), Rangeela (1995), Diwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999) and Judwaa (1997) in the capacity of a movie buff. These are the films and stars that made me fall in love with movies.
We’ve heard that you want to date a regular girl.
Yes, someone who is not necessarily an actor or from the industry. Someone who’ll bring some normalcy into my life and help me stay in touch with reality. That is something I’m curious about. There are so many actors who are married to people from non-film backgrounds and their marriages are successful. I’m tired of dating actresses. My father is extremely concerned about me and every time he meets me, he says, ‘Beta shaadi kab kar rahe ho’ (Son, when are you getting married?), and I say ‘Dad, let’s not have this conversation’. You’d worked with Salman in Phata Poster Nikla Hero (PPNH). How was it?
I’m playing a desperate Salman fan in the film. We didn’t get much time together as we shot for a short period. Since the light was fading, we shot for two and a half hours. But it’s a really funny scene and he was nice. I experienced how fans react when they see actors. It was fun playing that kind of a character. In that particular shot, I’m shouting ‘bhai, bhai, bhai’ throughout the sequence. It was quite funny.
Are you a Salman fan in real life as well?
Anybody in the country, who says he is not a Salman fan, is lying. I’m a huge Sallu fan; I‘m actually a fan of all the three Khans (Aamir, Shah Rukh and Salman). The most memorable films in last 20 years feature them.
What’s your most memorable fanboy moment?
It was with Sachin Tendulkar about two years ago. When I was shooting for Mausam (2011), there was a match at Mohali and I didn’t know about it. Sachin and I were staying at the same hotel. When I got in the lift with my bodyguard, it stopped at the second floor and Sachin walked in with a bat in his hand and headphones on. He was looking down and was in his own space. I just froze. For the first time, I didn’t know what to say. When he got out on the ground floor, his bodyguard whispered to him and he turned around and said ‘Hi Shahid, how are you? I didn’t see you in the lift’. And I replied, ‘Hi sir, I am a really big fan and am glad to meet you’. I actually did that. He just smiled and walked away. Now I understand why fans behave the way they do when they meet their idols.
How are Rajkumar Santoshi and Prabhudheva as directors?
Raj ji is an outstanding actor and Prabhu sir is the king of mawaali panti (loafer characteristics). Raj ji will perform the whole scene for you. The expressions in the film are not mine, they are Raj ji’s. In fact, I realised that a lot of expressions that I saw in Andaz Apna Apna (1994) and Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani (2009) were Raj ji’s. So, when I heard the narration, I said, ‘Dude, if I blindly follow whatever he’s doing, then I’m good.’ And that’s also applicable for Prabhu sir. I was his personal robot in Rambo Rajkumar.
For instance, he would ask me to put my left hand up, look at something in a particular manner, smile in some way with my eyes open in some fashion, give a serious expression or say something without any expression at all.
You are the product of a disturbed marriage and broken family. Do you feel that people who are brought up in such a milieu are more vulnerable as compared to others?
That’s a narrow way of thinking and I don’t agree with that. There are two types of people. When you have a troubled life, either you learn to handle it or you tend to fall apart. Now, no matter what background you come from, there is nobody in this world who can say that their life is without troubles. Everybody faces problems at some point in their life. All that matters is how you deal with it. Your character is defined not by what life throws at you, but also by how you deal with it. You need to be strong and handle difficult situations to be a better person. Else, you’ll be a loser.
Is the absence of parents more painful compared to other problems?
I think everyone reacts differently. Anyone who has undergone a loss always understands. It helps you see life in its true form. You learn to value a lot of things. It also scares you slightly to invest in people. You don’t want to feel that pain again. Any kind of loss is painful. Attachment is your biggest strength and your biggest weakness. Though it gives you the power to love someone more than yourself, it becomes difficult to live when you lose something you are attached to. Even when we have lost, we should go beyond that and get truly attached to someone. Loving someone truly is the most beautiful feeling. So, you should not miss out on that. But, you need to be careful.
Today Ranbir Kapoor is looked at as the next big star. But people say that if Shahid Kapoor remains focussed and attitude-free, he’s a strong contender for the slot. Your comments.
Ranbir deserves the tag of being the ‘next big thing’. But, that position also comes with a lot of pressure (laughs). I feel that we’re at a stage right now where you cannot define a definite superstardom. There are different stages to it. This is the stage for the younger generation, artistes who have come in the last few years (actually I’m a little more senior to them) and have not got there yet. We all need to explore our potential and prove ourselves. Jab maine start kiya tha, paanch saal mein ek newcomer aata tha. Film mil gayi toh itni badi baat thi. Abhi toh mahinon mein log launch ho jaate hain (When I had entered the industry, there used to be a newcomer every five years. Getting a film was a big thing. Nowadays, people get launched in months).
So you can see how things are changing. There’s so much opportunity now and I feel fortunate to be part of this time. Ten years ago, when all the reigning superstars were in their prime, it was difficult to crack the market. Now it’s about who goes out there and does it. Anything is possible if you do the right work and exploit your potential correctly.