Shahid Kapoor, who has played a variety of characters in his career and has been juggling “tough” roles of late, says it’s probably that time in his life when he has to “do things that are large”.
HT Café catches up with the actor as he prepares for his next film — Padmavati — with Sanjay Leela Bhansali, to talk about life, career, fatherhood, and Kareena Kapoor Khan.
You seem to be taking up only tough roles these days.
When I did Rangoon, which was a tough and intense shoot in typical Vishal Bhardwaj style, I thought, ‘I will now become a dad, and I will do something light and easy, and relax. But then came Padmavati (smiles). I guess it’s that time in my life when I have to do things that are large and are going to demand a lot from me.
But I am happy about doing Udta Punjab, Rangoon and now Padmavati. It’s a massive film and it will be a new and different experience. I am a huge admirer of Sanjay sir and feel happy and fortunate to be collaborating with him on a magnum opus.
Do back-to-back tough roles take a toll on you?
Of course, but I guess that’s what makes you a better actor. The best of the best in the world are used to raising the stakes with every new opportunity — be it athletes, artistes or businesspeople. If you’re being given a challenge with every new opportunity, you know you’re heading in the right direction.
Of course, you might fail, but that’s part of the job. I feel lucky that film-makers of a certain calibre are considering me for their movies. And I am happy to take up the challenges. I don’t have a sense of fear, but there is a sense of excitement or nervousness.
I was one of the most boxed-in actors in the first seven or eight years of my career, as I would only get ‘chocolate boy’ or ‘romantic hero’ roles. I had that angst in me, ‘Ki mujhe chance toh doh’ [give me a chance]. So, I am happy that I am getting that chance today.
There have been rumours about issues between you and Ranveer Singh vis-à-vis Padmavati.
Honestly, I am tired of reading things about Padmavati. I want to go and shoot the film. Let my work do the talking now. Yes, there were some issues, but they’ve all been sorted out. The right team has come together to make this film and everybody is very excited. And there are no personal issues with anybody.
I feel Ranveer is the best guy to play Alauddin Khilji, as it’s a very demanding character. I think Deepika is the best Padmavati that anybody could have thought of. And I really do think I’m a great cast for Rawal Ratan Singh.
I don’t feel the need to give a 100 clarifications because I’m not that kind of a person. I’m looking forward to working with both these actors — they are fantastic and talented. We are one team.
How has fatherhood changed you?
For the first time in my life, I don’t feel like leaving home to go to work (smiles). I used to hate staying at home. If I wasn’t working, I’d be at the gym, watching a movie or be out with friends, because I used to live alone and would feel lonely. Although I liked being on my own, there was too much of it.
Now, I don’t feel like leaving home, and that’s a new feeling for me. I can spend the whole day at home with Misha and Mira, and that in itself is a day well spent. This thought never resonated with my personality before. So that’s a big change for me.
Does fatherhood make you more responsible?
It makes you regret a lot of things you did in the past. I was watching a movie recently, and there was a scene between a father and a son. And earlier, 90 times out of a 100, I would have seen it from the son’s point of view. But for the first time, I started relating to the father’s perspective.
Trust me, it was so new for me. Five minutes into the scene, and I was like, ‘What the hell just happened?’ I was connecting with the father’s point of view. That was a massive change in terms of perspective.
Now, after having a daughter, I think from the point of view of being a parent. Everything changes [after you become a father]. I don’t think like an individual anymore. I’m answerable to my wife and child.
You have also said that you won’t be very protective of Misha.
That’s me lying to myself (laughs). That’s me talking out loud hoping it comes true. When I said that and came back home, Mira said, ‘You know na that you are already overprotective?’
Whenever we meet someone who also has a three or four-month-old baby, I go ahead and say, ‘Misha bhaiya ko hello bolo (laughs) [Misha, say hello to your elder brother]’. So I’m quite crappy like that. Mera abhi se chalu ho gaya hai [I have already started being too protective].
Did you meet Kareena at an event?
Yes, I did bump into her, and it was heartwarming to see her fully pregnant, because I’ve just been through [that experience of] having a baby. I felt happy for her. I asked her when she was due, and she told me it is sometime next month. She also asked about Misha. So, it was very nice.
Are you nervous or excited to work with Bhansali?
It’s a great opportunity. I am excited, nervous and I hope I do what Sanjay sir requires of me. What makes me the happiest is that I am able to rediscover myself as an actor, in terms of the genre and the character. I will be able to offer audiences something different, which was a huge challenge in the first half of my career.
I feel it’s better to take risks today, as it is less risky to take chances than to repeat yourself. So, I am happy that I am able to jump from one space into another or one world into another one.
Watch Chitta Ve | Udta Punjab
Whether it is Udta Punjab, Rangoon or Padmavati, you don’t seem to have any problems with multi-starrers…
If Leonardo DiCaprio was worried about a Matt Damon or other stellar characters in The Departed (2006), including Jack Nicholson, and had given into his own insecurities, he would have reduced the cinematic potential of the film.
If Tom Hardy was to worry about his role in The Revenant (2015), he would have lost out on the opportunity of featuring in one of the most revered films of that year. I have seen this happening to many actors over the years. But, I have seen enough of success and failure to know what works.
What works is being successful, and being part of relevant cinema. Everything else that we eccentric people create in our own heads, while sitting at home, pull us down.
You are working with top actors such as Kangana Ranaut and Deepika Padukone. Does working with talented actors help you?
Absolutely, it’s always great to work with people who are at the top of their game. Being their co-star is exciting and challenging at the same time. I am looking forward to working with Kangana and Saif Ali Khan too. It’s an exciting film. I am also going to work with Deepika for the first time, so it’s going to be awesome.
We have heard that Mira also gives her opinion on scripts.
Mira and I talk about everything. Whenever she chooses to give her opinion, they are important to me. She is a bright girl and has a fresh point of view towards things. It’s always good to have another person’s point of view.
The film fraternity has a certain way of looking at things, and then there are common people, who have a different way of looking at movies. Her point of view is more than welcome.