It’s 6 pm in Mumbai and you know what that means. Traffic signals: green, amber, blood-curdlingly red. Two hours subtracted from my life, but what the hell, I have to meet him. Why have to? Just. I like doing interviews, mauja mauja. It doesn’t matter if the interviewee is old enough to be my son: Shahid Kapur, in case I’d married as a teenager. But what do you care about the tremors of a laptop Lalloo? My 26-year-old subject is the key to this Sunday morning read. So, here I am in a coffee shop – the oddly named BBC – with Shahid Kapur, Sikander Kher , a lovely little lady and aman built smaller than I am.
He responds with a loopy grin, can’t read his eyes, I’m getting horrible at interviews. There was a time when I could read a thousand words into a passing gaze from Aamir Khan. I could interpret Salman Khan’s sneezes and I could decode the high fundas of Bachchan (Sr not Jr). <b1>
With Shahid Kapur, I’m struggling. If I ask him about his private life, he’ll think I’m a dirty old gossipbaaz. If I ask him about the movies, I’m not sure whether he’s into Rumanian cinema, which I’m absolutely nutzoid about right now. Mission Impasse. What do I do what do I do, my words are stuck to one another, this is a crisis. Girding up my lines-‘n’-loins, I discard the duty routine, order myself the biggest chicken sandwich this side of a poultry farm. And hello, he doesn’t object. Rumour hath it that he doesn’t allow anyone to eat non-veg. Mercifully, he’s quite Zen about my murghi dare. Indeed, when at this BBC Café, just do as the BBCians do, go for that Q and A. Let’s see what happens. So, I try that ancient-as-Mohenjodaro technique to warm up:
Which question would you me like not ask (grin, grin, grin)?
Any question about my personal life.. like who I’m dating.
So whom are you dating? Sania Mirza, Vidya Balan, Amrita Rao..who? who?
I feel claustrophobic when I’m asked this. It’s best to take a stand and not talk about such things.
Are you surprised that you’re asked such questions?
I guess it can’t be helped.. when a relationship breaks after four-and-a-half years.. when you’re single again.
Were you frazzled after your break-up with Kareena Kapoor?
I did feel upset at first. We were seeing each other for long.. but I’ve calmed down. I’ve returned to status quo.
When that MMS scandal story broke, didn’t that upset you too?
I didn’t let it. See, I’m all together now. I might not have been if Jab We Met hadn’t been a success. I’ve plonked myself into work. (Yells out to a waiter) Arre, idhar cigarette pee sakta hoon? ( We’re shifted to a smoking zone. I don’t like kids puffing into my face.. not good formy skin-longevity).
Why are you smoking kid?
Oh, I was stressed out. I’d started smoking four years ago for Milenge Milenge in which I was a chain-smoker. I gave it up, I started again, I’ll give it up again.
Good good. Ever felt down.. er.. suicidal like in Jab We Met?
No, no, no! I never hyper-react. There’s no dark side in my life, maybe there are grey areas.
Tell me about the greyest.
When I shifted from Delhi to Mumbai. The other school kids in the fifth standard didn’t accept me.. I felt like an outsider.
Did you finish college?
Would you like another sandwich.. tea.. paneer puff ?
No, no. College, college.. we were talking about.
I left after the third year in Mithibai College. I was studying psychology-sociology. I assisted dad (Pankaj Kapur) on his TV serials. I attended an acting workshop by Naseer uncle..
Were you affected by the divorce of your parents?
No, because of the care and concern of my grandparents. My mum (Neelima Azim) and I lived with them in Delhi’s Press Enclave. My nana Anwar Azim, was the editor of Sputnik brought out by Urdu Blitz. <b2>
(Abruptly) Okay, so when did you first meet Bebo?
Huh? It was at the screening of her film Mujhe Kuch Kehna Hai at the Fame multiplex.. no, no, it was actually at this hotel (JW Marriott). I met her at this very coffee shop. We chatted, we kept meeting.
What were the common things between you two?
Did you make Bebo attend satsangs.. turn to spiritualism?
(Irritated) I wouldn’t make her or anyone do anything. I’ve no right to impose anything on anyone.. there are no rules.. no set rules.
Didn’t you prevent Bebo from even having an occasional glass of wine?
(Irritated) Why would I prevent my girlfriend..or any friend..from drinking? I’m not here to govern any person. If there was a change in Bebo, it has to be seen from her perspective and choices.. there are no rules.
When was the last time you met Bebo?
In Toronto. I continue to feel fondly about her, I wish her happiness.
Didn’t Bebo end up stealing the show from you in Jab We Met?
That’s a matter of opinion, of perspective. I think she was fantastic.
On a scale of five, how would you rate her performance?
Four-point-five too. See, Bebo was the extrovert. She had all the lines. I had to be the more retentive, subdued character which is harder to play.
She’s winning all the awards.. aren’t you feeling left out?
She’s winning the awards deservedly. My competition happens to be Shah Rukh Khan in Chak De! India. Relatively, she has lesser competition.
Okay, what’s with these Vidya Balan stories?
We get along, we’re not dating.
Strange! I’ve known her for four years and the rumours start now. (Lighting up another cigarette)
Love doesn’t happen frequently.. there are no set rules. <b4>
How many times have you been in love?
I’ve been in love twice. But from another perspective, I would say not even once. Love is for keeps, isn’t it?
Ever think a patch-up could be possible with Bebo?
I don’t think about such hypothetical situations. Can I please leave it at that?
Bebo has gone on record to say that it didn’t take much time for you to start dating after the break-up.
(Smiles for the longest time) More tea?
No, no, just an answer.
You know Bebo, she loves talking.
Finally, tell me do you ever cry?
It would be weird for a guy not to cry. Last month, I cried a lot. Why have I ended up talking about what I didn’t want to?
Because there are no set rules.