Audiences and critics can't stop raving about Shahid Kapur's performance in the hit film Kaminey, but the 28-year-old actor says doing the dark thriller was a "litmus test" as his well-wishers felt breaking away from his lover boy image may ruin his career.
"The fact is that mass as well as niche audiences have given a thumbs up to a subject and a genre that were never explored before. This was a very huge film for me and hence a big litmus test as well. It was such a huge risk and my fortune could have swung either way. I'm so happy that it paid off eventually," Shahid told IANS.
Even though he has worked in films across varied genres, the lover boy image seems to have latched on to him, courtesy his recent successes like Jab We Met and Vivah.
"Even when I was on the verge of signing Kaminey, people discouraged me. Since on paper itself it sounded such a different film, I was advised that I should follow a conventional route and do more love stories.
"People felt that I was on a wrong path by signing on something experimental when I should have rather consolidated my image as a lover boy. I am glad I took a firm stand though because I sincerely believe that audiences today want a change," he said.
But Shahid isn't turning his back to romantic films and his next will be Dil Bole Hadippa, in which he has teamed up with Rani Mukerji.
"Now Dil Bole Hadippa is a complete contrast to Kaminey with a lot of 'bhangra-shangra'...See, at the end of the day, I do want to do different kinds of work and find acceptance in all spaces.
"It's just that I'm not willing to restrict myself to a particular genre, especially in times when change is the order of the day. Thankfully, audiences have become much more receptive to you being seen in a different avatar," the actor said.
After the success of Vishal Bharadwaj's Kaminey, Shahid finds himself in the big league of actors, but he has his head firmly on his shoulders.
"I am happy that Kaminey worked for me and I am also aware about the fact that post the success of the film, there are also lot of expectations from me. Still, it's early days for me to begin celebrations.
"There are many more movies that I have to do over a period of time. I have to continuously prove myself. In a couple of weeks from now, I have Dil Bole Hadippa coming out; so I'm keeping my fingers crossed," he said.
While the Khans - Shah Rukh, Aamir, Salman - have been dominating from the top along with Akshay Kumar and Hrithik Roshan, the success of Kaminey means that both Shahid and Saif Ali Khan, who delivered a money spinner in Love Aaj Kal, have also made their mark.
Shahid may not be inside the ring yet but he is knocking the doors at the least.
"Everyone seems to be saying that, but I keep reminding myself that it has only been six years for me in the industry. Of course, I'm extremely happy to be even considered a good enough candidate. For someone who is just 28 years old, I feel very privileged and fortunate to see such confidence from my audiences as well as the industry," he said.