Shahid Kapoor defends Kabir Singh, says audience has shown ‘maturity by appreciating, acknowledging and backing such parts’

Actor Shahid Kapoor’s Kabir Singh has drawn sharp reactions from different quarters. Defending his film, the actor said that it is work of fiction and audience could choose to like or dislike it.
Kabir Singh stars Shahid Kapoor and Kiara Advani in lead roles.
Kabir Singh stars Shahid Kapoor and Kiara Advani in lead roles.
Updated on Jul 08, 2019 01:17 PM IST
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Just saying that actor Shahid Kapoor is on a roll may well be an understatement of sorts. After all, Shahid Kapoor starrer, Kabir Singh, has sent trade pundits into a tizzy. As the film crosses the 230-crore mark at the box office, the actor is enjoying all the love and attention that his film is getting. “I have been doing this for 15 years but this is something so phenomenal that I am still absorbing it,” says Shahid, even as he enjoys his “unemployed” status. “I am at a place [in my career] where I am happy to take my time. So, as much as I am dying to go on sets, I am not going to do it for the wrong reasons,” says the actor. Excerpts from an interview:

To start with, what’s the feeling like after delivering a blockbuster?

The last two weeks have been like a roller-coaster ride. We were all very confident and hopeful about our product but I think the magic of films is that they come alive on Fridays and build their own destinies. So, regardless of what we all feel about our contribution and participation in the journey, the film is writing its own narrative. Right now, I am very overwhelmed and thankful. And there’s no better feeling than getting love for a film, and a character which is extremely flawed and probably one of the most dangerous characters to play for an actor since he is nothing like me. He isn’t necessarily a character who you would love. But it goes on to show the audience’s maturity and the fact that the film has touched a chord with the audience.

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Clearly, Kabir Singh is nothing like you. But as an actor, when you take up such a tough part, how much do you have to identify with it?

My job, as an actor, is to portray a character. And it’s the audience’s discretion to like or dislike him, for all his good or bad. I never play myself in movies. Everybody knows who I am – a vegetarian, who doesn’t drink, is married and have kids. People usually see me in that capacity and that’s what they appreciate too. I think, in this generation, we all actors are trying to play characters that may have nothing to do with us and might not necessarily be likeable or loveable. And the audience is showing great maturity by appreciating, acknowledging and backing such parts. They know what to take away from a film, and are seeing things in context that it’s fiction, a film work, which is an ‘adult film’ for adults, who have the basic discretion of understanding that if they like something, it doesn’t have to be something they agree with. They can just be appreciative for the quality of work that it is.

Before the film’s release, the chatter in trade world was that Kabir Singh is a ‘critical’ film for your career. Are you happy that now, there’s a full stop to such talks?

Kabir Singh has been directed by Sandeep Vanga.
Kabir Singh has been directed by Sandeep Vanga.

If I had to put it in cricketing terms, I would say, that I am the kind of person, who likes his bat to do the talking (laughs). So, I keep it simple. I don’t listen to the noise around me, and focus on my work. It’s not new for me, as I have been doing the same thing for the last 15 years. I have given everything my best shot including Kabir Singh. I am going to continue working like this and nothing is going to change. See, hits and flops are part of life. I feel you have to be process oriented and nor result-oriented in life. Result is the outcome of the process so the focus has to be on the process.

A few days back, you called yourself ‘unemployed’…

Even before Kabir Singh [released], I heard 50-60 scripts and I am still getting narrations. But I want to do something when I am really excited about it. I am a family man now, l have children and my wife. So, the time I spend with them is very precious to me so if I go away from them, it has to be for something worthy of that time. And on another note, I have been working for 15 years, so I need to feel excited and challenged to give something my best shot. So something has to make me feel that way when I hear it. And the minute that happens, I will sign that film.

What was your wife, Mira’s reaction?

She was always very optimistic and believed that this is a character I should have in my filmography. We had watched Arjun Reddy together and she loved the director’s [Sandeep Reddy Vanga] work and felt that the character had potential. And if we were able to get it right, it’d be a very special character in my life. So, Mira was very happy when she watched the film.

You are a much-loved, popular film star with a strong fan base. So, were you worried about saying yes to such a ‘flawed’ character?

I feel that’s an illusion within the minds of people in the fraternity, which I have never believed in. When we talk about great cinema and great acting, we talk about Mr [Amitabh] Bachchan playing the angry, young man which was a flawed character. And we also talk about classics like Devdas whose characters are extremely complex and quite flawed. Then, there are talks about Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street, Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver and Al Pacino in Scarface. So, the greatest performances have come from films which reflect life without being careful or apologetic about it.

Kabir Singh plays a resident doctor with major anger management issues.
Kabir Singh plays a resident doctor with major anger management issues.

So, you were clear about your choice?

See, I have always been clear in my head that the audience knows who I am in real life as they see him in a personal capacity, thanks to all the access and exposure today. People see you stepping out of your house, gym and airport. And then are Instagram and Facebook etc. where we post personal pictures with our family and children. So, everyone understands that this is the real person and then there’s life of an actor or a star.

The trade world is clearly surprised with Kabir Singh’s numbers. What were your expectations?

I feel at the end of the day, it is only love that can take a film to that kind of numbers. And honestly, nobody can ever know the intensity of how much a film will be loved or disliked. We were confident, happy and very optimistic about the product that we made. So, we felt that it has the potential to do really well but it has gone to some other level (smiles). The footfalls of the film are beyond expectations. Plus, it had a non-holiday release with normal ticket prices and also, it’s an adult film. So, it has changed so many notions that we have in our head and that’s the power of cinema. There are no rules to the game. A potent product will always surprise with its performance.

As an actor, can you put your finger on what exactly people identified with, which is resulting in such numbers?

Yes, I can. The first thing I feel is that the film is very raw. And we’re not used to seeing raw characters in love stories. The problem with the genre of love stories is that they are so candyfloss that you don’t feel like they reflect life. I think Kabir Singh has the ability to be raw, unapologetic and real. It showed things as they can happen or do happen. Also, I feel the love story, emotional scenes and the arc of the characters made impact with the audiences. I may be wrong but that’s what I can understand.

What’s next? Have you signed a new film?

There are lot of talks but everything is at a preliminary stage. And as soon as I know what I am doing next, I will make an official announcement. There’s nothing that I have signed as of now. Just because I am being offered many films doesn’t mean I will sign 10 of them. I am not that kind of a person. The minute if feel excited about something, I’ll the first person to be on a set as I am quite a workaholic. But over the years, I have learnt that only your choices make you who you are, in terms of how people see you, the kind of star or actor you become and the relevance that you have. It’s not just your talent and hard-work. It’s also very driven by choices that you make. I am sure I will go wrong again. But at least, I am trying to make the right choices.

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Monday, December 06, 2021