We should treat viewers as adults: Shahid on Udta Punjab row
As his new film finds itself in the censors’ web, Shahid Kapoor feels audiences are “ready to watch any content”; the actor is excited about becoming a dad.bollywood Updated: Jun 07, 2016 17:39 IST
It’s 1pm in the afternoon, and the happily married (and soon-to-be father) Shahid Kapoor is getting ready to meet his wife, Mira Kapoor, for a lunch date at their plush Juhu abode. “Emotionally and mentally, I am very settled now,” says the actor, who looks completely in sync with his Zen-like offscreen avatar, as he opens up about his life and career, his new film co-starring Alia Bhatt, and impending fatherhood.
Your new film has been embroiled in a controversy with the censor board for many days now. What’s your take on the situation?
I am the same guy who did Haider (2014), and when that film released, I was proud [of the censor board]. I felt it was a very evolved decision for the censor board to let a film like Haider come out. The best thing is that it was loved [by the audiences]. It’s probably the most credible film of my career, and I think it’s very clear that the audience is ready to see [any] content. So, I think we should treat audiences like adults, who know what they want to watch. Beyond a point, let’s not decide what they should watch for them.
Watch: Shahid Kapoor in a song from Udta Punjab
This year, you also complete 13 years in the Hindi film industry. How do you look back at your career?
The first seven-eight years are very hazy. I think during that phase main tukke maar raha tha (I was taking my chances) as I didn’t know how wrong things could go. It was like walking blindfolded on a tightrope without realising how deep the trenches were on both sides. In the last three-four years, I have become more aware, and therefore, I have been taking decisions that are coming not from a place of ignorance.
Your initial decisions, when it came to choosing films, were ignorant ones?
Yes. But I didn’t know any better. I was trying to figure things out. Now when I look back, I feel I was quite stupid. But it’s a learning process. When I started, my dad (Pankaj Kapur), as always, was like a saint, and my mom was doing her own thing. I didn’t know anyone in the industry, and I didn’t understand anything. But with experience, I guess you understand how it works better.
Watch: Shahid Kapoor started his career with music videos
You have been making brilliant and successful film choices of late...
I would have loved to do [the kind of roles I am doing now] earlier too. But there are two things: first, I don’t think anyone had the confidence to offer me such parts. And second, I don’t think I had enough confidence to make people feel that I am ready to do all kinds of parts. In the last two-three years, I have reached that place. It started off with Kaminey (2009), and since the past three-four years, I have not been scared to try out new things. So, the opportunities coming my way also have a wider palate.
You seem very mature now.
I feel one should decide how one wants to lead his or her life. So, have the courage to face the consequences [of the decisions you have taken]. Don’t chase success, or do what everyone else is doing, because you will lose yourself. When you truly become comfortable and find yourself, everything will fall into place. I have seen that happen with a lot of people; so be who you are.
You are also going to become a father soon.
It’s a completely different kind of feeling. Responsible is just one world; there are just too many things [that I am feeling right now]. One can only understand this [emotion] when one experiences it. It can’t be explained in words. And I haven’t even become a father yet. I just know that soon, I will be.
Do you think being a father will bring with it a completely different set of responsibilities?
I am feeling good [about it]. I never had lack a of responsibilities, but this is a different one. I think every man learns how to be a father when he becomes one; you can’t teach that to anyone. I will also learn; it’s time to learn again in life, learn something absolutely new.
You complete a year of marriage in July...
It feels like that I took the right step. I also feel very satisfied, and that I have become domesticated (laughs).
After Haider, you took up your upcoming film and Rangoon. Aren’t you tired?
Very much! Please ask someone to offer me a lighter film. I am sapped of all my energy. I need to feed myself with some light-hearted roles (laughs). I need to come back from the world [of serious roles]. The last three years have been really demanding.
Watch: Shahid Kapoor in Haider trailer
When it comes to your next movie, aren’t you afraid about how people will take it?
There’s a time in your career when you are unsure [about your film choices]. But I have reached a point where people are open to see me in different spaces. After seeing them react to Haider and my new film, I know that people appreciate that I am doing diverse kinds of roles. Every actor has a different journey. People want to see some actors do the same thing; they enjoy that. Whenever I try something different, the audience applauds that, and that gives me confidence to keep going at it.
Do you ever think about setting up projects, or multiple crore clubs?
I don’t think much about such things. If you do that, you don’t concentrate on the main thing – your craft. If it’s a good, exciting film, one should do it. A movie’s success is not in our control anyway. If you go by the content [that has come out of the industry] in the last three-four years, you can see that the audience is open to newer stuff. After all, what’s so commercial about Piku (2015)? We all have to evolve. No one can truly know what a ‘commercial’ film is. It’s safer to do new, exciting films than putting old wine in an older bottle.
Watch: Shahid, Alia, Kareena, Diljit in Udta Punjab trailer
But many in the industry set up such ‘projects’…
God bless them, and all the best to them if they know how to get there. I just want to do good films, and I have seen some of the most successful people do good content, whether it’s Mr Bachchan, Dilip saab (Dilip Kumar) or even Leonardo DiCaprio. See the choices Leonardo makes, and the kinds of films he turns down. He is just backing his conviction. If good things have to happen, they will.
Your new film shows you as a drug addict and cussing on screen. Were you scared about doing such a role?
The beauty of cinema is that it shows you the human side of all kinds of people. Some of the most celebrated international celebrities have played similar characters like the one I essay in this film. Also, when you walk out of theatre after watching my new movie, you will say, “It’s not cool to be like him.” So, there’s a journey of redemption. An actor’s job is to portray different people, who belong to different milieus, and have different issues. I feel there’s no black or white; there are different shades of grey. Matthew McConaughey couldn’t have turned down Dallas Buyers Club (2013) saying he didn’t want to play an AIDS patient. And it’s a huge compliment to India if films like Haider, Rang De Basanti (2006) and Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006) were able to release, and did so well.
Shahid Kapoor on wanting to do more films
I want to do more films; it’s my age and time to do as much work as I can. I have finished two movies, and I am hopefully going to start another one by the end of this year. I can’t say if I have become choosier, but I want to get excited to do more and more films. I want to do all kinds of films. I don’t want to go slow; I love to go fast (smiles).
Shahid Kapoor on his brother, Ishan Khattar’s film debut:
I will be very happy when Ishaan (Khattar; brother) makes his acting debut. I gave 100 auditions to get a break, and I know how difficult it is to get one. Whenever he starts off his career, I will be very excited. Seriously speaking, he is the one giving me tips; it’s not the other way around. But he has seen my 12-year journey in Bollywood. So, for him, things will be very different as he has already had a lot of exposure. He knows how things are. My journey was very different from his.
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