Janhvi Kapoor plays the titular role in Roohi.
Janhvi Kapoor plays the titular role in Roohi.

Janhvi Kapoor on why she can't watch mother Sridevi's Chaalbaaz: 'They were very mean to her'

  • Ahead of the release of Roohi, Janhvi Kapoor talked about why she did not use her mother Sridevi's ChaalBaaz as a reference point, facing criticism from a young age and her upcoming projects.
By Samrudhi Ghosh
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 07:28 AM IST

With Roohi, actor Janhvi Kapoor explores two ‘extremes of humanity’ in the same film, and that was the reason she was drawn to it. “It was so exciting to do it and I really thought it would open me up and be very liberating as an actor. I felt like I would hopefully grow a lot from the experience and add something to it as well. I hope that I have done that,” she told Hindustan Times.

Janhvi described Afza as a character with a ‘very animalistic, inhumane energy’, while Roohi is ‘vulnerable, fragile and docile’. Her mother, late actor Sridevi, pulled off diverse roles in films such as ChaalBaaz but she made a conscious effort not to use them as a reference point.

“There was no real reference point for Afza’s character, and I was trying to be conscious about not mimicking anyone. I don’t think anyone in the world can match up to the level of work that my mother has put out. I would honestly always have a hard time watching ChaalBaaz because they were very mean to her in the film. As a kid, I was very traumatised every time I tried to watch that film,” she said.

For Afza, Janhvi watched The Exorcism of Emily Rose and other horror films. “But that was just to get the tonality, what I can possibly do with my body, what it is like to be in this kind of zone and project that kind of energy,” she said. “For Roohi, the writers and I decided that it would be cool if she has a kind of stutter every time she is scared, so I saw a lot of videos and films on that.”

Janhvi, who has earlier confessed to stalking her Roohi co-star Rajkummar Rao on social media, considers herself ‘extremely fortunate’ to be sharing screen space with him. “Even Pankaj (Tripathi) sir, for that matter. Honestly, it was on my list of things that I really wanted to do, because I have seen their films and been so fond of their work. It was great to see how passionate… In fact, even Varun (Sharma) and everyone in this film were all more experienced than me, especially in comedy. So to watch the experts at work was definitely an experience I will always cherish,” she said.

With Roohi being the first big film to release after theatres began operating at full capacity, Janhvi is ‘definitely nervous and anxious’. She added, however, “I believe in my film. I believe that we have worked hard and made something that we can all be proud of and put in good work.”

Roohi is meant for a theatrical release instead of an OTT one, feels Janhvi. “It is a community viewing experience. It is a film that will be better visually on a big screen than it will be on a phone screen or a TV screen. I really hope the audiences take the necessary precautions, go to the theatres and watch this film, and give it as much love as we have put in into making the film. One can only hope, so I am trying to stay positive,” she said.

Janhvi, who faces criticism on a regular basis for being a ‘star kid’, said that she has grown up dealing with it. “If I would get full grades on my history project or my literature paper, all the students would be like, ‘Oh, it is because your parents are famous, that is why the teachers are sucking up to you.’ They would always kind of dismiss my work because of, I guess, a form of nepotism. Subliminally, it has been something that has always been weighing on my mind since I was a kid,” she said.

“Of course, it has definitely scaled up since I joined the industry. But having said that, I completely understand what everyone talks about. I genuinely can’t deny that I am privileged. What am I supposed to say? That I deserve this opportunity because I was born into this family? People aren’t obligated to love me because my parents worked their whole lives, proved themselves and earned that love. But I don’t think it means that they need to hate me either,” she added.

Janhvi admitted that there is a ‘discrepancy and inequality in terms of opportunity’ but all she can do is not take her privilege for granted. “The only thing I can do is work doubly hard and push myself that much more to justify the privilege that I have. I don’t want to give up on the privilege, I can’t pass on the opportunity because I love what I do. But I need to give them a reason to love me and I understand that. I am glad that they are not going easy on me, they have no reason to. They probably know ten other people who they think are more talented than me, who might not get the opportunities that I get. So I need to recognise that and I need to prove to them that I am worthy of it, which I will,” she said.

Also read: Alia Bhatt turns bride for ad, fans joke ‘Ranbir Kapoor wants to know that man's location’

On being asked for an update on Karan Johar’s ambitious period drama Takht, Janhvi confirmed that it is ‘not shelved’ but said that she did not know any additional details. “Honestly, I am the wrong person to ask. I think Karan said that it is delayed and not shelved, so that is what it is. That is as much as I know as well,” she said.

After wrapping up the promotions of Roohi, Janhvi will soon jump back into the shoot of Dostana 2, in which she stars alongside Kartik Aaryan. “It has been fun. We shot for about 25 days. Over a year ago, actually, and I really enjoyed it. I am looking forward to getting back on set. It has been a good experience working with Kartik. Like I said, it is a fun film, and he does humour and comedy extremely well,” she said.

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