‘You must always feel the need to do something different, something new.’
‘I don’t think I should be content.’
Photograph: Kind courtesy Shahid Kapoor/Instagram
Is Shahid Kapoor arrogant?
But after being in the industry for over 16 years, he knows just how to field questions he doesn’t want to answer.
Shahid’s Kabir Singh is a remake of the Telugu hit Arjun Reddy and sees the actor in a very intense role.
“I think grey characters are more exciting,” he tells Patcy N/KhabriBaba.com
You look leaner now.
Yes, I lost too much weight for Kabir Singh. I have not been able to gain that weight back.
You are a teetotaller in real life. How did you play an alcoholic in Kabir Singh?
It’s the most challenging thing, isn’t it?
If you have never done something and you don’t know how it feels to do it, that becomes the biggest challenge. That’s why this role was so challenging for me.
It takes a lot of work to understand and internalise it.
I have seen people (drunk) like that and I have seen how they behave. But that’s just externalising it.
If you want to internalise it, you need to connect with how they are feeling and not what they are doing.
After Kamineyand Udta Punjab, this is your third film with an ‘A’ certificate.
You know the certification before me.
I say this because Arjun Reddy was an adult film.
Arjun Reddy is Arjun Reddy and this is Kabir Singh.
But what is your question?
Will you not alienate a certain section who are your fans?
So you want me to make films for 10 year olds only? Not for adults?
What attracts you to deviant characters?
What attracts the audience to flawed or grey characters?
Why have we loved Mr Bachchan play the angry young man all these years?
Why is Devdas a classic although it has such a complex character?
Why are Robert de Niro and Al Pacino considered the greatest actors in the world?
Why is Maqbool the most memorable film of my father?
Why is Haider one of the greatest films of my career?
Why is Vishal Bhardwaj considered a great film-maker?
Answer those questions for me.
IMAGE: Shahid Kapoor and Kiara Advani in Kabir Singh.
Different actors are attracted to different characters…
You want to see in movies what you cannot see in real life.
I think grey characters are more exciting.
People always want to see things worthwhile on big screen, which is not mundane like life.
Mundane characters are not as exciting.
Characters, which come alive and give you an adrenaline shot, make you feel excited.
The more complex the character, the more you appreciate it.
There are some actors who do method acting…
Toh murderer wale role mein they murder? Thoda zyada lagana? (So do they murder if they are playing murderers? Isn’t it too much?)
Itna toh samajhne ka kaunsa bouncer phek raha hai? Toh duck karne ka. (You must understand if they are throwing a bouncer, then you must duck).
Like Aamir Khan drank alcohol in Raja Hindustani during a scene.
I know… I don’t touch alcohol.
Maybe somebody who drinks it may try it for a scene.
But I don’t do it, it’s not something I am comfortable with.
I don’t want to compare, but it was difficult from a personal point of view.
IMAGE: Shahid with wife Mira and kids Misha and Zain. Photograph: Kind courtesy Mira Rajput/Instagram
How do you get such intense roles out of your system?
My children help me!
I have no choice but to convert in that one hour while travelling in the car.
I definitely don’t want them to experience Kabir Singh.
I had to learn to completely disconnect and go back to normal.
It felt very difficult when I was doing it because I needed to flip constantly, but it was helpful because at home, when you return to a normal atmosphere, it helps you to rejuvenate.
Why did you accept this film?
I loved Arjun Reddy.
It felt so real I could totally connect with it.
The character had great potential for an actor and I was fortunate that it came my way.
I loved the tone of the film-maker.
I felt the film was very raw.
It was real, unapologetic and very exciting.
He did not shy away from emotions like love, angst and depression.
He did not shy away from dark or beautiful moments, so it gave me a complete experience.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the film. It felt like I wanted to take it to the Hindi film audience.
IMAGE: The two versions of Shahid Kapoor in Kabir Singh. Photograph: Kind courtesy Shahid Kapoor/Instagram
What did you have to do to make your character look different from Vijay Devarakonda’s?
I am an Arjun Reddy fan.
I loved whatever I saw in the film, but once we started doing Kabir Singh, in my head Arjun Reddy did not exist.
I had to create a new character.
My preparation was mental, and I cannot explain it.
The physical transformation was the obvious part, where I had to put on weight for a portion and grow my hair and beard.
Then, I had to lose that weight.
But that was the easy part.
The tough part was getting into the head of the character and that happens over a period of time… spending time with the film-maker and doing the scenes. You start connecting with the character.
It’s like a relationship; the more you meet someone, the more you understand.
IMAGE: Shenaz Treasury, Amrita Rao and Shahid Kapoor in Ishq Vishk.
You played a college student in your debut film Ishq Visk. Now, 16 years later, you are still playing a college student.
I was shit scared about that!
I thought my younger brother, my wife and when my children grow up, they will say ‘Kya karne ki zaroorat thi, papa, bhool gaye they kya aap 38 ho. (What was the need to do that, have you forgotten you are 38?)
I was very scared about that part, whether I would be able to do it convincingly.
It was a risk.
But I loved the character a lot and worked really hard to get there.
Did your experience help you play this intense character?
The role came to me at a good time. If it had come earlier, I don’t know how I would have done it.
It was very tiring because it is an intense character.
It has a lot of aggressive moments, a lot of heartbreak moments, a lot of highly passionate moments.
Is it true that Prabhas called you and said Kabir Singh was better than Arjun Reddy?
He called me and said it was looking very good.
I don’t want to say better or worse, I don’t want to paraphrase.
He was very appreciative and he really liked the promo.
I was thankful because he is somebody I have loved on the big screen. To get appreciation from the fraternity closer to where Arjun Reddy comes from felt very nice.
Photograph: Abhijit Mhamunkar
Will your next role be lighter?
I think it should be good and exciting. The audience should be interested in it.
Whether it’s light or dark, I don’t think about that.
Are you happy with your career graph?
No. You must always feel the need to do something different, something new.
I don’t think I should be content.
I have seen people achieve more success in the first 10 years of their career.
My journey has been up and down, and there is a long way to go.