Shahid Kapoor, 32, is a simple guy, who doesn't like complications in life. He feels he could have done with being less emotional, but is extremely sensitive and feels protective about his mother and half-brother Ishaan. He has had a tough life, but is emotionally strong. His parents were separated, he shifted cities, could not make friends and needed to find direction in life. Films gave him both, direction and structure, and he takes pride in the fact that he has made something of his life, as it could have got easily messed up. Even though both his parents (Pankaj Kapur and Neelima Azim) remarried, his family has always been honest with him, as a result of which, he has achieved the difficult balance of building a happy relationship with his extended family. He did not know how to deal with all the attention he got as a star initially, and would not reveal his true self to people, but he is himself today and appreciates the love that comes his way. Ahead of his film Phata Poster Nikhla Hero, he opens up to TOI about his caring maternal grandfather, his uncomplicated father and why he would not like to date a heroine again. Excerpts:Let's talk about your childhood?
My father was in NSD and my mother, a professional Kathak dancer and a student of Birju Maharaj. When I was about three, my parents divorced and my father moved to Mumbai to be an actor. I lived with my mother and grandparents in Press Enclave in Saket, Delhi. Both my grandparents were journalists and worked for a Russian magazine Sputnik, where they translated Urdu into Russian and so I was exposed to a lot of Urdu. My grandfather had decided that he would protect me and spend all his time with me. He would walk me to school every single day. He would talk to me about dad, with whom he shared a great relationship. and read out his letters to me. I have memories of sitting on stage next to musicians, while my mother was performing as she was one of Birju Maharaj's finest dancers. He would make me sit in his lap and watch movies of Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee, as he liked the way they manouvered their bodies. My dad used to visit us only on my birthdays, as we were a middle-class family and could not afford to travel whenever we wanted. My dad tells me that I would always howl when he left and insist that he never goes back and that those moments were extremely painful for him. My father had soon remarried and when I was 10, I moved with my mother to Mumbai as she wanted to act and she started doing TV. I lived a nomadic life for a while, so I became tough and did not have a protected life. Even financially, we were always just managing. I was not happy in school in Mumbai and never got along with anyone, being an outsider. I was aggressive till I hit college and became the most popular guy, so I have no friends from school. My mother soon remarried and had Ishaan from her second marriage. I lived with my mom and Ishaan till 23, when I moved into my own place.How did films happen?
Being a star was a far-fetched dream and I did not know where to start. I started learning dance at Shiamak Davar's Summer Funk. He thought I was a good dancer and I was upgraded from the beginner's batch to the intermediate batch that would otherwise take nine months. At the end of the summer session, we were performing at Nehru auditorium, when he selected me as the best dancer across the city. It was a Hindi film moment for me, where my batchmates picked me up on their shoulders and everything became slow motion for me on stage. I became a full-fledged dancer with him and learnt my professionalism there, be it to come on time or work hard to earn money, as we would dance 15 hours a day. I danced for four years and bought myself a bike. My friend asked me to accompany him for a Pepsi ad audition to Prahlad Kakar's office, where I was waiting at the reception when his assistant asked me if I would like to audition also. I did, and to my utter surprise, got selected. Before I knew it I was in the commercial with Shah Rukh, Rani and Kajol and suddenly started getting advertising offers. At 20, I looked 15 as I was really skinny. I went to meet Ramesh Taurani in his office. He met me and said, 'Tu
actor ban sakta hai, but tu do saal
.' It was easy for him to say two years, but for me it was really tough as I had to support myself and two years seemed a long time. But he called me a year later for a film called Ishq Vishk,
where he was launching newcomers. I auditioned and was selected. The biggest star in our film was Anu Malik. So, at the trial show, we were all waiting with samosas in our hand for Anuji to come, hoping that our film would get a good opening based on his music. The funniest thing was my meeting with Anuji in the loo during the interval, where we were both peeing next to each other. He finishes peeing, zips himself and puts his hand on my shoulder without washing it and looks at me and says, 'Beta
!' He was praising me, but all my attention was on his hand. On the night before release, I was restless and went for a drive to Fame Adlabs, where a labourer was putting up my posters on the wall. I asked him, 'Can I stick them with you?' They looked puzzled why I would do so, but later realised that I was actually the hero.You are perennially linked up with your co-stars. What is your relationship status currently?
I am single for the last two years. When I don't have a girlfriend, who I am answerable to, I can go out and hang with people. But whether you go for a movie with someone or a meal or a drive, it is assumed that you are dating that person. I have always been in relationships. I am actually living my 20s in my 30s, as all through my 20s I was in relationships and ever since I have turned 30, I am single. It's a great time and I am not letting it go for a while. But I know if I fall in love now, it will be for good as I don't think I have the emotional energy to invest for a year and then break up and then go through the phase of being single. Also, I think I should date a normal girl. I am tired of dating heroines. While I believe in marriage as an institution, I am also petrified of it.Inspite of you potentially being a big star, you lost out last few years due to the time given to Mausam. Any learnings for you?
I had always told my father that before working with him in the same frame as an actor, which I was petrified to do, I wanted to learn from him, so I had pleaded with him for two years before he agreed to write and direct Mausam
. It was our dream project and a wonderful opportunity for us to work as a family. He has always been an actor, but as a director I saw him going through so much stress that I decided that I would always make people happy on my set. I felt that even more important than making good cinema was to make people smile. And that is something every actor can do, both in front of and off the camera. My dad and I had promised each other that while we would shoot that, we would not take up other work. The film was to finish in six months, but it took close to two years and things just happened which were outside our control.Mausam
did not do well and I had lost two critical years of my life. I will never give two years of my life to one film again. Mine was an extremely emotional approach and, the kind of career we are in, I will not suggest that to anybody. The worst period was the six months that I didn't work after that and that just being circumstantial without a reason. Films was such an important part of my life that I just did not know how to deal with it. I was so frustrated that I went and bought my Jaguar without telling anyone just to make myself feel good. At that time, you either get worried or let go. I let go. In life, there's a larger scheme to things and if you learn to submit to that, good things happen to you and I have seen that happen in the last eight months. I have decided that I am not going to plan, but just enjoy what I am going to do and see where that takes me and I feel today I am much happier.Who are you most attached to?
My father and Ishaan. My father and I are similar in many ways. I love my mother, but connect with my father more. My father is the simplest man I know at heart. He is not complicated and is emotional, but will not show. He is amazingly dedicated to his work. He hates the fact that I don't call him everyday and speak to him and the fact that I am always on the phone when I am eating food with him. I was 15 when Ishaan was born, and will always feel protective towards him.