Shahid Kapoor, 33, may be a mainstream star who loves to dance and sing and who is a heart-throb for girls in India, but he has grown up believing that it is the actor in him that will make him the star.
He did Haider for free as he believes much like his director Vishal Bhardwaj that there are some stories that must be told and there are films that you do for enriching yourself and making your soul happy. Over a quick conversation ahead of his film's release he talks about his father Pankaj Kapur, his godfather Vishal Bhardwaj and his fan moments, sharing screen space with Irrfan. Excerpts:What made you do Haider for free?
The industry right now is like an open field where everyone can come and grab their own land. It's scary for the people who have been in the industry and have been there for a while as it is unpredictable, but from a creative point of view, it's a great time. 75% of our audiences are between the age of 15 and 35 and they have a fresh and open perspective towards cinema. So, what you want to make sure is that you make a good film and if you managed to do that, you will find an audience for it. And that's what we are trying to do with Haider, not worrying about anything. It has broken every possible type of stereotype that makes a film a commercial success. Today, the marketing of a film is becoming such a big deal, that people have started thinking about it even while writing a film. It's great to be good at marketing, but eventually films are about storytelling. I really think that the finest filmmakers, some of whom may also be the biggest filmmakers, are people who are storytellers. They are people who have gone out there and taken risks and found themselves the space.
The striking filmmakers in our country are people who did not follow norms, be it Anurag Basu in Barfi, Sujoy Ghosh in Kahaani, Vikas Bahl in Queen, Ashutosh Gowariker in Lagaan, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra in Rang De Basanti, Raju Hirani in Lage Raho Munna Bhai or filmmakers like Sanjay Leela Bhansali or Vishal Bhardwaj who have done that in their whole career. I did one such film called Kaminey and it gave me the belief deep down that while I am an entertainer and love to dance and sing, eventually I want to act. I have grown up being told that it is the actor in me that will make me a star. And after being in the business for over 10 years, I cannot even begin to tell you how happy I am that I have done this film. I am happy for my soul, for the actor in me. I feel enriched to have stood in the frame with Irrfan, Tabu and Kay Kay, to have been directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, to get a chance to play Hamlet. This film will help me for the rest of my life. It stands for cinema of passion. It stands for taking risks and for making cinema that you believe in.READ: Haider--Movie ReviewKaminey was your finest performance so far. Have you beaten that in Haider?
I can't comment on my own work. Initially, when I said yes to Haider, I didn't realise how complicated and complex the role would be. But after starting to do the film, I felt the weight of the role on me. This was the kind of role Vishal sir would give an actor the level of my father Pankaj Kapur or Irrfan, people with very high calibre. He took a big risk by casting me in it, but he had that confidence and love for me. It completes Vishal sir's trilogy. I just read a line in his book where he says that he had pre-decided that I was going to be Haider and that he wouldn't have made that film without me. I wouldn't have cast myself in this role. So, I think I have some kind of a connection with him. Vishal sir and my relationship has really grown. In Kaminey, it was a good relationship between a director and actor. But with Haider, I have an emotional connection with him. The other day I read your story with him and Gulzar sahab and I just wished in my heart that I could have that relationship with him. He recently said while promoting the film, 'Shahid has so much more as an actor that you can tap into.' I thought to myself, 'Wow man. I didn't even think I had this much.' That's amazingly encouraging, coming from someone who has worked with so many great actors in our country. Haider is a film that needed parents. It needed to be nourished, protected and taken care of. It is a very pure and honest attempt and has a story that needed to be told. Vishal sir and me started trusting each other during this journey. There is a weird understanding, where if he looks me in the eye and tells me to do something, I will do it. While I would do that professionally for my other directors, I can't promise that I would feel like that for everybody.READ: Vishal Bhardwaj: I'm not anti- national, but I'll comment on what's anti-humanDoes it come from the trust that he has in you?
He reminds me of my father. Because I feel protected by him and I feel that he knows much more than me. And I feel that he cares and loves me and I can learn from him. We were doing this scene, where I completely break down and feel devastated. We shot it in the middle of the graveyard in the middle of a forest. It was minus 18 degrees and we were shooting in a wildlife sanctuary that was completely silent. The cameras were really far away, almost 50 feet away from me. I did that shot, broke down and as soon as I heard cut, I felt someone's arm around me and that was Vishal sir. I don't know how he got there from 50 feet so fast, but he did. Usually we are not that physical with each other and there is that respect and difference in age. I know that he did not come there for me professionally, but rushed to me as he felt that he wanted to be there with me at that point. I had actually broken down, forgetting that I was performing.Talk about working with Shraddha Kapoor?
She is enthusiastic, young, fresh, off-the-oven kid who is loving the fact that she is in a Vishal Bhardwaj film, wanting to give her 200% to it. It was great fun working with her.Which of your co-actors did you enjoy working with the most in Haider?
I was a bit of a fan boy with Irrfan. I would keep observing him. His acting is effortless. Despite him doing nothing, it looked so beautiful. It was awesome just sharing the frame with him, observing and learning just watching him.Your father is one of the finest actors in our country. He has directed you, is your father and is now also your co-actor in Shaandar. What does he feel about you as an actor?
He is extremely encouraging though he is quite honest also. There are some films of mine where he has seen and said, 'Ha, these kind of films you do anyways', but there are some films that he will see and say, 'This is what you should be tapping into.' He is 60 now and so, he has become very soft-hearted. He gets emotional about me very easily. I was talking to him just a day before from Delhi and he tells me, 'Yaar, my heart is with you. I am missing you too much.' I am his eldest son. I am now 33 and somehow, both my parents now feel that I am a man, am running my own life, and I get this really amazing kind of love from them. I think they are happy with how I am in my life right now. There have been times in the past when they have been worried about me. My father feels that I have probably done 5% of what he thinks I should do. He always says, 'I wouldn't have told you if I felt you couldn't. So, you should.' And I am trying to do just that with Haider.Has he seen Haider?
Yes. He saw it before the final print. He was very happy. When I go back home after a performance-oriented film, we will always sit and have chai together and I have my 15 minutes together as father-son and as actors together when I will always ask him what he felt. Much like Vishal sir, my father too loves Shakespeare and thinks that he is the greatest playwright ever. Before I left for the film, my dad just held my shoulders for a minute and said, 'You know that you are going to do play Hamlet, right? Go.' And I understood the weight and pressure of that line and thought, 'Ohhh! That's a lot of pressure. Alright dad I get it.' After seeing the film, we went back home as always and while having my chai with him, I asked him, 'Dad, did I miss out on anything?' He took a sip from his chai, looked here and there and then said, 'No. I think you got everything.' And I was like ohhhooo!!! There are sides to me that are like him and there are sides to me that are not. For instance, he enjoyed R...Rajkumar even though I didn't expect him to but I do know when he likes something very much. Haider is probably the closest I have so far come to do, basis what he wants me to. Haider, co-produced by UTV Motion Pictures and VB Pictures, releases today.