Actor Shahid Kapoor has been involved with two of the year’s most talked-about weddings.
The first was his own marriage to Mira Rajput and the second is a starring role in this week’s big Bollywood release Shaandaar.
The romantic comedy sees Shahid portray an unconventional wedding planner who unexpectedly gets close to the bride’s quirky sister, played by Alia Bhatt. It is the latest movie from director Vikas Bahl, whose last release was the multi-award-winning Queen.
Eastern Eye caught up with Kapoor to talk about Shaandaar, Bhatt, working with his father Pankaj Kapur, and how he feels being married.
You are very much in demand. What made you say yes to Shaandaar?
Vikas and I had been talking about doing a film together. He is somebody I have known for a few years. He’s been a part of marketing, production and has made some films which were liked. One day he called me to show me Queen well before its release. I loved it. It wasn’t even the final copy.
I saw it in the editing room. I said: ‘Man, it looks great, we should probably do something together’. We started jamming about what we should do and then one day he came up with this idea of a film based against the background of a destination wedding.
What happened next?
He told me about whatever was in his head for 10 minutes. I said: ‘It sounds great, why don’t you develop it?’. The next thing I knew he was developing it and came to narrate it to me. I thoroughly enjoyed the very different world he had created with Shaandaar.
We haven’t experienced something like this before and it is a really quirky take on marriages. All that goes on with the families, what goes on inbetween, and the backdrop sounded very different.
By then he had already become the best director in the country winning every award (for Queen). So it just happened and I was so happy that he chose to work with me.
Was it a welcome relief doing a light-hearted movie after an intense project like Haider?
(Laughs) To be honest I really enjoy doing dramatic films. I feel very passionately about them so I never feel really burdened by them. It’s tiring and demanding but it is also very exciting. So I wouldn’t say doing a different genre after Haider was a relief, but I would say it was something that was exciting because I haven’t done a film like Shaandaar in a while.
The last time you did something like this was Jab We Met...
Yes, Jab We Met was the last time I did a quirky fun romantic love story. I haven’t really done a film in this space since then. It was great to look at a genre that hasn’t been done for a while. It was great to get something like that, with a good film and an exciting filmmaker who had something new to say in this genre. So I was very excited about it!
Vishal Bhardwaj is a great filmmaker, so to go from him to Vikas Bahl was a great place to be in as an actor.
Was your father Pankaj Kapur on board by this time?
(Laughs) One of the first things Vikas told me was: ‘It was really easy casting you, but now I need your dad to play Alia’s father’. I just looked at him and said: ‘Dude, I can’t help you with that. Either he will do it or won’t! The fact that his son is in it makes absolutely no difference to him. If he thinks it’s interesting and you’re worth his time, he might just show interest. But I can’t help you with this’.
I told Vikas if you are looking for some kind of family interference or something, you are not going to gain any brownie points by telling him that I am in it. Dad is a thorough professional. Vikas met him a couple of times and dad actually enjoyed the subject. He thought it would be fun to do something of the sort.
Did you feel intimidated acting opposite your father because he is one of the finest actors in India?
There is this big Father of the Bride angle in the film where there is this overly possessive side to him. There is this very interesting and cute banter between him and I, which is there throughout the film.
He thought that it would be exciting for us to do something like this together for the first time. It wasn’t just like we’re in the same film; we had stuff to do together in it so he decided to come on board.
Yes, it was very intimidating working with my dad because he is an absolutely phenomenal actor. Just to share the frame with him is a rather scary experience. You wonder if anyone is interested in watching you at all. So I did go through my initial jitters. But eventually I had a lot of fun. It was great to work with him and I learned so much.
You are very chilled out. What is it like working with a livewire like Alia Bhatt?
We got along right from the first day. We didn’t know each other at all before the film started but four days into it we would be sitting in a corner together listening to music and talking about random stuff. We would catch lunch together; we really hit it off. I was very pleasantly surprised with that because I didn’t know if we would get along so well. I think that is really reflected in the film.
That must help your performance?
It is always great when co-actors genuinely get along. There is a sense of camaraderie and friendship which is real and beyond just being contemporaries working together. I feel like that towards Alia.
That really helped us create what we have in Shaandaar. She is a hugely talented actor and is this big bundle of energy, which is always amazing to have except early mornings. (Laughs) I am not a morning person, so I used to tell her: ‘Shut it and let me wake up!’. But other than that it was awesome. She’s so talented, I had a total blast working with her.
Tell us a bit about your character?
My character is called Jagjinder Joginder. Usually those are both first names, but it happens to be his first and last name – why? You will find out in the film. Vikas has this quirky take on everything, so this is his version of a wedding planner who likes to ride big bikes with Kolhapuri chappals. He has this whole leather jacket vibe, but is scared of the dark.
Vikas has this interesting take on how he likes to show people’s contrasting sides. It’s a very different character and I haven’t played a guy like this before. I haven’t done a genre like this before. It is obviously a love story. You really need to see the film to discover the character – it is difficult to explain it. But yes. he is a Punjabi!
If you are nice him. he will be nice back; but if you take panga he will totally mess you up. You can’t get on his wrong side. He loves dancing, loves his family and is very protective of all women. He is a slightly hard-looking, soft-hearted guy.
Do you have a favourite moment in the movie?
I really like the portions between me and dad; whenever we are gabbing at each other! It was just fun fighting with my dad. I don’t get to do it off-camera (laughs), so it was fun to do it on it.
How do you feel being married?
It is pretty much the same. I guess you feel a little more settled. A change has happened in life, but other than that it is the same. I am still doing what I used to do every day. I am in a good space and I’m feeling very happy.
What inspires you?
Inspirations comes in the smallest of doses in the smallest of ways, so I wouldn’t want to make some huge statement about what inspires me. But I think people inspire me.
It’s beautiful to see people trying to do better in life. When you see that on any level, it’s always inspiring. It’s a reminder of the fact that you are fortunate to be where you are. Everybody is working really hard to get somewhere in life. You should never forget that. I draw inspiration from everyday life and normal people all the time.
Why should we all watch Shaandaar?
I always find it difficult to sell my own movies. I feel really odd because we have to put the promo out there. When I first heard about Shaandaar it gave me such a happy feeling. I felt that it was really fresh and quirky. So there are three good th-ings; it’s a happy film, it’s fresh in content, and it’s really quirky.
Finally, would you like to give us a message for your dedicated British fan base?
I performed live for the first time in the UK last year and I think we had around 12,000 people. It was an absolutely amazing experience. It was the largest and closest interaction with all the people who appreciate my work in the UK. I felt so much love that day and I realised how blessed I am.
With the amount of warmth and love that I get from everybody in the UK, I just want to thank you guys. I am going to do everything in my capacity to entertain you for as long as I can, and give everyone an amazing time every time I am given an opportunity, whether it’s a performance or any other way. Thank you for all the love from the bottom of my heart.
Shaandaar is in cinemas now