Interview: Shraddha Kapoor / by Tara Kaushal

December 2014: For someone who’s only ever wanted to face the camera, the success of the past couple of years has been a dream come true. Shraddha Kapoor is riding the wave and soaking in all the love.

The cover of  Women's Health .

The cover of Women's Health.

I take in the view as I wait for Shraddha on this sunny Sunday afternoon, watching waves hit Silver Beach from the Kapoors’ seventh floor apartment in Juhu, Mumbai. She breezes in soon—wearing a smile, a comfy deep blue tee, Aztec-print beige jammies and thick-rimmed black glasses—and settles into a sofa placed under a portrait of her father.

It may be an obvious question to the daughter of a famous actor, but I ask it anyway. And she says yes, to be in the movies was always, always the plan. Even as a little girl, she’d act, dance and dress up for functions at school… “In fact,” she breaks off animatedly mid-sentence, “you must see this.” On her phone, she shows me what is obviously an early nineties’ picture of a school play—kids all dressed in pseudo-adult outfits, bright lipstick and rouge—and there she is, signing an autograph! “I was playing Madhuri Dixit. A friend shared this photograph with me yesterday, and I was like ‘Oh My God!’”

Yet, she spent two years at Boston University, majoring in psychology. “When you hear so much of ‘tu badi hokar heroine hi banegi’ (‘you are only going to be an actress when you grow up’), you want to rebel and swim against the tide. But deep in my heart I always knew this is the only thing I wanted to do.”

A Rare Love

Back on summer break, she started getting film offers. “I thought: I can either start acting after three more years or I can just do it now.” Parents Shakti Kapoor and Shivangi Kolhapure were very supportive, though they still try to coax her in to finishing her course, she says, calling herself a “dropout” (an endearing and misplaced concern for a star, methinks). It was her third film, the 2013 blockbuster Aashiqui 2 that catapulted her into stardom, the first of her hat trick.

Seeing “love in people’s eyes” is the “biggest high”, and has changed her whole life. “Fans don’t want anything from you… It’s even beyond art, it’s about catering to that unconditional love.” Social media allows them to give her direct feedback, and pleasing them colours everything she does—from the movies and roles she chooses to the her sartorial choices.

Though her personal style is “jhalli” and “bohemian” with Goa pyjamas, track pants and maxi skirts (similar to her Ek Tha Villain character and as she’s presently dressed), “I’ve been told that I should not be like this.” She now feels the responsibility to make an effort, and lately, since Tanya Ghavri’s become her stylist, has started to enjoy and embrace fashion more.

Her fans have also loved her subtle presence in the spectacular Haider. She had no reservations, despite it being an ensemble cast, the lack of a traditional hero-heroine equation, her small role and Tabu’s legendary one. Vishal Bharadwaj is a “ball of love who makes you feel like you have something special, makes you feel alive,” she says.

Given that, in India, an actor’s screen and public image is what people actually think of them as a person, I wonder whether this need-to-please will prevent Shraddha from playing darker characters. “I would keep that at the back of my mind—are the people watching going to be happy seeing me like this? Upset? Interested? Surprised?”

A Chance to Dance

She’s now doing Remo D’Souza’s ABCD2, and having an absolute blast. “I’ve been waiting to do a film in which I can dance. None of my films till now have had any big dances, and suddenly I get a movie where I only dance!” Everyone on the cast but Varun Dhawan and her is a professional dancer. “We’ve just been added to the group, and hope we fit in.” When she first saw the steps, she was sure she wouldn’t be able to do them until the dancers told her that, when she entered the hall, she had to stop thinking, just feel it and do it.

For this movie, she’s been on a meal plan designed by celebrity trainer Marika Johansson, who formulates a diet based on your problem areas and preferences, and delivers meals for the day each morning. She tries, but loves food, especially fried food. “Jalebis with hot milk is deadly!”

Her dermatologist too tells her to eat healthy and not to pick her pimples (“I get tempted”). She’s going through a “really bad skin phase” (I count three measly pimples) and is working on improving her skin. She doesn’t do much: drinks water and green tea, washes with a face wash and moisturises.

A Fresh New Year

It’s been two incredible, hectic years for Shraddha, and “2014 has been too fast!” She spent last New Year’s asleep in bed. During the holiday season this year, she’s expecting to be in Las Vegas shooting a schedule for ABCD2. They wrap on the 30th and the whole crew may stay back—“Sounds like fun to me!”

The revived trend of all-round performers in the film industry, a la stage, is exciting to this girl who asserts, “I love dancing as much as I love acting as much as I love singing.” This New Year, the lights will only get brighter, the stage, bigger, for this girl with a dream.

An edited version of this interview was the cover story of Women's Health in December 2014. Read another interview of Shraddha Kapoor here.