Interview: Shraddha Kapoor / by Tara Kaushal

October 2015: A dreamer, a learner, a doer. The multitalented actress Shraddha Kapoor seeks to be everything she is not.

The cover of  Harper's Bazaar .

The cover of Harper's Bazaar.

She’s sitting in exactly the same place—on a sofa under a portrait of her father, in the Kapoors’ apartment facing Silver Beach in Juhu, Mumbai—as she was when we last spoke. She’s in give-a-damn clothes as before, a long-sleeved deep blue tee, skinny jeans, and laceless ankle boots in deep tan, with not a hint of make-up.

But I instantly sense something fundamental has changed about—evolved in—Shraddha Kapoor in the past year.

Once she starts talking, nineteen to the dozen, it’s not hard to figure out what it is. As a “creative, curious person,” she has always wanted to “have as many life experiences as possible” and to be in films. She hails from a family of performers and has always been a talented all-round one herself—she’s studied theatre, Kathak, Odissi, street jazz, and even the piano for 10 years! Now, watching her dreams dovetailing and coming true, making a mark with four hits in a six-film career, this 26-year-old seems to have gained a deep confidence and is emanating a powerful creative energy.

Although I’d met her last after her performance in the fabulous Haider, she is only now embracing the self-assurance of success and recognition. “When my first two films didn't do well, I was really shaken. You know how terrible it feels when you have failures.”

However, she feels more than fortunate now. “Everyday I have a moment of realisation that I am just so blessed to be getting the opportunities I’m getting.” There’s the travelling, of course. Director Mohit Suri got her to sing Galliyan for Ek Villain, during which she also got to relive her passion for scuba diving in the underwater sequence. “For ABCD2, Varun (Dhawan) and I got a chance to dance with the country’s best professional dancers. Who gets such a chance?”

She says her passions are intertwining, and she has the best job in the world. And she’s throbbing with inspiration. But there is also the awareness that it’s fleeting, that a Friday hit/flop can determine your standing and how people treat you.

So she’s seizing these chances wholeheartedly, keeping her nose to the grindstone and giving each one her best. And it shows—Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN wrote about the “sheer hard work” of ABCD2’s leads: “Both actors hold their own against the professionals without losing face.” Rani Mukherjee also recently told Kapoor that her hard work could be seen in every shot. Dhawan, a childhood friend, too comments on her dedication, calling her “a go-getter, someone who wants to get better and better.” She thinks these are the best kind of compliments to get.

Kapoor is also a believer in “the power of the universe”, that the universe will conspire to make something you truly want happen. “That’s what I really feel every day.” Take, for instance, Rock On!! 2, her upcoming project for which she’s been at band rehearsals all day at Yash Raj Studios. She remembers watching the first instalment with her family when it was released eight years ago, and being so blown away by the movie that she thought, “I must be really crazy to think this… but if they make a Rock On!! 2, I have to be in it.” And here she is, playing a singer in the movie, singing her own songs, playing the piano, alongside most of the original cast (“Oh My God!”) and some other biggies. She can barely contain herself.

Another project in the pipeline is Baaghi: A Rebel for Love, an action-romantic film opposite Tiger Shroff. They’ve just shot one song thus far—“I had to dance in five-inch heels while Tiger was doing his spins and flips, not fair,” she mock-complains, laughing. She leaves for Kerala the day after this interview to shoot for the latter, then to Shillong for the former.

Kapoor likes the excitement of changing skins, hair, make-up, and looks between characters, doing different roles. Since Tanya Ghavri’s become her stylist, she’s also been exploring her relationship with fashion in a deeper way. Though her personal style was “bohemian”, she now enjoys couture for events and magazine covers.

With a life so full of loves and passions—including Instagram and Snapchat that she now prefers to Twitter—I ask her what she thinks of love, the romantic kind. “I am open to it. I feel like love can come, spring up on you and surprise you at anytime.” It’s clearly not a priority though (“What is Tinder?”), and she’s not seeking. “I need to work on my skills, explore my passions. If it has to happen it will happen, if it doesn’t, it’s fine. I have my other loves that I am happy with.”

She reveals that she also writes, incidentally, and has been doing so since she was little. What about? “I write what I’m feeling and to capture my day. I just write to remember my experiences when am older.” She recently reread her last entry as a 19-year-old, about all the flowers and excitement of turning 20… “It’s so interesting to go back to that.” Does she rewatch her performances as well? “No, surprisingly, not since their screenings! I’m waiting to do so,” she says, wondrously aware that the benchmarks in her personal journey are public ones, frozen in celluloid for eternity.

“She has really grown,” says Dhawan. “People thought she was over, and now look at her—she’s shown everyone who Shraddha Kapoor is.”

On her part, Kapoor says, “You have one life, and you want to try and do whatever you can do in it. Why not? Whether you are good at it or suck at it or are great at it—that’s a different story.” Carpe diem.

An edited version of this interview was the cover story of Harper’s Bazaar in October 2015. Read another interview of Shraddha Kapoor here.