Shraddha Kapoor

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.

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.