Shahid Kapoor: If I don't learn to adapt, I will be obsolete

In a candid conversation, Shahid Kapoor admits how life has changed dramatically post Haider and his marriage

Q. After Haider (2014), you seem to have become more careful about your choice of films. You turned down Farzi.
A. Yes, a lot has changed. In fact, the change started just before I took up 'Haider'.

Shahid Kapoor
Shahid Kapoor

Q. After the debacle of 'Mausam' (2011)?
A. Not really. I am proud of 'Mausam'. It's just that it didn't turn out the way it should have. I realised a large part of me felt that I couldn't express myself as an actor. Under pressure, I did a lot of things, not because I wanted to, but because I needed to do them in order to become successful. Around that time, I strongly felt I should follow my gut henceforth. And then, 'Haider' came my way. It was a big gamble, which paid off. If 'Haider' had not turned out as outstanding as it did, it could have worked against us.

Q. Would you say you came of age?
A. Probably. I became more fearless. If I were cautious, I wouldn't do films like 'Haider' and 'Udta Punjab'. These are the kind of films that you need to do to back yourself as an actor without worrying about commercial success.

Q. Are you doing it because you are more confident now?
A. Probably. I feel a little more sure-footed as an actor, but there's also the fact that I am working with the right people. You feel secure when you are taken care of as an actor. I enjoyed working with Vishal (Bhardwaj), Vikas (Bahl) and Abhishek (Chaubey). I am doing my third film ('Rangoon') with Vishal sir, and it's so cool. Every time he chooses me, I feel like high-fiving everybody around me. Although he has the finest talent around him, including my father (Pankaj Kapur), Naseer saab (Naseeruddin Shah), Irrfan and Tabu ma'am, he still gives me opportunities. When we did 'Kaminey' (2009), we shared just a director-actor relationship. But post Haider, it became more than professional. Now I have an emotional attachment with Vishal sir. Whatever he has done for me has been way beyond my capacity.

Q. Do you take a director's work into consideration before choosing to do a film with him/ her? Would you have done 'Shaandaar' if Vikas' filmography didn't include 'Queen'?
A. I signed 'Shaandaar' before 'Queen' released. It helps to have viewed someone's work to understand his/ her sensibilities to an extent. But that apart, I go ahead with a film if I like the script. I think I am in a nice place now. Earlier, I used to be more conventional and play safer with my choices. For example, I did 'Phata Poster Nikla Hero' and 'R...Rajkumar'. I was in a zone where I felt I should be part of commercially successful films. Today, I do films without worrying about how well they can do. I am investing in people I believe in. My journey now is internal; I am no longer looking around and wondering what would work for me at the box office. In today's time, one needs to be more relevant than commercially successful. Focussing on commercial success can make you dated. Relevant films will keep you connected to the youth; you can move ahead with your sensibilities.

Q. Is that the difference between a star and an actor?
A. Not really. Some of the biggest stars in Hollywood have recognised the importance of being relevant. Look at Leonardo DiCaprio and the films he chooses. People who are relevant are bound to find success in the long run. I want to focus on the process instead of worrying about the result. I want to enjoy my work and take pride in it. Everything around us is changing, especially the way we are consuming content. With the advent of 4G, I expect a drastic evolution in the next two or three years. Imagine the amount of information we are going to be exposed to. It is mind boggling. I have been in this industry for 12 years and if I don't learn to adapt, I will be obsolete.

Shahid Kapoor with wife Mira Rajput
Shahid Kapoor with wife Mira Rajput

Q. How's life after marriage?
A. Three months ago, I had 100 per cent stake in my house. But now, I have about 49 per cent, and I guess I will soon hold only 33 per cent (laughs). I am in a happy space. For 10 years, I stayed alone and now I have someone to share my life with. It is great to have someone to come home to. I remember, every time I won an award last year, I repeatedly felt the need to share it with someone my age. Of course, being single comes with a lot of advantage, including freedom, but it is also nice to share with someone all that you have. It is a great feeling that everything in my life has become important to someone and vice versa.

Q. Mira and you seem like really different people.
A. The best thing about us is that we communicate well. We come from different backgrounds and are actively working towards finding who we are and making adjustments to reach a common point. From the time we first met, we were open to adjust to each other's personalities. Mira always tries to understand me. Being different works because it is good to go back to a normal home and have a normal conversation.

Q. Two years ago, you told me that you were tired of being serious in a relationship and wanted to have fun before getting married. What changed?
A. (Laughs) I guess we all change with time. At different stages in life, you go through an emotional process. I think I was ready for marriage. It happened very fast, but seemed right. I feel settled now, which is great.

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