Shahid Kapoor: There is no Mira-Shahid time now. All the time we have is Misha time
A sophisticated but cluttered room that serves as a home theatre greets us as we wait to meet Shahid Kapoor for this interview. Decorative side tables are adorned with half-filled cups of tea and jugs of cookies, none of which would have been consumed by the actor given the strict diet that's been charted out for him for his upcoming historical drama. The home theatre, which doubles up as a gym, comes across as an ideal bachelor pad. Yet, the littered assortment of baby products reveal a different story. It's almost as if this room, tucked away in Kapoor's basement, can barely keep up with the pace of his rapidly progressing life — from a bachelor to a husband, and a husband to a father.
A tiny staircase leads us to an expansive sea-facing terrace, where Kapoor greets us with a familiarity that seems confounding. "Chatting with Shahid is like talking to a college buddy," is a frequently read anecdote that instantly comes to mind. At first glance, this does seem true. Seated with folded legs on his couch, the actor randomly prods us on our own relationship status in a bid to put his point across, frequently digs into a bowl of high-protein cake and expresses gratitude towards the deafening planes that punctuate our conversations, for giving him "time to think".
Excerpts from the conversation...
Your latest outing will mark your third collaboration with Vishal Bhardwaj. Which part about his filmmaking process inspires you the most?
Vishal sir always attempts to create a new world. When you sign up for a project with him, you can be assured that it will not be similar to his previous work. There are only a few filmmakers like that. It's Vishal sir's foremost priority to maintain this distinction in his projects. Also, his storytelling technique has several layers.
How has your relationship with him changed over the years?
It has been an evolving relationship. He has probably been the most relevant filmmaker in my career. He's given me two memorable films, both of which have helped me discover myself as an actor. I am very possessive about him. If he tells me to do something, and I do it, something good happens. He really works for me, and I think I also work for him.
You've spoken about how your equation with him changed from being a relatively reserved one in Kaminey (2009), to a more close-knit one in Haider (2014), and went back to being a formal on in your latest outing. Why is that so?
Haider was a passion child for us. We kind of made this baby that nobody wanted us to have. Nobody was ready to back the film and he really wanted to make it. When he told me about it, I said, 'I'm with you, let's make this.' So we were pretty close. There was a lot of personal equity involved there. This time, I felt ignored by him on most occasions. He had too many things to concentrate on while I wanted more of his attention. He had multiple things to handle.
There were a lot of rumours about how you and your co-star Kangana Ranaut didn't get along. Is there any truth there?
We finished shooting for the film in April. These rumours surfaced in December. Why was it that there was no news about our equation back then? If they [rumours] were true, they would have surfaced then. I had no issues working with anybody. I thought people would believe that there were problems between me and Saif [Ali Khan, co-star], for obvious reasons, but it went the other way around. Kangana is one of the best actors we have.
You've often said that you have a problem with the term 'two-hero' films. But there have been several reports about actors refusing to collaborate on a project. You've just bagged an award for your turn in Udta Punjab, which had four lead characters. What do you think of this trend?
Amitabh Bachchan is the most successful male actor. Have you seen his filmography? He has acted alongside several stars throughout his career.
But don't you think the dynamics have changed now?
Says who? Do you remember The Revenant (2015)? Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the biggest stars we have in the world. When he can work with Tom Hardy, what's the issue? Different people have different points of views. Would I be okay participating in a film that's not just about me? Yes, I would. I would actually be worried to do a film that's only about me. Because, how many subjects can only be about you? Today it's important to participate in films that are relevant, exciting and new. It's essential to be a part of great content. If that happens through a film that has one character, or multiple characters, doesn't matter. Even in Haider, I didn't enter until the 25th minute. I don't think the audience gives a s**t [about the number of actors in a film]. I just don't want those sitting in the theatre to go, 'Dude why did we come? We should have gone for dinner or done something else.' You need to give them a great experience for two hours. Internationally, people are doing this all the time. They are participating in good films.
Working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali is on every actor's wish list. How has the journey of Padmavati been so far?
Sanjay sir drives you to give your best. It's only the beginning but I'm loving the experience. He pushes every department to the maximum. When you think you've done a good job [with a scene], that's where he starts working on you.
People loved your appearance with wife Mira Rajput on Koffee with Karan.
I think people have loved Mira's interview, and I was also there (laughs). I think what people enjoyed most was watching us as a couple. It was more about seeing me as a husband, and her as the person she is. All the things that people have been saying about her are things that I've known for over a year. She's normal, she's great, she's real.
But soon after that, there was a string of critical comments, where people claimed that you hadn't given a 21-year-old girl the chance to explore her career'.
I don't give importance to people who try to get importance by criticising those who are important. Just because she [Mira] got married early, doesn't mean she doesn't have an identity. Today, women do what they feel like doing. And, as men, we should respect that. Whether you are a working woman, housewife, young mother or a woman who chooses to have a child at a later stage in life, it's your decision. Mira and I are really happy. I wish people could be happy for those who are.
Mira Rajput and Shahid Kapoor
Given your current schedule, do you get enough time with daughter Misha?
There is no Mira-Shahid time now. All the time we have is Misha time. I'm loving this phase.
Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone have explored the world outside . Do you aspire to head to Hollywood too?
I am a home bird so I love being here [Mumbai]. Also, I don't like taking flights. But, if an opportunity comes my way, why not [partake in it]? I would love to do good work, be it in any language. Of course, I will make certain that I'm as comfortable expressing myself in that language as I am in Hindi. I want to act. If I'm able to do that in another language, no problem. Having said that, who am I to sit here and make plans? I don't make five-year plans or chalk out my career. I take life as it comes.