Janhvi Kapoor wants to create an identity apart from her mother Sridevi
Janhvi Kapoor talks about taking baby steps in Bollywood, creating an identity apart from her mother and winning hearts
You are making a grand entry into Bollywood with Dhadak. Does that make you nervous?
I am nervous, but at the same time, excited. We spent the last year-and-a-half of our lives dedicated to this journey and now we are putting it out there for the world to judge and enjoy, and even dissect. For me, this has been a personal journey which is coming to an end and that feeling is a little emotional.
Did you always know that acting was going to be your choice of career?
Post school, I had no plan of going to college. I don’t believe in institutional studies. Formal education conditions your mind rather than giving you the freedom to explore. So, I wanted to enrol myself in different courses including acting, art history and a fashion course. I started out with an acting course [at The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in Los Angeles], and I felt right at home. In one of the classes, I was performing in front of a camera and in another, I was on stage. Though I didn’t learn much through the course, I realised that acting was my calling. I expressed my concern to my parents, and told them that I didn’t wish to take up any more courses. After I came back, I worked on my Hindi diction and dancing skills.
Janhvi with sister Khushi Kapoor
Hailing from a filmi family, was acting the natural progression for you?
It’s like asking what came first — the chicken or the egg? Frankly, I don’t know if I would have been inclined towards acting if I wasn’t from the Kapoor family. At home, we are always talking about films. As kids, our family holidays were always about visiting my parents’ film sets. I believe, my moral compass has been shaped by movies. I remember skipping school and watching five movies in a day; my parents thought I was insane. I learned more on the set than in school because films help you learn through experience.
How did you break the news of becoming an actor at home?
I told my mother and her reaction was, ‘aiyyo’. I extended my stay in Los Angeles because I still needed to come out of my shell. I wanted to experience life that was independent of my parents. My parents were still uncertain, but their biggest concern was the dedication and time it required. Ultimately, they sensed that I was passionate about it.
Janhvi with mother Sridevi
Is it true, Sridevi asked you to reconsider your decision?
Yes, she felt that I shouldn’t pick acting like a trial and error method. She told me, "If you want to do this, you need to give it everything and nothing else should matter". The biggest tip she gave me was to feel every emotion. Luckily, that comes to me organically.
What was your first meeting with director-producer Karan Johar like?
Karan sir had come home. Mom and he were having a conversation about Alia [Bhatt], Varun [Dhawan] and Sidharth [Malhotra]. Before he left, he told me to drop by his office for a meeting. We met and rehearsed a few scenes together. Every week, he would print out a scene from his movies and give it to me. I would learn it, do the scene with him and then he would give his inputs. My sister [Khushi] told me that I was sleep talking the lines from Karan sir’s movies. I think it was Kajol mam’s lines from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. These sessions were like my auditions. He was trying to gauge my acting capabilities.
What was your reaction when you bagged Dhadak?
I haven’t told this to anyone, I cried in my room because it felt like everything I wanted in my life was happening. Dhadak is like a dream come true.
Have you prepared yourself to be compared to your mother?
No one can be prepared for it. I am her daughter, we share similar personality traits and physical attributes. I am not trying to escape any comparisons with her. Even if I have an ounce of her talent, it will be a big deal for me. Having said that, I am a different person with varied life experiences, and I want to be given that freedom to prove myself and create a space in people’s hearts that is my own. I have a sense of responsibility towards the people who admire my family’s work and I want to make them happy. Hopefully, I’ll be able to carve my own identity along with it.
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Janhvi Kapoor on how her mother Sridevi inspired her