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'Jahnvi has a unique energy about her'

July 17, 2018 16:42 IST

'We spent a lot of time together during the prep.'
'So by the time we went on the sets of Dhadak, it felt like being on the sets with your best friend.'
'On the sets, we were having too good a time.'
'We were having so much fun that I was worried if we were getting the work done or not.'

IMAGE: Ishaan Khatter and Janhvi Kapoor in Dhadak.

Janhvi Kapoor and Ishaan Khatter share an incredible rapport off screen.

During the promotional interviews for Dhadak, Janhvi hijacked Ishaan's interview, and asked him a few of her own questions.

There was a lot of banter as the media watched wide-eyed:

Janhvi: I have a few questions for you.

Ishaan: Shoot. She doesn't need to shoot me to kill me... Ankhiyon se goli maare.

Janhvi: How blessed do you feel working with Janhvi Kapoor?

Ishaan: There was a day when I woke up and realised that I had to pinch myself since I was going to work with Majid Majidi.

Then, when I realised I was going to work with you, that surpassed it.

Arey iske baad toh main kaam karna chod dunga, ab toh mujhe kuch karne ki zaroorat bhi nahi hai (after this, I can quit working; there's no need for me to work after this).

Janhvi: So this is your Oscar performance?

Ishaan: What Oscar?

Janhvi: I am his Oscar.

Ishaan: Iske saamne mat kahiye, she will ask kaun hai ye Oscar?

Janhvi: Flop joke.

Journalist: You two get along so well. Was it a chilled out atmosphere on the set?

Ishaan: It was not chilled out. Jazbaat kuch jyada hi the (there were too many emotions).

Janhvi: Five compliments you want to give Janhvi Kapoor.

Ishaan: She has a unique energy about her, a whacky sense of humour, uskey sunhere chehere ke jo baal (points to her cheek) woh bahut kamal ke hai (the hair on her golden face is amazing).

Janhvi: I am not liking these compliments. Is tarah ke compliment nahi chalengey... kya facial hair ke baare me baat kar rahe ho? (These kinds of compliments won't do. Are you talking about facial hair?

One more question. What is your favourite memory of doing a scene with me?

Ishaan: I can only think of one scene: When I jumped into the water.

Janhvi: But that's about you; it needs to be about me.

Ishaan: Main 30 foot neeche kuvve main kudda sirf tumhare liye (I jumped into a 30-feet deep well for you).

The only reason I could do that was because she was sitting there.

If she hadn't been there, perhaps I would have looked at the scene too technically and overthought it.

But because she was there, I could fall. That shot is a literal metaphor of falling in love.

After Janhvi's questions get over, the media takes over.

Rediff.com's Patcy N turns on her recorder.

 

IMAGE: Ishaan Khatter in Dhadak.

Did you watch Sairat?

Just before watching Sairat, Shashank (Khaitan, director) told me he wanted to make this film in Hindi.

When I watched it, I was bowled over.

After the climax, it takes a lot of time to get out of it.

After that, when Shashank spoke to me, I realised it's a huge responsibility to remake a film that has been appreciated so well.

We were very inspired. The intention was not to make a better film than Sairat or even as good as it. 

It's just that this story is as relevant in Rajasthan as it is in Maharashtra.

The idea was to make a film that was inspired by Sairat, and make it available to a larger audience.

So I never felt intimidated or dwarfed by Sairat.

How did you play your character differently from Sairat?

This is an adaptation of Sairat<./p>

Two youth from Karmada, Maharashtra, are very different from two youth from Udaipur, Rajasthan.

The idea was never to mimic or ape their performance.

It was to make an honest film of our own.

Unlike Parshya and Archi in Sairat, the identity of these characters is invested in the fact that they are from Udaipur in our film.

If you go to Udaipur, even the locals from the lower middle class have a certain air about them. They are very proud of their heritage and history.

I think that seeped right into us. We became very attached to Udaipur. There are a lot of dimensions that are new in this film.

IMAGE: Janhvi and Ishaan in Dhadak.

What are you expecting from the film: Critical acclaim or box office glory?

I don't think of either of these things.

I just hope that we made a memorable film.

Obviously, it's important for a film to do well. But it's important to maintain a perspective.

Right now, the opinion is based on promos. There's a lot of positivity and at the same time, there are a lot of trolls.

There are a lot of people who disregard the film, as they are very protective of Sairat.

It is important to maintain perspective.

I am happy that people are appreciating the work.

We have put our heart and soul into this and it is a very honest effort.

We did not associate with the word 'pressure' while making the film. We made it with a lot of innocence.

Now, we realise how largely anticipated the film is, and how many people are waiting to watch it and judge it.

You came from a Majid Majidi set to a Dhadak set, and you carry a lot of expectations.
Tell us about your personal journey as well: you played a street smart person there while here, there's a lot of innocence.

Shashank knew me even before I started working in Beyond The Clouds. He hadn't seen anything of me until we finished shooting Dhadak.

I think that was a very interesting act of destiny. He was supposed to see it sooner, when the screenings were happening, but he missed them. So he saw them only after we finished shooting.

He approached me with a neutral view, and that was meant to be.

Shashank is a very self-assured man, and it was a very liberal environment on the sets.

Nobody expected things just because I had done Majid sir's film before.

I almost worked as if it was my first film.

I feel I have learnt a lot on the sets of Beyond The Clouds and it will be a life-long learning for me.

It really sets the tone for one's craft, if I can say that.

Beyond The Clouds did not do well at the box office.

Every film has its own destiny.

I think of Beyond The Clouds very fondly.

Yes, it has not been seen by a lot of people in theatres. I had anticipated more people would watch it.

But that has to do with something I don't know well: Marketing. A lot of people didn't even know that it was a Hindi film.

I think Beyond The Clouds will be viewed by more people on the digital medium.

IMAGE: Shahid Kapoor and Ishaan Khatter. Photograph: Kind Courtesy Ishaan Khatter/Instagram

There will be a lot comparisons with your brother Shahid Kapoor. Are you worried?

No. I've already had a lot of comparisons and that's the audience's prerogative. I can't say anything about that.

Do you discuss your work with Shahid?

I discuss everything.

I think he chooses to stay out of my work ever since I have started working. He has not given me any advice directly.

With Beyond The Clouds, he left me on my own and didn't say anything till he saw the film.

I think he was nervous -- he told someone, 'If i is really good, I would be very emotional and if it is bad, I would get depressed.'

When he saw the film, he was very happy. It was a very rewarding day. He went home and said some kind things.

With regard to Dhadak, he only said one thing: 'Get really good with the language and be well prepared.'

What was his reaction after watching the trailer of Dhadak?

His reaction was very generic; he said, 'everything is good.' I am still waiting for him to watch the film.

IMAGE: Neelima Azeem, Ishaan Khatter, Shahid Kapoor and Mira Rajput. Photograph: Kind Courtesy Ishaan Khatter/Instagram

His daughter Misha will be two in August and you will become a chacha again.

Misha has prepared me for the chacha's life.

I am excited, ready to do whatever it takes to be Chacha No 1.

Shiamak Davar said you are better than Shahid and that you will be the next superstar.

First of all, I cannot compare myself to my brother. He has taught me so much.

Having said that, Shiamak Davar is far too kind. He tells me he's proud of my choices.

IMAGE: Ishaan Khatter and his mum Neelima Azim. Photograph: Kind Courtesy Ishaan Khatter/Instagram

Your parents Neelima Azeem and Rajesh Khatter are actors. Did they encourage you to take up acting?

I have stayed with my mother throughout my growing years; she has been the consistent factor in my life.

She has a strong influence on me. She has never encouraged nor discouraged me from being an actor.

She realised much later that I wanted to do this and she encouraged me. But she did not plant the seed in my head.

After Standard 8, I started doing badly in academics.

She thought I was just flaky, and was concerned. Then, she realised I wanted to move in this direction and learn about cinema.

After I started working, my father was glad that I was learning.

You look very confident. Where does this confidence come from?

I have always been passionate about it; always tried to learn by watching films.

I have always put myself out there. I did not want to formally train as an actor, but I did a theatre course. I trained as a dancer.

I assisted on two films (Udta Punjab and Half Widow). I explored any opportunity I got. Slowly, I overcame a lot of inhibitions.

I don't feel scared or nervous about going on the sets. I feel excited.

IMAGE: Ishaan and Janhvi in Dhadak. Photograph: Kind Courtesy Ishaan Khatter/Instagram

What are your inhibitions?

I am still discovering them as a performer.

Like, on the sets, having come from a very different kind of film, there were moments where Shashank thought I was performing in a subtle manner.

One day, he shouted,'Ishaan, ham.'

Later, he told me every situation should be seen in context.

A boy, who is born and raised in Udaipur, who has had a certain kind of upbringing, who has grown up on 1990s films, watching Amitji (Amitabh Bachchan) and Sallu bhai (Salman Khan), and he will have a certain flamboyant way about himself when he is trying to be cool.

It is very different from the boy, who is raised in the slums of Mumbai, who doesn't care for cinema and who has had to fend for himself from a very young age.

Janhvi returned to the Dhadak shoot barely 10 days after her mother passed away. Was it difficult to keep up the performance?

I won't say too much because it's a personal topic.

It was not difficult at all. She was very professional and showed great strength.

IMAGE: Ishaan and Janhvi in Dhadak.

In Beyond The Clouds, you shared the screen with Malavika Mohanan. Here, you are working with Janhvi. How different was the experience?

Malavika has done three films before; this was her first Hindi film.

I got to know her on the sets because she was cast much after I was.

With Janhvi, we spent a lot of time together during the prep.

We went to Rajasthan with Shashank. We got to derive a lot of our characterisation from those trips when we went for the recce.

We spent about seven-eight days in Jaipur and Udaipur each time.

So by the time we went on the sets of Dhadak, it felt like being on the sets with your best friend.

During Beyond The Clouds, we had all surrendered to Majid sir's vision, and we were all like students. It was a very sacred environment.

On the Dhadak sets, we were having too good a time. It was in stark contrast.

We were having so much fun that I was worried if we were getting the work done or not. Shashank was very chilled out.

Some anecdotes from the Dhadak shoot.

Janhvi and me would play pranks on the others. Since we were familiar with Udaipur, we would get around.

One day, before we started the principal photography of the film, we got up at 5:30 am and broke down the door of Shridhar and Ankit's room -- they play my best friends in the film -- and jumped on their bed!

Shridhar is like an elderly man; he is 39. Ankit is our age. They were both traumatised.

They were in their kachas and they went and put on their pants. Then, we showed them around Udaipur like we were locals.

Patcy N / Rediff.com