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'My mom painted such a colourful world'

July 13, 2018 10:02 IST

'I think my mom's fear came from the fact that I would be compared to her.'
'She was worried about the comparisons because she would say, "I have done 400 films and this is your first, but they will compare you to my 400 films".'

IMAGE: Janhvi Kapoor in Dhadak.

Janhvi Kapoor has a fine sense of humour.

At a media interaction, when journalists introduce themselves to her one by one, she says, "I feel like a school teacher."

Then, she continues with a straight face, "Okay, everyone is 'present'."

The Janhvi Patcy N saw at the trailer launch of Dhadak -- her first-ever interaction with the media for her film -- is very different from the one sitting in front of me during the interview.

Then, she seemed shy, and not confident about addressing the media. She had a lump in her throat when she was asked about her famous mother who died so unexpectedly barely four months earlier.

The one in front of me is confident and witty, and speaks about her mother at length, without any difficulty handling her emotions.

She teases her co-star Ishaan Khatter with abandon, and quizzes him about herself. He humours her, and answers, until finally, she has to be firmly escorted out so that he can start his own interview.

Patcy comes away impressed with the 21 year old on the cusp of fame.

 

It doesn't look like you are nervous.

Oh, it doesn't? Maybe I am a good actor! (laughs)

Is the limelight overwhelming?

Yes. But the aim is to remain positive.

It is important to remember that the only reason I am getting this kind of attention is because of mom and dad. I am aware of that fact.

And now, because of Dhadak.

When we were making the film, we were removed from this noise.

We were just trying to tell an honest story and living and creating the moment.

It was a very sacred environment.

I wasn't thinking about Janhvi Kapoor. I was thinking of Parthavi (her character in Dhadak).

Was handling the media difficult?

Yes. But a huge chunk of the film was shot outdoors, and away from all that.

Although I am very thankful and flattered to have this kind of attention, I know I have done nothing to deserve it.

Hopefully, people will appreciate the film enough for me to feel that I have earned a little bit of it.

But as of now, I know I can't take it too seriously.

IMAGE: Janhvi with her mother. Photograph: Kind courtesy Sridevi/Instagram

You have a great sense of humour.

My mom and dad are both funny, so I get it from them.

Sridevi was very calm and composed during her interviews. What are you like?

After two-three interviews, my filter goes and I start talking crap! (laughs)

I feel I don't have anything to say other than 'Please watch my film on July 20'.

I feel I haven't earned the right to speak about myself so much, so it is weird to see and talk so much about myself all of a sudden. And then reading that stuff is a little unnerving.

But if it will help get attention for the film, I am ready to do it.

When you told your mother that you wanted to be an actor, what was that conversation like?

There were a lot of sounds, like 'Aiyyo kadavuley! (Oh God!)'

But I think she knew that yeh keeda hai beechari main (laughs).

Did you ever imitate your mother's style of acting?

I don't think anyone can imitate anything of hers. But she left an impact on me.

I have seen her on the sets of English Vinglish and Mom. I would see her work.

Just to see her make that switch from being my mom, and yelling at me, to an actor and giving her next shot -- in one second! -- I think that was the first time I realised there is something very special about her.

I haven't seen a lot of her films; it is hard for me to watch her films.

I remember watching Chaalbaaz at one point and they were very mean to Anju's character in it. So I could not watch it.

I loved watching Sadma because she made Kamalji (Haasan) cry! (laughs)

At the Toronto Film Festival, I was clenching my nails and watching English Vinglish because her daughter in the film was so rude to her.

IMAGE: Janhvi Kapoor with her mother. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com

Was your mother's biggest worry that you were getting it easy while she had to struggle a lot?

I think there is a misconception. Maybe I am getting the opportunity easily, but acting is not easy.

I think her fear came from the fact that I would be compared to her.

She was worried about the comparisons because she would say, 'I have done 400 films and this is your first, but they will compare you to my 400 films.'

She was scared about that.

But I would say, 'I love acting Mama. I will work hard, I promise.'

I had a vey naïve and idealistic outlook, but now, I am beginning to understand that some people do make comparisons and do have expectations.

But the thing is that mom has been given so much love, adulation and respect even now because she earned it.

She gave the audience so much that she deserves this kind of love.

So I feel a sense of responsibility towards her fans. I want to make them happy. I want to earn the same kind of love.

I know I need to work hard for it, but it motivates me.

Did your mother ever speak about her struggle?

My bedtime stories were all about her shoots.

She told me funny stories.

Mom's struggle was never to prove herself because she started as a child artist.

So, her stories were like, I had 103 degrees fever, but I was dancing in the rain, my co-star was burping but I had to pretend to be in love with him...

She painted such a colourful world.

What was the second career option she suggested to you?

When I was a kid, she really wanted me to become a doctor.

I would tell her, 'Sorry, mom, but I don't have the intellect.'

I would tell her that I will become an actress and play a doctor! (laughs)

IMAGE: Janhvi with her sister Khushi and her parents. Photograph: Pradeep Bandekar

What did your father Boney Kapoor say about your decision to become an actor?

He was very chilled out. My father is a typical Kapoor; he is bindaas.

He is very supportive. I think he eased mom into the idea.

He convinced her because he was very happy.

I think he was excited that I chose to prove myself and do something with my life.

My mom always said she worked hard because she wanted her children to have it easy.

I think I wanted a fulfilling life and that meant much more.

I don't think I will be satisfied if I just lived off on what my parents gave me.

They have worked very hard to get where they are.

People sometimes underestimate how hard being a producer or an actor can be.

I understand there are important issues like people fighting a war and saving lives, but you cannot compare the two.

It's not a 9 to 5 job; it's a certain lifestyle to be in this profession.

When you were preparing for your big debut, Karan Johar was involved in discussions about nepotism. What impact did it have on you?

I understand the debate, but nepotism exists in every industry.

I understand why some people feel robbed of opportunities and think I have had it relatively easier.

I value this opportunity. I am unbelievably lucky.

I don't know what I have done right in which lifetime to get an opportunity like this.

It would be wrong if I took advantage of what I have -- if I was complacent and if I had acted like it is my birthright to be here.

But I will not. I want to work hard and prove myself.

I want to work harder for those people who think that I have robbed them of an opportunity.

It's unfair to think, even for a second, that I belong here -- no one does, unless you make your own place.

I am sure there are people who are much better looking than me and more talented than me, but the point is, why should I sacrifice this opportunity that has been given to me just because there might be other people?

I will give it my everything.

I am in love with this craft and this profession.

I want to entertain people and I want to move people with my work.

Did Sridevi want Sairat to be your debut film?

Both of us saw the film and discussed about how it was a great journey for an actor to be part of a film like this.

It is a great role and a great story.

She wanted me to have a creative experience, like the one in Sairat.

Virtually your entire Kapoor family (barring three cousins) is into acting. Whom would you like to share the screen with someday?

Even though she is not an actress, I really want to work with Anshula didi (her elder sister Anshula Kapoor).

IMAGE: Janhvi and Ishaan Khatter in Dhadak.

Was there any emotionally tough scene in Dhadak?

Emotional scenes are easier for me than the lighter scenes, I don't know why. Maybe because I became more familiar as the shooting progressed.

I realised I was having more fun exploring the situation in the second half than in the first.

The emotionally challenging scenes were fun for Ishaan and me. He has more finesse as an actor.

I think I was in love with Madhukar Bagla (Ishaan's character). So there was a genuine sense of attachment.

Your character is totally different from Archie, the character in the original Marathi film. What were your inputs?

Archie is from Solapur in Maharashtra. Parthavi is from Udaipur. Her upbringing is different from Archie's.

Their worlds are completely different.

The way they speak is different, the choices they make are different.

I think Archie is bolder and her strength is apparent in her physicality also.

Parthavi has a silent sort of strength. She is very similar to my sister Khushi, in the way that she doesn't show her emotions.

She acts like she doesn't care, but deep down, she does.

I am very different from the character I play.

I am very sensitive. If I am emotional about something, I become a wreck.

IMAGE: Janhvi and Ishaan in Dhadak.

You were not comfortable in Hindi earlier, but now you are fluent in the language.

It is so important, as an artist and as a person, to keep growing and learning. I value that above all else.

I don't appreciate people who get stagnant.

I don't appreciate being complacent at all.

I need to keep moving, learning, growing, experiencing.

It is so important to know Hindi.

Youngsters, these days, think they are speaking in Hindi, but it is not Hindi. It is a mix between Hindi and Urdu.

You understand so much about your culture and your roots by knowing your language.

Are you nervous that Dhadak may not work?

It will still be the most cherished experience of my life because I got to learn so much.

I think I have grown playing this character, learning from her journey, meeting people like Shashank (Khaitan, director), Ishaan and Karan.

It is something I will always cherish regardless of the outcome.

I want people to appreciate my work, so that I can continue doing work.

I am dying to be on a set again.

Patcy N / Rediff.com