A successful debut with Ishq Vishk, then duds (Fida and Shikhar), a rise again (Vivah, Jab We Met and Kaminey), followed by four years of flops, Shahid Kapoor is riding the high wave again. With R… Rajkumar and Haider, the actor seems to have understood well that the chocolate boy image never stays for long.
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And that lesson, Shahid says, was taught by Vishal Bhardwaj, who gave him a huge image makeover with the neo-noir Kaminey. “Having worked with him already, I had the trust that he would do something unconventional. So when he told me about a desi adaptation of Hamlet, I was not surprised. I took it as an opportunity to work with a filmmaker who has probably given me one of the best roles in my career and helped me discover myself as an actor,” he says.
The actor-director bonding is quite evident, which is not very common in Bollywood, but Shahid quips, “Arre yaar, I went bald for him. Who else is ready to do it for him?”
Talking about the power of unconventional films to pull in the audience, the actor says films like Barfi, Kahaani, Lagaan, Rang De Basanti, Kaminey and others are less in number which is the reason why the regular formula gets highlighted. “People like good films and they will be more than glad if they are given a fresh and different product. So, of course, a film like Haider is different from the regular, commercial stuff, but I have always found unconventional to be much cooler,” he says.
Shahid says he has fallen in love with Haider. “It is a revenge drama, where you see a lot of angst. It is about complex family dynamics, about a mother, son, brothers and lovers. The cast is a talented lot with Shraddha Kapoor, Tabu, Kay Kay Menon and Irrfan Khan. Playing the role did have a large impact, mentally and emotionally. But a lot of it melted in the environs of Kashmir. It is a unique experience to spend time there,” says the actor.
According to him, having shot in Kashmir gave an immense advantage in terms of Indiansing Hamlet into Haider. “Kashmir makes it completely relevant for the Indian audience. Adapting the classic Shakespearean lines was also done to perfection, with Vishal and Gulzar saab doing an amazing job. When acting for the film, I was just not thinking of Hamlet although I knew it is an adaptation. If you have seen Omkara and Maqbool, you can analyse how Vishal has Indianised Shakespeare in the past,” he says.
As the director tries to tune people into his kind of films, Shahid says all kinds of audiences are crucial to decide a film’s fate. “Everybody watches movies and we find different kinds of audiences at the theatres. Why should they be categorised for a particular film? I don’t have a kind because I am an actor. It is the filmmaker who has different kinds of scripts and I pick from them. For me, I want all kinds of audiences to watch my film,” says the actor.
Having been in the industry for 11 years, Shahid is clear about what he has to offer with his tales. According to him, the director is the captain and it is under his tutelage that the actor gets the opportunity to portray a character for the audience. “Trying to do good films and with good filmmakers is my job. If the filmmakers are offering the audiences a good experience, I would like to be part of those projects. I don’t take myself so seriously that this is what I have to offer. It is a wrong way of looking at filmmaking because it is a team process. So a lot depends on filmmakers. I don’t have a list of mandates to be in Bollywood. I go by their instincts, my heart and that’s what makes me happy,” he says.