MUMBAI—He is the new generation from the second Kapoor family of showbiz: father Anil Kapoor has been around as hero for 36 years, sister Sonam Kapoor for 11, and his grandfather Surinder Kapoor, uncles Boney Kapoor and Sanjay Kapoor, aunts Sattee Shourie and Sridevi, cousin Arjun Kapoor and sis Rhea Kapoor were or are all in films, apart from cousins Omkar Kapoor and Mohit Marwah. Cousin Jhanvi Kapoor is also all set to come into films now. What’s more, they all are distantly related to the senior, more celebrated, THE Kapoor clan.
And yet Harshvardhan Kapoor is different, so outré in approach that only he could have started out with something as art-house as “Mirzya,” which naturally was a disaster. Kapoor understands why it flopped, and took all the lessons from it, but would still like to do “sensible” cinema even if in the commercial or horror zones.
A conversation conducted at the office of director and co-producer Vikramaditya Motwane on the eve of the release of his film “Bhavesh Joshi Superhero” finds the youngster begin most of his answers with a “So…” and end them with a “…Yeah!”
Excerpts from an interview:
Q: What was your understanding of a super-hero film that is not a “Batman” or a “Krrish?”
A: So (Get the picture?) the concept is that we have a superhero within all of us and that we live in a corrupt society wherein people openly go against the law, from small things like skipping a red light, to spitting or littering. If you can live life with honesty, courage and bravery in such a world, then you are a superhero. It is not easy to do the right thing, for you have to stand up for it, and you may offend people who are corrupt by doing so.
Having said this, let me also tell you that Batman is my favorite superhero because he is human, his issues are relatable, and he can get hurt or die. Yeah! (Yes, by now you got it; so we will skip these two words henceforth!)
Q: So this is more of a vigilante film.
A: Essentially, yes. And vigilantes are created from unresolved conflicts of society, and they go beyond the justice system when it is broken or is not transparent.
Q: Do you personally subscribe to this?
A (Shakes his head): I do not think that it is the correct thing to do because there is a justice system in place, but sometimes it is the only way. Here, it is connected with a larger overall theme. Like with “Rang De Basanti,” it is about the quote ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.” Though the heroes break the law finally, this thought is very beautiful and comes from an honest and sincere heart.
Q: The obvious question next: why are you clashing with “Veerey Di Wedding,” which is like your family picture, so to speak?
A: So (!!) initially we were to come on May 25, but for several commercial and creative reasons, the two studios got together and decided on this date. Also, we could not release my film with biggies like “Race 3” or “Sanju.” And our two films can co-exist, as they are of different genres. Besides, ours is a small movie, not a 100 crore film that needs 3000 screens, so we are fine with around 800 or 850 screens.
Q: The film was planned in 2013. So what were the changes incorporated since?
A: “Bhavesh Joshi…” was in Vikram’s head. The script was reworked completely after the change of government. The conflicts are very relevant today. And a lot of things in the country, however, have not changed, as they cannot be fixed overnight, because there have been a lot of wrong decisions taken by a series of governments over the years.
Q: Isn’t the public also to be blamed? Your own statement about red lights and spitting shows that.
A (Nods) It is a combination of both. But if I live my life honestly, someone may follow me, and very soon it will become a movement.
Q: You lived with your co-star who plays your friend for two months in a small apartment to ‘feel’ your character. How important is it to internalize a character, physically or otherwise, so much?
A: I think that for me the external aspect and the emotional preparation go hand-in-hand. For example, if I am riding a horse and shooting with a bow in Rajasthan, and have the right hair, make-up and costumes, I start believing in the character of Mirzya and in that world at the moment. Obviously, it is not possible to completely break off from your roots, because I have led a privileged life at home. But everyone has problems. I may have first-world issues, whereas the guy in Dharavi has day-to-day problems.
Q: How easy is it to switch off afterwards?
A: Like heartbreak after your first love, with “Mirzya” it took a lot of time. With later heartbreaks, you learn more easily to move on! Besides, Bhavesh Joshi is a lad who was more contemporary, like me, and he lived in Mumbai.
Q: Have you reflected on the failure of “Mirzya” and its reasons?
A: I love the film and find it beautiful. But I do not deny that it was completely art-house, though I got to work with one of the finest writers in Gulzar-sir and directors in Rakeysh (Omprakash Mehra)-sir. Indian films tend to be dialogue-heavy, and things need to be explained. “Mirzya” was visually beautiful but relied on silences. It ended up being abstract.”
Q: What about “Bhavesh Joshi?”
A: In that sense, it is a purely commercial film. It has action, comedy, romance and music, but it is real and relatable. In that sense, it is a word-of-mouth film and not a first-weekend movie. But I want the film to work because it will make things easy for me to do the kind of movies I want to do. I have now studied screenplay, audience likes and dislikes and the ‘do’s’ and don’ts.
Q: Are you modeling your career along your father’s lines, where he initially mixed offbeat with mainstream films?
A: My father did all kinds of movies, and he knew his craft so well that he did not have to be convinced about a character. I haven’t reached that level yet, and maybe I will open up with time. Today, I cannot fake it and have to be completely convinced about the story and my role.
Q: But you do one film at a time. Your father could develop as an actor, and his range could be noticed quickly by doing six films together. For example, he did “Ram Lakhan,” “Eeshwar” and “Parinda” in the same year.
A (Nods): Yes, but things are different today than in my father’s time. I prepped for “Mirzya” for 18 months and shot for 90 days, and shot for “Bhavesh Joshi…” for 80 days after prepping for 45 days. I am learning shooting with an air-rifle for “Bindra,” which is my next film now.
Q: And you are working with him in it.
A: Yes, I am happy to work with my father in “Bindra,” and would love to do a film with Sonam as well. In fact, I would love a script like a family film with all three of us. I would also love to do relatable horror film, a straight-faced, witty comedy and light films. I am exhausted after my first two intense movies, and I think I will be dead by the time I am done with “Bindra,” which is the biopic of businessman and Olympic air-rifle shooter Abhinav Bindra!