Shahid Kapoor

Shahid Kapoor will next be seen in and as “Kabir Singh,” the Hindi remake of South hit “Arjun Reddy.” He told India-West that he loved the original film, but once he accepted the film, he forgot Arjun Reddy and decided to make the individual called Kabir Singh by building him up mentally, internally. (photo provided)

MUMBAI—The lovable college student of “Ishq Vishq” (2003) has come of age. Shahid Kapoor, whose track-record is a mix of a few successes in “Jab We Met,” “Vivah,” “36 China Town” and “R…Rajkumar” and acclaimed performances in commercial under-performers like “Kaminey,” “Haider,” “Udta Punjab” and “Batti Gul Meter Shuru” is now set to do something “completely satisfying.” And what is that? It is reprising the South hit “Arjun Reddy” in and as “Kabir Singh.”

Kapoor waxes eloquent on the film and his role in our 16-minute encounter at the J.W. Marriott.

Excerpts from an interview:

Q: You are playing a doctor for the first time and a collegian for the second.

A: Yes, and I was s**t scared of playing a college student at 38, that too, 16 years after “Ishq Vishq.” What if my kids say, “Dad, where was the need to do THIS at 38?” But I guess if you are comfortable with a role, you should do it, whether the character is as old as you, younger or older,

As a doctor, though I have watched many and seen how they behave, all that is externalizing a character. I prefer to internalize my characters, go deep into their psyche after discussions with the director, and I love doing something I have never experienced before.

Of course, there are limits to this as well. I cannot murder someone if I am playing a murderer, and I will not touch alcohol if I have to portray someone who drinks!

Q: What did you like about “Arjun Reddy?”

A: I loved “Arjun Reddy.” The script had great potential, and I liked the real, raw, unapologetic tonality. The film did not shy away from emotions like love, angst, depression and darkness or even from its beautiful moments. I am surprised at how much I enjoyed the film as it was a complete experience.

But once I accepted the film, I forgot “Arjun Reddy” and decided to make the individual called Kabir Singh by building him up mentally, internally. I even put on weight for one portion of the film. The process continued when we began to shoot – as you meet the character more and more, you know him more and more. It’s like any growing relationship. It was tiring, intense, with all the aggressive moments, lots of heartbreak and also the passionate moments,

Q: Why do deviant characters attract you?

A: Gray is like taking some adrenalin shot, and mundane is not exciting. The flawed characters and how they come across is the experience that people connect to all along. Otherwise, why would Amitabh Bachchan’s angry young man connect with everyone? Why do we consider Robert De Niro or Al Pacino as great actors? Why is “Maqbool” my father Pankaj Kapur’s most memorable film? In movies, you want to see what you can’t do or be in real life. And filmmaking is about the craft of filmmaking and acting. The more complex it is, the more you are appreciated. Like if you play cricket well on a bad pitch, it is more remarkable.

Q: How do you get such characters out of your system after internalizing them?

A: My children help me, and while traveling back in my car, I completely disconnect. The normal atmosphere at home is helpful as it rejuvenates me.

Q: Arising from that, you have a huge fan following among children, and yet you do many films they cannot possibly watch.

A: You want me to make films only for 10-year-olds? I don’t even think so far. I take up any film I like. If kids love me, let them grow up and then watch my films! (Grins)

Q: Prabhas called you and said that you were better than the original actor.

A: I was pleasantly surprised when he called because I am such a big fan of his. He just said that he loved my performance and what he saw of the film.

Q: What next?

A: I don’t know what I am doing next.

Q: And how was the experience of being at Prime Minister Modi’s swearing-in?

A: It was wonderful, and such an honor.

Q: It’s your anniversary early next month. What are your plans?

A: You want me to spoil Mira’s surprise? (Grins)

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