As an actor, he has had his share of hits and flops but two things that one cannot question about Shahid Kapoor is his love for his craft and his popularity amongst the audience. He played a college student in his first film ‘Ishq Vishk’ (2003) and sixteen years later, he plays a college student again in his new film ‘Kabir Singh’. In this interview, the actor talks about the challenge of playing characters like Kabir Singh and Tommy Singh when you are a teetotaller, why playing complex characters excite him, playing a college student at 38 and more.
You are a teetotaller in real life. How do you, then, play characters like Tommy Singh and Kabir Singh?
Well, it is quite a challenging thing to do. When you have never done something yourself and try to do show it on screen, it takes a lot of work to internalise it. I have observed people being drunk and doing weird things but that is more of an external thing.
And, how do you take these characters out of your system?
My children help me do that. When I am with them, I cannot have an iota of the angst and darkness these characters have. Because of my children, I had to learn to completely disconnect from these characters and let go of them.
You are very popular among the children. When you do a ‘Kaminey’, ‘Udta Punjab’ or a ‘Kabir Singh’, do you fear getting alienated from your younger fans?
You want me to make films only for ten year olds? (laughs) I think the audience loves to see flawed chracters. We have seen Mr. Bachchan playing the angry young men in films and ‘Devdas’ is such an iconic character. Who you are and who your alter ego is are two different things. Sometimes, it is your alter ego that comes alive on the screen. Mundane characters are not as exciting to play as the ones which push you to challenge yourself both as an actor and a human being. The more complex the art form, the more you appreciate it.
‘Kabir Singh’ is an official remake of ‘Arjun Reddy’. How similar are the two films?
I watched ‘Arjun Reddy’ after signing ‘Kabir Singh’. I thought the character had a lot of potential. It was raw, real and unapologetic. I liked the tonality of the filmmaker and his vision. The film did not shy away from exploring the dark moments or the light moments. It showed everything in an uninhibited manner. I am an Arjun Reddy fan. I loved what I saw but once I started working on ‘Kabir Singh’, the film went out of my head. There are no massive changes as such as the same director has made the two films.
Reportedly, you are doing a film on bike racing.
Unless I confirm, do not believe in any story that you hear about me. I have not signed anything so far. I am reading a few scripts but have not signed anything yet.
You played a college student in ‘Ishq Vishk’ and now sixteen years later, you are still playing a college student.
You know, I was very scared about this part. Ishaan, Mira and my children were like “bhool gaye kya, aap 38 ke ho”. It was a risk. But then, I loved the character a lot and I tried very hard to look the part. As actors, you feel the need to look younger. There is no denying that. I just feel if a character requires you to be younger, you have to be younger and if you are required to play an older character, you should be ready for that too.