Shahid Kapoor is riding high with the success of PADMAAVAT. He is garnering accolades for his performance in the lately released PADMAAVAT where he essayed the role of royal Maharawal Ratan Singh. However, when Shahid was offered the film, the actor felt he was underdog in front of Deepika and Ranveer, who play Padmaavati & Khilji respectively, as his role was mild and not too glorified cinematography wise. This was indeed one of the toughest decisions in Shahid’s career, playing a powerful role in front of two powerful actors. Yet the actor played the role with élan and he is elated with the response.
In conversation with Shahid as he speaks about playing an ‘underdog’ in the author-backed film and still shinning with compliments as he shares the best compliment he received and why was he in shock. Besides, the actor also said that if he would have played Khilji in PADMAAVAT, he would have done it differently.
Excerpts from the interview:
Congratulations the film has been appreciated how does it feel?
Phew! Relieved firstly as with this entire chaos we didn’t know when will the film even release, or if it will? This was one of the most shocking phase in my life, we didn’t know what has happened and what will happen. We just wanted the film to release.
What made you take the role of ‘Maharana’?
I have been working for 15 years now, during which I have mostly done mainstream solo hero films. But when I said yes to PADMAAVAT, I felt like an underdog for the first time because I knew that out of the three roles; mine, though it was a good part was the least author-backed. I remember when I met Sanjay sir, he told me, ‘Shahid, I can’t do this film if you say no to it because I need all the three characters to be of a certain type. If you don’t do this, I don’t know how I will make this film because I need the love story to work and I need a hero in the film as I have a very strong anti-hero.’ I told him, ‘sir, I am at a certain stage in my career, so, do you feel I should do this film?’ He said, ‘I wouldn’t have come to you had I not believed (that you should do this film)’. I instantly said yes, and didn’t even hear the script.
How did you prepare for this role and your takeaway from this character?
Ratan Singh was one of the most serious and sorted Maharaja, and I had to be in the character for which I researched a lot. I wouldn’t talk about my role when I was filming for the PADMAAVAT. He was a man of few words with gala of emotions. There are so many roles that I have done I past, some I want to forget and some I don’t but this is certainly one of the most memorable roles in my career which I wouldn’t want to forget ever, this role has taught me patience, this is such a novel and good character. Rana listens to his wife and in real life too I listen to my wife (smiles).There is a reason I feel this role is relevant in today’s time as I felt that message should go out to people who see the film, especially youngsters. They should walk out with the feeling of wanting to be that person. I felt this was definitely something that was really important. Maybe, it’s due to the fact that I have become a father, so I feel that these qualities need to be highlighted. Had I been a single guy, I might not have been able to connect with that character. Today, I feel that emotion and that sense of responsibility as well. I would watch Dilip Kumar’s roles to get into the mode of the character Dilip sahib’s performances were like Bible in my head. I feel if I hadn’t seen that performance at that time, maybe, I would have not known what to do. It was Godsend. I learnt how to give power to dignity because it is difficult to be powerful when you are silent and show varied emotions just with your eyes’ expressions. I needed to achieve those things for Rawal Ratan Singh to reach out to the audience because he is the quietest of the three characters. Secondly and most importantly, he was the least known of the three characters. So, a lot of things that even you don’t know need to be communicated or else, you will not be able to experience the person, and it will just be a character. I felt very responsible about that.
How you feel now that PADMAAVAT is churning more than 100 crores at BO?
This is not just my film, or Deepika or Ranveer’s its Sanjay Sir’s film he is a visionary, he had a certain goals a mission with the film and we are glad it has crossed 100 crore, there was a phase where we were just praying for it to release, I am sad that still it hasn’t released in some parts and I still don’t know why! Right now, I just feel relaxed and very thankful. I feel emotional because it was a very long journey and a huge challenge, especially when you take a risk and then wait for a year-and-a-half. It’s a defining moment in one’s career. At one level, I feel really proud of myself but when I look back sometimes, I also feel, ‘arrey, you did this (laughs)’. Today, people are talking about opening collections etc. but I feel in a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film, he is the actual hero. The film is not a success because of a certain actor. Sanjay sir has taken every actor, who has worked with him, 10 steps ahead because of the kind of cinema he makes and the way he mounts his heroes and the kind of dedication he puts in. So, he is the hero and I feel very fortunate that he chose to take me in his film. I want Misha to watch the film when she grows up.
How was the camaraderie between the three of you while filming?
We all would be in our characters and rehearsing and working hard, I was happy with my role and we would simply be in our zone and work on our characters.
Do you think you would have played Khilji better than Ranveer Singh?
In ‘Koffee With Karan’ Ranveer said he would have done KAMINEY better than me. I didn’t say anything to him while we were filming PADMAAVAT, but yes I would have done Khilji in a different way. Every actor has a way of performing certain characters in that sense I say I could have done it differently.
What was the biggest compliment you received for PADMAAVAT?
Mira gave me a big hug and that’s more than enough for me, the biggest compliment for me.
It’s your 15th year in Bollywood. How do you look at it?
I honestly feel I have had the kind of journey wherein God has blessed me to keep learning. Life is not squash wherein you know when the ball will come front. Life is like game of tennis when you don’t know where the ball is coming from. I have made some terrible decision in the past and my fans have been kind enough to love and appreciate me for the same. My some films did well, some didn’t but my fans gave me that opportunity to excel. I am happy that I am a student and I keep learning.’ God has always given me a different exam. I have never given the same exam twice or thrice, which means the kind of roles starting from JAB WE MET and KAMINEY that I have played or the kind of genres that I have experimented with. Barring the first 4-5 years of my career when I was quite repetitive, I have had different exams. And due to ‘different exams’, I have been able to learn so much and the fact that my career has been multidimensional has made me a more experienced actor.
You are set to team up with your JAB WE MET (2007) director, Imtiaz Ali after more than a decade can you elaborate about the film?
Yes, besides BATTI GUL METER CHALU, I am also doing a film with Imtiaz. We are getting back after 10 years and I am quite nervous about working with him. There is a huge responsibility as the expectations of audience has been set higher now.
Has Misha come on the sets of PADMAAVAT?
Oh yes, (laughs), In fact I remember an incident Mira and Misha had come to the shooting Misha saw me in beard and then without beard and for two hours she failed to recognize me and I was shocked was traumatized , she also believes that everyone’s dad comes in magazines when she sees my pics in magazine she says ‘papa’.