In an industry fuelled with nepotism and star power, he is one of the few men standing tall, majorly on their own accord. Many would mistakenly judge him by his father, the veteran and highly talented actor Pankaj Kapur’s name, few know that Shahid had to hit the cross roads to make an identity of his own in the tinsel town which was then ruled only by the Khans and the Bachchans. From the vulnerable and shy teenager of ‘Ishq Vishk’to the mature and effervescent military officer from ‘Mausam’, Shahid is now as strong as a consort battleship. While ‘Jab We Met’ made him a star overnight and helped him undergo the shell of metamorphosis quickly, ‘Kaminey’ catapulted this handsome hunk to phenomenal heights. Today, after a highly spoken about break-up and a host of alleged link-ups, Shahid has maintained his dignity and grace effortlessly. Possibly the most under-rated and under-utilized actors of Gen-X, Shahid has the capability to make it huge in the industry, provided his directors put his talent to effective use. There is an instant aura about him, something special about the disarming candour that he dons, which can make anybody and everybody smile whenever they meet this 31-year younger actor.
U dare call him old and you are killed! LOL
In this free willing tete-a-tete with the dashing superstar, we discover the little secrets about his personal life, his equations with co-star Priyanka Chopra and most notably, his next project, ‘Teri Meri Kahaani’.
Intially when you made your foray, you were type casted and stereotyped as the guy with chocolate boy looks, but then with time you have evaluated yourself quite well and finally evolved as an actor. The metamorphosis has been astounding over the past eight-nine years. What brought in the changes in Shahid, the actor and the human being?
Actually when you get down to doing what you wanted to do before you started doing movies and doing the kind of films that you are genuinely passionate about rather than trying to do everything that you feel is successful is when you start discovering yourself as an actor. Only post the discovery as an actor, you can try and create a library of films for yourself based on what you feel you are really passionate about and good at. There are so many different kinds of actors, so many different kinds of stars who all had their own journey, their own appeal towards the audiences. You cannot compare it. Henceforth, in the beginning everybody tries to do a little bit of everything, a little based on what they are excited about and a little on what people tell them they should be doing. For me, I guess I told myself four to five years back that I would only do films that I believe in. Whether they are successful or whether they are not, the thing that has happened is that somewhere my passion and faith for the films have shown, eventually that’s the most important for an actor because success and failure would keep coming and going. Consistency, a sense of commitment and a sense of passion and trying to do something new is very essential. I am still discovering myself amd I have finally found that space where I do films that I am excited about, regardless of any other factors.
Your last film was ‘Mausam’ which did not work well at the box office but it brought you a lot of critical acclaim. What was your reaction to the film?
I somehow feel very dissatisfied whenever I look back at Mausam. For me, at the end of the day a film that is being accepted is a good film and a film that is not accepted somewhere has some flaws for which it didn’t get accepted. So that is something which everybody needs to learn to accept and I am no different. I accept such things very humbly and fast because it helps you to move on and gives you a practical view on what you think went right or wrong. Otherwise if you are emotional about something, you cannot ever have a practical pragmatic view beyond a point which I think isn’t healthy. The only thing that I don’t feel good about Mausam was that everybody put in two years of their lives into the film. It is by far the film that I worked the hardest on. Forget me, I was just one of the many people, but there were so many people who worked so hard that I wish God had given them a little more appreciation and recognition. People did put in a lot for the film, including my father who probably put in the most. But apart from that, I always smile when I think of Mausam because I got to work under my father which was one thing that I always craved for. There was so much that I could learn from him and what I have gained as an actor in the two years of working with him is priceless. I got to spend two years with my family who were practically together all the time. Honestly, I was working since I was 22 so I used to very rarely get some time with my family. That is why I would still smile!
Then again, after Mausam, you signed up an amazingly refreshing film titled ‘Teri Meri Kahaani’, that is spanned over three Eras. What made you believe in such a script?
When I and Kunal were meeting, I knew Kunal is somebody who is very good with love stories. He had done Fanaa and Hum Tum and I enjoyed both the films a lot. Some of my most successful films have been love stories. So we met up to see what we can do together and over a cup of coffee, he just told me one line. He said, “you know Shahid, hum log Hindustan mein jab shaadi karte hai toh log kehte hai saat janmo ka saath hoga isliye saat phere lete hai. But we have never really seen a film where you capture two or three lifetimes of the same two people in different Eras in different times. I told him that it was a really interesting idea but I don’t want to do a dark film or a serious film. Reincarnation most of the times goes into the darker phase. He instead wanted to have a fun, exciting, quirky take on three Eras, three different love stories, three different characters. For me, it was really a very new idea and I have never really seen a film like that. I have seen films like Love Actually where you see different characters, different love stories culminating simultaneously. But this was a very exciting take and the fact that he wanted to make it light and breezy caught my eyes even more. It is also interesting to turn a concept which is always seen in a certain way over and over again and give it a new twist. Then he developed the characters and came to me. The characters were not what I had expected. These things could really surprise you, me or anyone. To me, its always good when you get surprised because at least its new, its different.
Previously you nailed it with a double role in Kaminey and here you play not just one or two but three different characters. How challenging was it for you?
Yes, absolutely. It is always exciting to do such a film but it is also scary that you don’t want to get it wrong. But I think Kunal had written all the characters differently from each other, obviously because it is three different Eras. It is not easier like Charlie in Kaminey where it was two twin brothers. So it was more challenging to do that. But this is more exciting. The word challenging isn’t right. I would rather call it an exciting experience. One needed to find that fine balance in keeping everything different but yet keeping them fun. That was my approach towards the film and Kunal has done a lot of hard work and written everything so differently that it became easier for me.
Kunal also told that in the first part of the film that is the 1910 Era, you play Javed, a Muslim poet who specializes in shayari. How difficult was it for you?
Well he is not a poet. He is a complete lafantar and a good for nothing actually. The only time he turns into a poet is when he sees pretty girls. His only agenda to do poetry is to get the women to do, you know what! (Laughs out loud) Coming to the shayari bit, I had seen Fanaa and I am a huge Aamir Khan fan. I had watched him doing the shayari so well that I told Kunal ki ‘yaar teri film thi, he had done it so well that I wish I don’t end up making a fool of myself.’ Kunal told me that we would get through it and it will be exciting. Now that I look back, whatever people have seen in the promos, most people are reacting to the shayari used in the film. So that is what I feel very happy about. I am not somebody who does shayari in real life. It’s a little unnatural to me, but it was interesting doing it. I think because the character is from 1910 and because he is little bit of a flirt, he is just using it to impress the girls and to line marofy girls. It was his version of a pick up line. That’s how I saw it. Of all the roles that I have done, I think the character of Javed is the most massy role I have done till date.
It is always very interesting to work with a good actor opposite you and Priyanka really is a very good actress. Moreover we share a very good chemistry. It usually turns out well and this time, it was no different. Yes, we have a lot more to do this time. We almost have ten times the number of scenes together compared to Kaminey and so there is a lot more to offer to the audience. Plus this is the first time we are doing a more commercial, mainstream love story as opposed to Kaminey which had a very edgy take. So its totally different from what we have done in the past. I think its only better when people who are appreciated come together to do something more different and challenging! I am looking forward to see how people react to that!
There is this song trailer titled Mukhtasar which is beautifully shot. What makes it even more interesting is that it was kind of an impromptu jig by you and Priyanka. Tell us about it.
When you shoot a film abroad, its become boring now to see big locations, to see the mountains, the scrapers, all of it is done now. The concept of the song was to show the chemistry between two people who bump into each other spend the whole night partying together. So what was important was to see how they connect and their sparkling chemistry. The audience should think whether they want these two people to hook up or like each other. It was rather very brave on Ahmed’s part to focus on that because being a choreographer he would have definitely liked to show the locations but he restricted himself from doing so. He focused only on the two characters. Moreover since it is a clubby track, people would have expected both of us to dance but he had other plans. He just asked us to be in shoes of the character and enjoy ourselves which was a lot more relatable.
The trailer has released worldwide and has already set tongues wagging all over. What are your expectations from the film?
I don’t know yaar! I am happy with the way the film has turned out. It’s a very entertaining film, its light, and breezy, all the three Eras are looking fresh and very new. Then both I and Priyanka are playing three different characters for the film. So its very interesting to see how people associate with all of them. In fact all over my Twitter timeline, people know the name of my different characters and they have started calling me by different names. It has hardly been ten days into the promotion of the film and the television promos started just about a week back and people already know a lot about the film and its characters. To me, that’s fantastic. So I am very excited because it’s a fun film and I have one of the fun films coming after a long time in my career graph. So lets see what it has in store for us!
Are you single?
Well I am absolutely single. So, all the hot girls out there can contact me. (Laughs out loud)