Shahid Kapoor is and isn't the movie star you expect to meet. His clothes have that careful air of designer scruffy (read transatlantically crumpled tee with low crotch pants). The actor is currently giving the razor a rest and is sporting nerdy glasses. We meet in the rather unglamorous locale inside a vanity van turned display area for his recently launched brand Skult. The actor saunters in, doles out a quick handshake that turns into a hug, and sprints to one of the stools in the van.
Yes, this is what Shahid Kapoor the heartthrob is really like. Shockingly, weirdly, almost off-puttingly accessible. Once you get past the thick layers of security and coterie and peel back all your expectations, fed by years of tabloid coverage, you meet a guy who's friendly, a bit tired and exceedingly pleasant.
In person Shahid is the antithesis of the self-absorbed, pretentious actor. He appears much younger than his 35 years and carries himself with a humility that is refreshing, becoming animated and passionate when discussing his greatest love: daughter Misha. “It’s amazing how much a baby can effect you in such a strong way. She surprises me every single day. I have always been a workaholic. I used to hate staying at home. If I wasn’t working, I’d be at the gym, watching a movie or be out with friends, because I used to live alone and would feel lonely. Although I liked being on my own, there was too much of it. But this is the first time I don’t feel like working at all. I don’t like leaving home. I can spend the whole day at home with Misha and Mira,” he says with that trademark boyish grin. Shahid is off his paternity break of five months and is back to work. In case you missed the catch, Misha is the result of half part Mira (Mi) and half of Shahid's (Sha) names.
love being a part of films which are different, challenging and exciting. It’s the combined journey of being an actor and a star. You don’t want to call yourself one of the two.
Actor for the masses and the classes
Shahid is currently riding the biggest wave of his life. And we are not talking of his recent fatherhood. His movies too are grabbing eyeballs. Shahid first caught the eye of audiences and critics in Ishq Vishq. Here was an urbane, sophisticated hero, who can let loose a one-liner, or deadly kick in the blink of one eye, while winking at us, the audience, with the other. His cat-like grace and steely intensity made him retain a strong following of fans in the years to come. And just when everybody thought that he had settled in light fluffy roles where he’d chat with the heroine and then cut into a song ,came Vishal Bhardwaj's Kaminey where he left everyone stunned with his metamorphosis and venomous performance. Next came the hard-hitting Haider and now Udta Punjab.
Some duds notwithstanding (read Mausam, Teri Meri Kahaani and the unbearable Shaandaar) Shahid went on to carve a unique and prolific filmography over the next 13 years. His immediate release is Vishal Bhardwaj's Rangoon, a romantic drama set during World War II, co-starring Saif Ali Khan and Kangana Ranaut. But the foremost thing on Shahid's mind these days is the film he’s slated to shoot for - Sanjay Leela Bhansali's magnum opus Padmavati where he’s cast as Rawal Ratan Singh. The film also features Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone.
Despite winning critical acclaim and box office success (not to mention the promise of a National award for Udta Punjab) Shahid shows no signs of stopping or slowing down for a second. “I love being a part of films which are different, challenging and exciting. It’s the combined journey of being an actor and a star. You don’t want to call yourself one of the two.” Of all the characters he’s played, the aggressive and angst ridden Haider he believes was the most complex of them all. “Some characters require you to just be natural and charming. Some require you to have a physical transformation, but you can still perform them in and around yourself. Then you have characters which are very complex in the mind and those are the characters which are the most difficult to portray. Haider was that kind of a character.”
Apart from Haider, the role of Tommy Singh in Udta Punjab was the most strenuous for the actor. “We shot the film for 30 days and I had fever for most part of it. I used to train for three hours a day without food. I remember shooting the last scene next to the airport. As soon as I was done with the shot I looked around and I could see a plane waiting on the tarmac. I just wanted to hop on to that plane and take off. I was so relieved that it was over.”
Full of surprises
Shahid is one actor who never ceases to surprise you. At a time when prosthetics is the name of the game, Shahid went bald for just a day of shoot in Haider. He stayed jobless for four months after that to grow his hair back. “Haider is a film that deserved your blood. In this context it deserved my hair.”
He shocked the nation again when he settled for an arranged marriage with the Delhi based Mira Rajput. “I had reached a point where I wanted to settle down. I think I was a bit lonely. And I was happy to meet someone who was not from the same space that I was from.” The age gap too raised eyebrows. He was 34 and she was 20. “Mira is very endearing, honest and extremely lovable. She reminds me of everything that is normal and simple which becomes difficult to hold on to as an actor.” Quiz him about his state of mind and he says, “I am content and happy. I don’t have a sense of fear, but there is a sense of excitement or nervousness.”
Some characters require you to just be natural and charming. Some require you to have a physical transformation, but you can still perform them in and around yourself. Then you have characters which are very complex in the mind and those are the characters which are the most difficult to portray. Haider was that kind of a character.
While most actors toil as anonymous walking coat hangers, Shahid elevates casual chic to a next level. He’s just as sharp on the street as he is on the red carpet. Chiseled to boyish perfection, he carries a sharp suit or tuxedo as effortlessly as a hoodie. The guy looks well turned out even in his shorts and tees! But that wasn’t always the case says the actor who has recently launched his own fashion brand Skult, available exclusively on abof.com. “I was a fashion victim 10 years back. I had absolutely no idea about what to wear or where to buy. I didn't have any knowledge of Google or social media where you could discover what's going on. I would wear bright T-shirts, tight jeans and boots, and thought it was cool. So, it's been a long journey. In the last 2-3 years, I understood a little bit about style and wanted to express myself in the fashion line,” reveals the coffee addict who is never afraid to take risks and loves playing with his look. “I usually dress for comfort and that’s why you will mostly see me in shorts, track pants, hoodies, etc.”
Socially awkward and shy, Shahid insists he is still learning. The lithe, cat-like grace is still there, as is the charm, easy laugh, and ten thousand watt smile that has been captivating the movie-going world for nearly 14 years.
Mira is very endearing, honest and extremely lovable. She reminds me of everything that is normal and simple which becomes difficult to hold on to as an actor.
“It’s a very important time in life and I want to do everything right.” That’s shouldn’t be too difficult for an actor blessed with the looks of a matinee idol and the soul of an artiste.
STILL MORE SHAHID
I am: Simple, moody, homely and romantic.
Being an actor: can be extremely demanding, and can take a toll on your confidence, energy levels and your perception of yourself. I love it but it’s a tough job.
I want to: Do at least one crazy film every year.
The most insane character I have ever played: Tommy from Udta Punjab was very extreme and intense. As an actor I had to make people like him and relate to him even though he was absolutely obnoxious.
Heroines I want to work with: Katrina, Deepika… all I haven’t shared screen space with.
Advice to young daddies: Learn how to change nappies and survive on very little sleep. Be helpful cause no matter how much you do, it will be very little compared to what your wife is doing.
Go to person for advice: Mira my wife.
Films I wish were offered to me: So many of them… Bajirao Mastani, all the Munnabhai films, Barfi…
Biggest put off in a woman: The way she smells.
My fashion mantra: It’s cool to dress down. As an actor you always dress up but I like to dress simple and fit in when I am not on the sets. Loud jumpy colour is not a man thing.
Style Icon: I love the way Mr Bachchan dresses. He is always stylish and a man of all seasons.
Guilty pleasure: Online shopping. I spend a lot of time online, trying out lesser known brands and materials. I like experimenting. If it doesn’t fit me I get it altered, cut off the sleeve…I play around.
I am addicted to: Coffee and music. I can drink up to eight to ten cups of coffee a day. I buy gourmet coffee from across the world, but my favourite brand is Davidoff.
Luxury to me is: Being happy.
Being bald: I loved it. The feeling of water falling straight on your head was so awesome and relaxing. I wanted to stay bald for a while but I couldn’t.
Foodie Facts: I am a die-hard Punjabi boy who loves his rajma chawal. I also love chaat, samosas and bhajiyas. When I am out riding my bike at night, I gorge on vada pav. All said and done nothing can beat ghar ka khana.
Fitness Fundas: I am a vegetarian and thrive on nutritious food like beans, spinach, fruits and fresh vegetables. I meet my protein requirement through whey protein and other supplements. I fuel my body with several small meals a day, so that my energy levels don’t dip. I try and avoid food that is dense in fat or carbs, but that isn’t always easy.
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