The first thing that strikes me about Harshvardhan Kapoor is how open he is about his life, choices, and thoughts. He speaks his mind, much like his elder sister, Sonam. It could also be because he’s a debutant (his first film is the upcoming Mirzya, directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra), untouched by the cynicism that comes with being a B-Town veteran. Over the course of our chat, one thing is clear, this newbie wants to do cinema that matches his sensibilities and doesn’t compromise on his beliefs. Here are a few excerpts…
How is a Mirzya different from the debut films of a Ranbir Kapoor or a Varun Dhawan’s?
When Mehra narrated Gulzar’s script to me, I realised that I was getting a chance to be a part of something so poetic, and beautiful, which also suits my personality. Also, I felt Mehra was correct when he said that I was right for the cinematic world that he built up in terms of my facial and physical characteristics. I feel that when you tell a story with honesty in your heart and mind, you work hard and your intentions are good, that will somewhere connect with the audience.
Your father’s and your own sensibility towards films are very different. How do you guys converse about films?
I think my dad’s sensibilities keep changing over time. So does everybody else’s. We both look for certain things. I think he looks more for things that constantly keep you engaged. I look for moments that linger, that grow and that seep into you and make you think about the film three or four days after. I particularly enjoy the kind of film which leave you a little bewildered and later you are like, ‘Oh, that was interesting!’
Is there any film that has left a solid impression on you?
There is a film called Badlands starring Martin Sheen, directed by Terrence Malick. I love Malick’s films because he tells stories visually. Dialogue is only used when it has to be. Otherwise, a lot of films tend to get very talky. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing; it’s a great thing for films that require that.
But I am saying it’s an audio-visual medium. Today, when you have Netflix, and torrents, you have to entice the audience to go and watch the film on the big screen and have an audio-visual experience. I feel, Malick does that. A lot of people might not like it, but I do. For me, beautiful imagery and music and those things keep me involved and I can feel an emotional story through that. Mirzya’s way of telling a story is very similar, very visual and musical.
How much will you rely on your dad’s advice when it comes to picking films?
As an actor, everybody has a different heart and mind. For example, you might read a scene and I might read a scene and my instincts will be different in terms of how I would like to play the scene. And your first instinct when you read something, only happens once. Immediately after that, it gets contributions from a lot of thoughts, by a lot of insecurities, preconceived notions and so, when it comes to creativity, I never listen to anybody. First, I’d like to read something and react to it my way and after I’ve done it, show it to people I trust. But that first instinct is normally the right one. I can’t tell you how many times in Bhavesh Joshi or Mirzya, I have done something for the first time, tried around four takes and gone back to the first take. I think it’s a common thing with a lot of actors because then, you start thinking. Then, that’s not necessarily always a good thing. (ALSO READ: Hey Shahid Kapoor, you have a new fan in Harshvardhan Kapoor!)
Your reaction when someone says, ‘How can Anil’s son and Boney’s nephew not make his debut in a masala film?’
I think it’s fantastic. It’s one thing to sit here and say you know I want to do this kind of film, but to actually go out there and do it and put your neck on the line, to do those characters that we all aspire to do… to actually get down to doing it, it takes your life. Mirzya and Bhavesh Joshi are both those kinds of films. When you see Mirzya, it’ll all be worth it. I think it’s a great place to be. It’s scary. Because I can’t promise anybody only commercials.
How are you handling the pre-release jitters?
In terms of creative expectations, I am not stressed because I have immense confidence in what we have achieved. It took a lot of hard work and dedication, time and patience and rejection. But when I watch myself in the film, I am happy and if my director is happy as well, that’s a good sign.
Name a contemporary actor whose work you’ve admired over the last few years.
Ranbir Kapoor. Also, if you ask me to name an actor whose filmography I would like to have, there is nobody. But I would like a couple of films from actors’ filmographies. Like Barfi! from Ranbir, Delhi Belly from Imran, I see myself there. Ditto with Ranveer Singh in Lootera, Abhay Deol in Dev.D and Abhishek Bachchan in Delhi-6.
Any films this year you wish you had done?
I would have liked to play Shahid Kapoor’s character in Udta Punjab. Or Fawad Khan’s character in Kapoor & Sons. I think Shahid was outstanding in Udta Punjab, please tell him that!
Has anybody told you that you resemble Dev Patel from The Lion?
I get Andrew Garfield a lot.
Your dad has worked with Tom Cruise and Danny Boyle, do you see yourself working in a Hollywood project ?
I would like to have some success locally first. But my whole trip in life is to tell Indian stories because there are so many and they all deserve to be told. And I don’t think I see myself spending too much time there to be completely honest with you, although I love it. I feel very good and comfortable to be home, I love the people here.
What advice has your cousin Arjun given you on Mirzya?
He has only seen the trailers so far. His advice was that we should have put out more of the story. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. We have a certain way of marketing the film. Whether it pays off or not, I don’t know. But I think he likes the trailers, he just wants to know more. (ALSO READ – Mirzya music review: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy give their most powerful score for Harshvardhan Kapoor and Saiyami Kher’s debut flick!)
What is your strategy about handling the attention that is going to come your way in terms of your personal life, who you are dating, seen with, etc.?
I don’t think anyone is interested in my personal life. I don’t have a girlfriend. I have not had a serious girlfriend for a very long time. I have been making Mirzya for three years. I didn’t have the time.
Going with the ‘I am focusing on my work right now’ cliche?
No. If I meet a girl and fall in love, my priorities might change. I am very open to it and anything in life, really. But I like the single thing. It’s fun. I get to do my films properly. If I meet a girl where I feel like okay it can’t really get better than this, let’s go with it, I might do fewer films, might buy a small house somewhere in Goa.
Would you ever date an actress?
Hundred per cent! Why not? They are beautiful, they are talented, you share common interests. Why would I not date one? They do the same thing as you, so they understand why you may not be able to reply to their messages and take their calls immediately. So…
But over dinner, won’t you both be discussing work?
Not necessarily. Once you have confidence in each other and you are into each other, the conversations open up.
Who have you had a crush on over the years?
I have had my share of poster girls. Priyanka Chopra, for sure. We have a personal friendship and all. So PC is my number one locally and then abroad, would be there are so many incredible women. There is a model called Kelly Gale. I think she has a boyfriend. She is Swedish-Australian and half-Indian, too! I think she is, right now, one of the most beautiful women in the world. And Saiyami Kher is the most beautiful actress in Bollywood right now.
Are you consciously staying away from hardcore commercial films?
Mirzya is completely ready for release. Bhavesh Joshi is half-ready. I am doing a third film, which I cannot talk about it. I have indulged myself to a certain extent with my first three choices. After that, I will see where I am in terms of my career, because I am an honest and practical person. If I feel I need to do a film where I need to reach a slightly wide audience, if my first three films fail to do so and if I can’t make it, maybe they will. Or maybe I won’t need to, maybe I’ll do one Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani or even an Aashiqui 2. That is as far as I want to go. I can see myself in a Yeh Jawaani…
What is your take on screen nudity?
I am dying to do nudity. I would love to do it. How can we have censorship over it? We are artists and we need to tell our stories in the best way possible. If I am playing a guy who is being tortured, I am not being naked to show off my body, I am being naked because people are tortured in that state. If you cut that scene, how will we make the film?
A four-star review, box-office figures, your dad’s compliment or Mehra’s pat on the back. On release day, what would make you the happiest?
The four-star review. I’ll tell you why, because Mehra and I have had many of those pat-on-the-back moments already. I am sure once the film releases, we’ll have more. Dad has seen the film, so I have had that. Also, the box-office figures are beyond our control. It comes down to so many things. I am an actor and am not in control of those things.
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