Shahid Kapoor will be seen in a career-defining double role in Vishal Bhardwaj's Kaminey, and the actor is quite looking forward to its release this Friday. His double role characters Guddu and Charlie are contrasting, and give the actor scope to show up a wide range of acting skill.
Shahid talks to Patcy N about Kaminey, and his much-publicised chemistry with co-star Priyanka Chopra
In what way is Kaminey different from the films you have done so far?
Kaminey is the story of twins Charlie, who lisps, and Guddu, who stammers. It's an important film for me, as it's different from all those I've done all these years. It is the most difficult performance of my life so far. I'm playing a double role for the first time in my life. I am looking forward to the audience reaction when they watch the film.
'Stammering was tougher because that is also a psychological problem'
What is the film about?
Guddu is very innocent and is in love with Sweety [Priyanka Chopra]. Priyanka's elder brother Bhope Bhau [played by Amole Gupte] is against their marriage. Charlie and Guddu hate each other and have not met in years. Kaminey is the story of a day when they come face to face with each other.
What was tougher lisping or stammering?
Stammering is tougher because that is also a psychological problem. We met quite a few doctors to try and understand the problem. Stammering is more difficult to communicate onscreen; lisping is easier. [Director] Vishal [Bhardwaj] and I were very keen that we don't make caricatures of the characters. We wanted them to come across as very real people.
'Vishal wanted me to look different'
Tell us about your look in the film.
That was a big challenge for us. We were very clear that both characters should look different from how people have seen me in the past especially Charlie's character, who is more edgy out of the two. Vishal wanted me to look different. That's why my hair is longer and I have grown a stubble. I have a tanned look, and I worked out for a year. It was a challenge to achieve a different look and surprise the audience. Apart from that, since there was lot of speech defects in both the characters, we had to do background study to make it look as authentic as possible.
Who is more creatively satisfying playing Charlie or Guddu?
I don't think either of them is complete without each other because it is a double role. The beauty is that you see the contrast between the two. Without any one, I don't think the film would be complete.
To play Guddu's character was difficult because I had to stammer very convincingly.
'I thought Amole Gupte made a children's film so he will be a very sweet man'
How was is your on screen chemistry with Priyanka?
I think Guddu and Sweety's chracters were well written by Vishal Sir. I had great fun working on them. I think Priyanka is doing the best work of her career now after Fashion. We started together but she has done around 35 films and I have done around 12 films.
How was it working with Amole Gupte?
I was really surprised when I came to know that Amole Gupte is working in this film. I had loved Taare Zameen Par so I was surprised the writer of TZP will play the main villain in Kaminey. I thought he made a children's film so he will be a very sweet man but I was surprise to see that he is also a fabulous actor and he has done a really good job. After seeing the film, I think he was the best choice for the film.
'I really admire Vishal's work and also the work that he has done with my dad'
You know Vishal Bhardwaj because your father Pankaj Kapur has worked with him quite a bit?
Vishal and I met prior to Omkara. We were keen to do something together but unfortunately we could not work it out. I have seen all of Vishal's work with my father. I think they have done a brilliant job together. I think in Maqbool, dad's performance is probably one of the best performances I have seen in Indian cinema. I really admire Vishal's work and also the work that he has done with my dad. I was really happy when we got the opportunity to work together. Vishal gave me probably the most difficult role of my career yet, and totally different from what I have done in the past.
What was the funniest moment while shooting?
Priyanka is very proud of the fact that she can ride scooters very well. But she cannot ride them in the rainy season. In a shot when she was riding the scooter and I was right behind her, she just went and rammed it!
'I hope my audiences are not disappointed'
Omkara did wonders for Saif Ali Khan. Do you think Kaminey will do the same for you?
Omkara was a different film and this is very different. Everyone in Omkara was brilliant. Saif was exceptionally good. And I think that people will like me in this film. I don't know how successful I will be in this role, but I will be satisfied if I get recognition. I hope my audiences are not disappointed.
Did you think this was the right time to do an offbeat role?
Of course I think this was right time. If I was not capable I would have not done it. It is challenging and scary to try something other than what your audience is used to seeing you doing. You have to take risks. That's where interesting, good work comes from.
'I don't want my private life to become public'
In every film that you do, there are rumours of link-ups between your heroine and you.
This is exactly what I keep on asking myself; and you guys why do I get I linked up? I guess because I have been single for the last two years. I have not told anyone who I am dating, not that I am dating. But will you like it if I knock on your door and ask what is happening in your bedroom, your bathroom, in your life? You will not like because it is your private life; likewise, I don't want my private life to become public.
Does this help the publicity of the film?
I don't think that is true. The audience is smart. They don't think so and so is dating someone, so let's see their movie. The audience wants to watch a movie to get entertained. If having an affair or such link-ups had helped, all actors would want their film to work because of link-ups. Films work because they are good. I do films because I like my role, the story of the film and my director's work. People are inquisitive and therefore they want to know what is happening in my life. As I also had a public break-up [with Kareena Kapoor], people wrote lots of things about it. So people are curious to know who Shahid Kapoor is dating.
'My pairing with Amrita Rao was very good'
With whom do share the best onscreen chemistry?
I think it is the characters of the films which always work because sometimes the same pairing does not work in another film. If the character is good and the film is good, then I can do good work with any actress. I think my first film Ishq Vishq was very good and my pairing with Amrita Rao was very good. After that we were both good in Vivaah. In Jab We Met my chemistry with Kareena is what everyone liked. I hope people like my chemistry with Priyanka in Kaminey.
Kaminey got an 'adults only' certificate. Do you think it is an 'adult' film? How much of the film has been cut by the censors?
I was personally very surprised when it got an 'A' certificate because I thought it would get the U/A [parental guidance] certificate. I think I will be comfortable taking my family to watch this film. I think everybody can see this film. There is not much that has been cut other than some small things. But, yes, there have been problems with the certificate.
'I think if I do the same thing repeatedly, the audience will get bored'
Will you be doing darker roles now?
I have never tried to make any image for myself. It's just that my love stories have been better liked by people. This film is completely different from my regular films, therefore I am very excited. There is also a lot of anticipation as to how the audience will react. I think if I do the same thing repeatedly, the audience will get bored. So it is my duty to give them something different all the time. I will do things the audiences love seeing me do, but I will also try things differently once in a while to satisfy my creative hunger.
Kaminey's music is already making waves, especially the Dhan Ta Nan song.
I am happy with the reaction that the song has got. Yes, we have got a very positive reaction for the music. We are fortunate that we have Vishal Bhardwaj, who makes good music himself.