Our man in Mumbai, DEVANSH PATEL, meets one of India's most versatile and venomous actors for an exclusive interview about his latest project
IF YOU had met Shahid Kapoor about 10 years ago, he would have come across as funny, strange - perhaps a little skinny. Today, he may still be curious as to why so many women find him so attractive.
As I type out a few tweets before heading to his Andheri residence, I get a few back from girls, sending their wishes and messages. He certainly has very loyal fans, but there is no denying he has earned them the hard way.
In person, Shahid looks every inch the film star; a toned, somewhat rangy alpha male who parries questions with an easy twang. And yet on screen there can sometimes be something low-key, even anonymous, about him.
Kaminey is a film which many of his well-wishers think is one he will find difficult to surpass. What they may not realise is that the film was just the start of there being an element of madness in method acting.
But the actor is quick to answer, 'They haven't seen Mausam'.
Waiting for me in his apartment, Shahid looks relaxed in his dark blue checked shirt and denims. His stubble makes him look as if he has just returned from a prison break and his attitude makes him look like one hell of an actor who steals the show, come what may.
Is this early interview an indication of Shahid Kapoor's soon-to-come mesmeric performance in Mausam? Whatever the answer, Shahid Kapoor is poised to steal the scene.
DEVANSH PATEL: Mausam did require your complete dedication, didn't it? SHAHID KAPOOR: Yes, and that is why I was told by my father, the director of the film too, to give my heart and soul to Mausam, as the principal characters - played by me and Sonam - travel 12 years through the film. He very specifically told me, 'I don't want you to do anything else while shooting for Mausam'. He waited six months for me to complete other projects and then decided to start the shoot.
DP: You have four different looks in the film. SK: Right - the first look is of an airforce pilot is just one of them.
It will be wrong for me to say that I cannot surpass any of my previous
performances, especially Kaminey. All characters I portray in films are different and cannot be compared.
I've done lots of film and some performances are very close to my heart. Mausam is again a special film for me. How successful it is, time will tell.
We've tried to keep Mausam as commercial as it should be because it is an expensive film and has taken a year of my life. Yes, it will be released on a large scale.
DP: Why can't we make films like Hollywood does?
SK: Hollywood has mastered the art of making great films that can connect with any audience. We still need to learn that.
We can work harder. Our biggest struggle is that we have an extremely varied audience. A country like the US speaks the same language; there isn't any cultural difference.
India has so much cultural variety and so many languages, that it becomes difficult for us to cater to each one of them. That is why the word 'commercial' means something that can connect to the entire nation.
DP: Love story is one genre that India has thrived on for its success, isn't it?
SK: Love is a universal emotion and that's why the biggest hits our country has given on screen are love stories. It connects to one and all.
National pride, too, is a universal emotion. That's why films like Lagaan, Rang De Basanti and Chak De India work. We just need to learn the art of how to do it. There are few people who have learned that art and are successful today in our industry.
DP: Why promote your film a good couple of months early?
SK: Mausam starts in 1992 and ends in 2003. It is spread over 12 years and it is not a period film.
The agenda to release the first look quite early was for many reasons. I play an airforce officer and we never wanted to confuse the audience that it's a war film. It is a love story. The love story starts when the boy and girl are 17 years of age and it goes on till they are in their thirties.
You will see an adolescent and a mature love story too.
**Watch this space for part two of Dev's interview with Shahid Kapoor.