MUMBAI: “All I want to do is good work. The privilege and the trolling in the social media and all of this secondary,” shares Janhvi Kapoor when asked how she’s dealing with the privilege she was gifted with and the fame she’s basking in. The actress is grounded, roots for good cinema, is willing to take risks and wants to pick up roles that resonate with her sensibilities and challenge her more as an actor. In an exclusive conversion with ETimes, the actress opens up on her upcoming film ‘Good Lucky Jerry’, revisits her four years in showbiz, speaks about handling social media and more.
When you announced the wrap of ‘Good Luck Jerry’ last year, you mentioned that you learned and unlearned a bunch of things from the film. What were your biggest takeaways?
You know, honestly, it was such a long time ago. But I think I learned to take risks. And I learned to believe in myself a little more, I learned that I don’t necessarily need to be so hard on myself to get the results that I think I want. And I think I just learned that there isn’t any set pattern in getting what you want to get. Art, especially acting, is all about living and growing and feeling emotions as honestly as possible.
What was your creative process, and the toughest part in exploring Jerry?
Well, I think learning Jerry’s accent was a challenge. She has a Bihari accent. And the dialect was a big part of trying to understand Jerry’s psyche, and also the fact that she’s doing something that isn’t morally right.
But she’s doing it for her family. So I think to not judge the character and to still make sure that she’s a protagonist and root for her, even though she’s doing something that’s essentially because of trying to find that balance and show that there’s humour without it ever feeling like she’s not actually in trouble. Finding the balance between all of these things, I think, was tough.
Your last outings have seen you delivering women centric roles – be it Gunjan Saxena, Ghost Stories, or Roohi for that matter. Has this been a conscious decision in choosing scripts?
Not really, I think I’m just choosing scripts on the basis of what will challenge me as an actor, what excites me as an actor, and I think all these roles were huge learning opportunities for me. And that’s why I picked them.
In a span of almost four years, you have managed to pull off varied roles that are cementing your identity. What’s your approach to building your career and enhancing your stardom?
I don’t know about the stardom and all of that, but just to be true to your craft, to grow, to take up challenges and to push yourself as an artist. That has and will be my approach, always.
How do you handle fame? A lot of the recognition and relevance which came to you, have somewhere been easy, if not smooth. Is it challenging to find your own self worth as an artist and not let the external factors and privileges label you?
I mean, honestly, like you said, a lot of the attention and recognition has come my way is, first and foremost, because of who my parents are. I think there’s a lot of clarity and identifying that and I’m not delusional, and thinking that I’ve earned all of it, or I deserve any of it even. But now I have it. And I think what I want to do with it is good work.
Because I love my job. And so the privilege and the trolling on social media and all of this is secondary. My main priority, and focus is to really hone my craft and give my work my all.
Do you consciously choose deglam rolees? Or do they just happen because a lot of actresses of your age and your contemporaries have many glamorous movies and roles?
I think my personality is different. Janhvi likes to dress up and wear cute clothes and click pictures. But I can do that on my social media. I can do that in my personal life. When I’m playing a character I want to be as true to the character as possible.
And it just so happens that I’m gravitating towards characters that come from these backgrounds and are living these lives. I can’t show up in hair and makeup, that would look stupid. So I’m separating the two and I’m playing the characters that I want to play. I think that if they want to see me dressed up they can open Instagram. Like occasionally I’ll do a song, but I don’t.
And if ever a role demands that of me, I’d be more than happy to do it. It just so happens that, so far the roles haven’t demanded that. I think Dhadak was one film where, again, it didn’t really demand that kind of chakachak-ness. But we took that call to take that route. And I think it was counterproductive. So I think I shy away from it a little too much now.
You’ve been vocal about handling negativity and trolls on social media pretty sportingly. But again at the same time, today social media validation has taken a centrestage especially for Gen Z. What has your approach been towards the same?
I think, to not take it seriously. Just to have a little fun with it. There’s so much you can do that is so interactive and so fun. And so creatively engaging, even like making reels and all of that stuff I think is a lot of fun.
Like when I open my profile, it’s like a diary, right? Or like, I went out today, I looked cute today… like it’s all fun, but I can’t get validation out of it. If I judged myself or my peers based on their social media, that’s a very hollow way of living, I think. It’s intangible. It’s not real, any of it, so you need to know that.
Film industry has also been known for survival of the fittest. And no matter where you belong, if you don’t reinvent yourself, you lose. How do you handle that pressure of being/staying relevant?
Well, I’m only four years into the industry. Agar 4 saal mein relevance hi khatam ho jaati hai, phir toh try hi nahi karna chahiye. But I don’t know. I actually haven’t thought of it. I just want to do good work. I think it’s important to stay relevant in your craft, to reinvent yourself and grow in your acting.
And I think to do that one should have new experiences in life. And stay grounded, I think. But that’s about it. Stay relevant in fashion, you have a stylist to stay relevant on social media. Hopefully, that isn’t that much of a priority to you when all that matters is your work.
Do you feel your peers and followers are yet to see the full extent of your prospects as an actor?
Oh, definitely. I’ve finished two whole films, Jerry and Mili that the audiences haven’t seen. I’m halfway through Bawaal, Mr. And Mrs. Mahi… So I think there’s a lot of work that no one has seen really. So hopefully, once they do, they take it a little more seriously than they do now.
Did the pandemic slow down your career?
Yes, It did. Gunjan Saxena would have been released in the theatres, had it not been the pandemic. I would have maybe signed a film or two more, I wouldn’t have had these many gaps. And more than the output of it, I think I just would have learned so much more because I would have gotten so much more time on set. But I mean, there were bigger things at play. There was so much suffering in the world, that I really couldn’t sit and cry about not spending time on the sets.
One piece of advice that you would give yourself when you first started out?
Just have fun. Because I trust myself to work hard. But I think someone should have told me to just have fun, and not take it too seriously.