MUMBAI: As an actor, the only thing he stays away from is monotony. With nearly two decades behind him, Shahid Kapoor seeks newness, challenges and a great emotional and psychological journey with every character he chooses to play. The actor gears up for three outings this year, starting with Jersey, which has him playing a doting dad. Shahid spoke to BT about second chances, drawing parallels between his reel and real roles and more. Excerpts:
In your previous interview with BT, you had mentioned how deeply you had connected with the Telugu version of Jersey featuring Nani and why you wanted people to end 2021 or begin 2022 with your version of the film. It must have been heartbreaking to move the release at the nth hour?
We waited two years to release the film. As heartbreaking as it was, I don’t think it was prudent to release a film at a time when the mood of the people was about choosing health over entertainment. It was the right call. We thought we were two-three weeks ahead of the curve, but we weren’t. It just surged so quickly; Mumbai peaked on January 12. The numbers spiked. You don’t want to put out a family film at a time when people are not sure about stepping out. This is a film for the family. My last film, Kabir Singh, was technically an adult film, but the number of people who have liked it and watched it with their families is unbelievable. Somehow, it made it to the family space despite being edgy and aggressive.
Jersey is a family film because it has those emotions that you have to experience with family and friends. Pure emotions are what we have experienced in the last two years from close quarters. It takes you back to the fundamentals of relationships and the basics of life. I have a lot of love for this film, not just because it is my film but because it did something to me when I saw the original.
It gave me a sense of hope and this drive to never give up, regardless of circumstances. You can get up today to chase something you really want. This is the spirit of this film and I connected deeply with that. If the emotions are strong and visceral, after going through whatever they have in the last two years, people will feel it and it will give them that boost that they all want right now.
You said that deeply Jersey impacted you. What was it about the script that struck a chord with you?
It is a unique film – it’s many things put into one. It’s not a sports drama. It is not about a cricketer trying to make a comeback either. It’s said that either you are living life or you feel alive. We go through these phases. There are times when you don’t feel excited, driven or motivated. You’re just living your life, without feeling connected with it.
You need something to chase and feel alive – whether it’s to do with your children and their future, your own passions or a goal you set for yourself. You have to find a goal and say that I want to do something about where I am today in life. That is what Jersey is all about, with the backdrop of cricket. We have chosen a sport as the backdrop, but the film is about what happens when you make that choice and decide that you want to feel alive.
Apart from connecting with Jersey at a personal level, did you connect with the father-child relationship in the film?
It was more with my daughter Misha at that point in time, Zain was way younger. So, the parallel I had here was with my daughter. That protective feeling, living your life through them, seeing them grow and being there for them…. whatever happens in your life, you don’t want to let that affect them because you want their mind and heart to remain pure. When I saw the original, I felt it was extremely inspiring. It makes you feel motivated and elevated. You feel ki main apne bacche ki nazron mein khud ko ek katra bhi kam nahi hone de sakta… It all begins as a self-oriented journey of trying to prove what you are capable of as an artiste, but with time, you realise that it’s nothing if you don’t represent it. As a parent, you have to represent all that you want your child to work towards and inculcate. You have to lead by example; otherwise, if you say one thing and practice another, you create your child’s first contradiction. It’s not fair to them.
In the film, Mrunal and you play a married couple whose marital relationship is strained. How did you navigate that space?
Everything is an insight. What you experience is an insight for what you go and play on the screen. But you don’t have to draw direct parallels or parallels that are simplistic. When there is a strain in any relationship and it affects things, you will understand it and see the repercussions, too.
The beauty of the reel relationship between Mrunal and me is how we were and what we became. When people see the film, they will understand how valid Mrunal’s character’s point of view is. I completely buy it. While she is more practical, Arjun is the one chasing a dream beyond the existential and mundane. When you do that (chase your dreams), it can give you momentum for years to come. At an emotional level, that’s where the line between the reel and the real gets blurred for me.