INTERVIEW | Not every successful film is good: Shahid Kapoor

Shahid Kapoor speaks to Shama Bhagat about making his OTT debut with Farzi, keeping his craft fresh, and why he refuses to chase box office numbers
A poster from 'Farzi'
A poster from 'Farzi'

What made you finally explore the OTT space with Farzi? Do you think it’s the next big thing for actors?
People seem to believe that it is the pandemic that made actors want to come on OTT, but Raj and DK (directors) had approached me with Farzi much earlier. I loved the idea and script and had asked them if they would turn it into a web series. They were surprised, wondering why would I want to do OTT after the success of Kabir Singh, but I love their work, especially The Family Man. Besides, I watch a lot of international shows and have always wanted to venture into the digital space. With OTT, you connect with the audience differently. You are also able to define the graph of the character in a more intense way.

In Farzi, you reunite with your Haider costar Kay Kay Menon, and also share screen space with Vijay Sethupathi and Amol Palekar for the first time. Any takeaways?
I like to work with Kay Kay Menon, even if I don’t have any dialogues in the scene. In Haider, we had some intense scenes together. Even in Farzi, though I do not share the screen with him for too long, those scenes are still my favourite. Acting is basically reacting—when an actor is performing so beautifully, you just have to react. With Vijay too, I don’t have many scenes as we are parallel leads, but I have seen his work and believe that he is a pure artiste. He presents himself differently in every role.I connect with that. I hope we get to do more work together. Amol sir as Nanu was the soul and integrity of the show.

After 20 years in the industry, how do you manage to bring newness to your craft?
I read a quote by Leonardo Di Caprio where he said he says no to a project if he understands the script and his character in the first read because that would mean that the role is in his comfort zone. He says yes only if he is unable to figure out how his character would play out, making it a challenge. Whether it turns out well or poorly is a secondary question. So, the freshness in acting comes from the choices we make, whether we are okay doing something that is not in our comfort zone. We become stale when we keep repeating ourselves. It might look successful, but it becomes formulaic in nature.

What is your idea of a successful film?
I don’t believe that every successful film is good. These days we are only talking about success in terms of box office numbers. Jersey didn’t do well at the box office, but I got to learn a lot more through the film than I did with Kabir Singh. We have to understand what is qualitative and that must be appreciated.

Do you think actors carry responsibility for a film’s success or failure?
I feel it is important for actors, who have been working for a decade or more, to take the responsibility of making quality choices and giving the audience better content. So if films are failing, we as a generation should take responsibility. It means that we are not doing the right work and need to update ourselves. It is important for the entire fraternity to come together to do better because there is no dearth of talent. We have been entertaining people for so many years; I believe it’s just a bad phase (for the industry) and we have to think constructively. The best of the players have also suffered, but it’s time we got back on our feet and started enjoying our work.

Do you think the success of Pathaan has changed things for Bollywood?
Definitely. The success of any film changes a lot for the industry.

Tell us about your future projects.
I have an action film with Ali Abbas Zaffar. I am also doing a film with Kriti Sanon.

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