Shahid Kapoor thinks his character in Kabir Singh has a complete emotional arc, something that he hasn’t got to play ever. The actor, who is all set to get into the shoes of Vijay Deverakonda in the Hindi remake of Telugu blockbuster Arjun Reddy, shares that he loves to play complex characters.
Kabir Singh has been directed by Sandeep Vanga, who also helmed the original. The Hindi remake stars Kiara Advani as its female lead, and has Shahid playing a doctor who turns alcoholic following a heartbreak.
Seeing its trailer many claimed that his Kabir Singh reminded them of Udta Punjab’s Tommy Singh and even films like Kaminey and Haider. Shahid, in an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com, revealed the difference and similarity in playing such intense characters, whom he calls his “alter ego” and why Kabir Singh is just like any other heartbroken man in real life.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
Do things become easy or difficult if you have a reference point for your character?
Much more difficult because it is the same director, and the first one did so well. So it becomes a lot more complicated, the choices that you make, because you can’t be irresponsible towards it and say I’ll make it different just for the heck of it. You can’t get enamoured by it and want to be similar, because then it wouldn’t be original. So you know, it becomes a very academic process to sit down and decide these are the traits of the character that are fundamental to the story. Now, you need to take those traits, and then you need to create a character that is original, and maybe bring a few more elements. It’s not as if you know that they will be there while playing the character, you sense them. And they become a part of that process. So it’s a lot more complex.
Comparisons are but obvious when you step into the mould of an existing character. What are your expectations?
I loved Vijay so you know if anybody says they loved Vijay, I feel happy because I felt the same. I can’t comment on my performance. So, let people decide what they feel.
Have you seen Arjun Reddy?
Of course, I have seen the film. That’s how I did this film. I saw the film and loved it. How do you decide you want to do a remake without really seeing it? You have to know what you are stepping into. And I guess the way it happened with me was that I connected with the film and the character.
Any specific preparations you did to become Kabir Singh?
I put on 8 kgs, grew a beard and a lot of hair. And then I lost 14 kgs, removed the beard and a lot of hair (laughs). But that was just the physical explanation of it. There is a lot more that goes on in the mind and the heart which can’t be explained. Every day you think about the character. But I am very organic in my process. It is not like I take a notepad and start making notes or shut myself in a room to get into the headspace of the character. The characters stay with me while I am doing other things.
Does playing such intense characters take a toll on you?
Why should I say it takes a toll? I am thankful that I got this opportunity. It requires a certain amount of commitment. It requires a certain amount of time. That’s why I am here. It is like saying, ‘We want to play for the Indian cricket team.’ And then when you play, you say, ‘We get so tired playing these matches!’ You have worked your whole life for that opportunity. Now enjoy it. I feel whenever I get characters which are so complex, I love it. I love the fact that I have that opportunity and whatever I need to do for it is a part of the job. So, it’s fine.
Your Kabir Singh looks like Udta Punjab meets Kaminey. How much of Tommy Singh and Charlie are present in him?
This question will be answered on June 21, when you see it yourself!
I have never got the opportunity to play an emotional arc, which has been so complete. I think Kabir Singh’s emotional arc is the most complete of all the characters that I have played. He has that edginess and ruggedness that people associate with Tommy, Kaminey and maybe Haider. But the arc is much wider. I think this is even a bigger arc than Haider had as a character. Secondly, because it comes from love, it’s a very interesting combination of being aggressive and vulnerable at the same time. It is a lot of pathos, which you feel for this character, but at the same time, he can be so intimidating. It is a very unique kind of combination which I have never had in any of the other characters that I have played.
But how do you manage to disconnect from such extreme emotions and characters which are so contrary to your real persona?
Such characters are my alter ego! (laughs) I don’t think any two human beings are different from each other. I think we all have exactly the same potential. And on the basis of our influences, upbringing, exposure, at what age what you had to see and how you had to deal with it, we tap into different parts of that entire basket. Everybody has the same basket, we are all the same. Every individual taps into different areas of that, and therefore they seem different from each other. So I am sure we all have all possible characters within us. But we choose to be who we want to be. Or sometimes we become who we are by default.
Is there any difference in the working style of a Bollywood director and someone from regional cinema, in this case, Sandeep Vanga?
Very different! I think culturally, the work ethic is very different. The way things happen, they are different. The processes are different, the interpretations are different, the execution is different. It’s difficult to explain, but there is a difference, definitely!
Being a non-drinker, you said you got ‘caffeine high’ for Udta Punjab. How did you manage in Kabir Singh?
I had to act ya! That’s what my job is – acting. I don’t have to be something. I have to act being something. Two different things.
Sometimes our films are criticised for endorsing stuff like stalking. What if Kabir Singh comes under fire for showing violent romance? How do you prepare yourself for such kind of audience response?
That’s a hypothetical question! You think I haven’t seen enough of those? I had Padmaavat and Udta Punjab back-to-back, so you can imagine how that must’ve been. It’s a movie. It’s not real life. So people should focus on the wrong things that happen in their life. You know, movies are meant to be for entertainment. And we work very hard to make those movies and we think very hard before we make them. Nobody is responsible. And it’s impossible to make everybody happy. And so everybody’s trying to do what they can to the best of their ability, you know, and we do it for the audience. You don’t make a movie to piss somebody off. You want everybody to come to the theater. It’s just part of the job that comes and goes.
So will you prefer a lighter film as your next project?
Right now I don’t know what I’m doing next. It’s not like I make these decisions that okay let’s do this now, and let’s do that now. I don’t have any such preconceived plans. Something is exciting, something is fun, let’s do it, simple!