How did you bag the lead role in Dhadak?
I met Karan (Johar) first on the sets of Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, where my brother (Shahid Kapoor) was his co-judge. Later, he asked me to meet him in his office. He wanted to know me and understand if I was capable of performing. We met again a couple of times before he made his decision. I asked if I could meet Shashank (Khaitan). I really liked his first film (Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania). I wanted to learn about his process because he also writes his films. One day, he told me that he intended to remake Sairat in Hindi with me as the lead. At that point, I hadn’t seen Sairat, but then when I saw it, I was consumed by its narrative. It’s been crafted so well and has beautiful performances. It’s a very powerful film and I remember after watching it I couldn’t speak for the longest time.
The setting of your previous film, Majid Majidi’s Beyond The Clouds, is quite different from Dhadak. What was your experience with this role?
It’s been incredible. The film is very close to my heart. Shashank has a very different way of preparing than Majid (Majidi) sir does. Also, both the films are so different, it’s exciting to go deeper into the characters and learn as much as I can from them.
How did you prepare for your role in Dhadak?
We’ve used Mewari dialect in this film. It took a lot of readings to ensure that the language of the film was well-rehearsed and that there was a right balance between Hindi and Mewari. It was important to have the flavour and influence of the language and yet make it accessible for everyone. Besides that, Janhvi (Kapoor) and I went to recces with Shashank. We spent a lot of time in Jaipur and Udaipur interacting with the locals and understanding their culture. Our looks were inspired by these visits as well, whether it was colouring my hair, wearing contacts, piercing my ears or putting on a little weight.
What are the challenges ahead of you?
I don’t know what the challenges might be. But that’s what is exciting. The adventurous part about acting is that you get to be a part of all kinds of units and people, explore different dimensions and overcome challenges that are out of your comfort zone. I am looking forward to doing things that I haven’t done before and become a better person through these experiences, and hopefully a better artiste too.
Who are the most significant influences in your life as an actor?
Growing up, my influences were not only actors but musicians, dancers, and filmmakers too. Actors who have inspired me are the ones who have been consistent, such as Dilip (Kumar) sir, Marlon Brando, Heath Ledger, Meryl Streep. My brother has inspired me a lot. My mother (Neelima Azeem) too. She’s a beautiful artiste.
Will we see you in versatile roles in the future?
I hope so. You are only as good as the opportunities that you get. But you can definitely expect someone who’s very passionate about acting, who’s willing to go all the way and do what is necessary to authentically portray a character. And I am looking forward to opportunities that allow me to do that.