He may have en­thralled cine­go­ers and crit­ics with his un­der­stated, yet pow­er­ful out­ing as Ma­harawal Ratan Singh, but Shahid Kapoor feels film­maker San­jay Leela Bhansali is “the real hero” of the film

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - City - - FRONT PAGE - Prashant Singh prashant.singh@htlive.com

His­tor­i­cally, not much is known about the king of Me­war, Ma­harawal Ratan Singh. Prob­a­bly that’s why when Shahid Kapoor was of­fered to es­say the king’s life in San­jay Leela Bhansali’s Pad­maa­vat, it felt like that of an “un­der­dog”. But de­spite play­ing the least au­thor-backed part in the film, he has shone bright with his re­gal, un­der­stated yet pow­er­ful per­for­mance in the film. And all of it is hap­pen­ing in the 15th year of his jour­ney in Bol­ly­wood.

“I feel very happy be­cause I knew it was a big chal­lenge,” says Shahid, as he talks about play­ing Ratan Singh, com­plet­ing 15 years in the in­dus­try, and more.

Are you con­tent with the way your ca­reer has shaped up?

I have been work­ing for 15 years now, dur­ing which I have mostly done main­stream solo hero films. But when I said yes to Pad­maa­vat, I felt like an un­der­dog for the first time be­cause I knew that out of the three roles, mine — though it was a good part — was the least au­thor-backed. I re­mem­ber when I met San­jay sir, he told me, ‘Shahid, I can’t do this film if you say no to it as I need all the three char­ac­ters to be of a cer­tain type. I need the love story to work and I need a hero in the film as I have a very strong anti-hero’. I told him, ‘sir, I am at a cer­tain stage in my ca­reer, so, do you feel I should do this film?’ He said, ‘I wouldn’t have come to you had I not be­lieved [that you should do it]’. I said yes, and didn’t even hear the script.

But wasn’t it a risky move?

I re­mem­ber telling Mira [Ra­jput Kapoor; wife] that I have taken a risk but I will take on this chal­lenge. This film has been a one-and-a hal­fyear long jour­ney. In fact, she sup­ported me a lot. I re­mem­ber af­ter watch­ing the film, Mira hugged me and said, ‘I am proud of you. The char­ac­ter is so un­der­stated and un­der­played. It was so dif­fi­cult but I loved what you did in the film and this is your best per­for­mance’. To­day, ev­ery­body is reach­ing out, giv­ing me love, and are be­ing very ap­pre­cia­tive. I am sure ev­ery­body has been an un­der­dog at some stage in their life. Also, I feel in to­day’s day-and-age, ac­tors are very reach­able so, peo­ple can experience their jour­ney and con­nect with them.

You must have been in a re­ally se­cure space to hav­ing taken the role up then...

I guess, maybe three to four years back, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. But to­day, I feel a cer­tain amount of se­cu­rity as an ac­tor. So, I guess I was ready to take up such a chal­lenge. Even peo­ple from within the fra­ter­nity have reached out to me, and said that it was brave of me to do this film. I feel happy be­cause

I knew it was a big chal­lenge.

Com­par­a­tively, you didn’t have many crutches to hold on to vis­àvis Ratan Singh’s part. In that sense, how chal­leng­ing was it come up with such a strong per­for­mance?

You know, some­thing very karmic hap­pened when I started shoot­ing the film. It was De­cem­ber and we were do­ing night shifts. Due to some is­sues with the cos­tume, I was in­formed that it may take more than two hours [to fix the prob­lem]. So I went back [in my van] and watched Mughale-azam (1960). Af­ter watch­ing it, I kept think­ing about Dilip (Ku­mar) sir’s per­for­mance. There was so much dig­nity and power in his si­lences. His char­ac­ter was not loud, ag­gres­sive and he wasn’t very ver­bose too. But still he had so much pres­ence and char­ac­ter, so I re­alised that Ratan Singh needs to be like that.

So, you held on to Dilip Ku­mar’s per­for­mance in your head…

Yes, that per­for­mance be­came like Bi­ble in my head. I feel

if I hadn’t seen that per­for­mance at that time, maybe, I would have not known what to do. It was god­send. I learnt how to give power to dig­nity be­cause it is dif­fi­cult to be pow­er­ful when you are silent and show var­ied emo­tions just with your eyes’ ex­pres­sions. Se­condly and most im­por­tantly, he was the least known of the three char­ac­ters. So, a lot of things that even you don’t know need to be com­mu­ni­cated or else, you will not be able to experience the per­son. I felt re­spon­si­ble about that. The fact that I was rep­re­sent­ing the Ra­jput dy­nasty, and the qual­i­ties that they stood for, were so in­spi­ra­tional that I wanted to con­vey it to peo­ple. That’s the headspace I was in.

Af­ter watch­ing the film, Mira hugged me and said, ‘I am proud of you. The char­ac­ter is so un­der­stated and un­der­played... but I loved what you did in the film. SHAHID KAPOOR, AC­TOR

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