Hindustan Times - Brunch - - COVER STORY - By Anil Sadarangani

A s a free­lance writer, one must grab any paid work com­ing one’s way. Even if it is an in­ter­view with Shahid Kapoor.

I had long known from a se­nior film jour­nal­ist friend that the ac­tor is a tough nut to crack. He is stand-off­ish and rude, came the warn­ing. As some­one who prefers to give fel­low hu­mans the ben­e­fit of doubt, I pooh-poohed the warn- ing. Then, the edi­tor of your favourite life­style weekly tabled the brief: Get Shahid to talk about gen­der-neu­tral fash­ion.

I ar­rived at Sof­i­tel Mum­bai BKC for the shoot. The ac­tor was de­layed at an­other shoot and faced an over­packed sched­ule. The face-to-face was can­celled.

A month later to the date, the chat fi­nally hap­pened, al­beit via mo­bile. As can be imag­ined, be­tween an opin­ion­ated, judg­men­tal writer not in­spired to do a tele­phonic, and an ac­tor bored to speak to an­other wit­less mem­ber of the press, the in­ter­view played out clum­sily.

The phone’s recorder re­fused to work. The con­ver­sa­tion had to be recorded on an­other de­vice via speaker mode. With no net­work in­side the room, the in­ter­view took place on a noisy bal­cony Here’s the awk­ward phone chat be­tween two strangers (with ini­tial bits lost in traf­fic noise):

Shahid? Can you hear me? Yeah, yeah, I can hear you.

You’re a big star in a film (hint­ing at Pad­maavat) that’s about the sac­ri­fice of a woman. Most he­roes would not do a role where he doesn’t get the girl— (In­ter­rupt­ing): What’s your ques­tion?

What drew you to this role? This is a tale of love, sac­ri­fice, val­our. (Rest in­audi­ble.) I’m very proud that I am part of this film.

Deepika and Ran­veer re­port­edly had to see coun­sel­lors be­cause their roles af­fected them men­tally. What was your cool­ing down mech­a­nism? My daugh­ter.

Last year, in GQ, you said that you don’t un­der­stand fash­ion. Do you now? (In­audi­ble)

Sorry, I can’t hear you... (Does some­thing) Is this bet­ter?

To­tally! What I said was that I never

“my cool-down mech­a­nism aF­Ter pad­maavaT? my daugh­Ter!”

un­der­stood fash­ion ear­lier. To­day, I have learned to un­der­stand it more than I did, say, five-six years back.

How did that hap­pen? Ex­po­sure, meet­ing peo­ple, learn­ing from them, work­ing with de­sign­ers. Also, find­ing my­self, who I am and how I want to dress.

What are your views on gen­der-neu­tral fash­ion? Your own fash­ion brand sells gen­der-neu­tral items. Are you com­fort­able wear­ing them? (Sus­pi­cious laugh­ter) Why so many ques­tions about fash­ion? Are you do­ing a piece on gen­der-neu­tral clothes or some­thing? (Sud­denly rec­ol­lects) I re­mem­ber! This has to do with the shoot we did last month. I to­tally for­got. Okay, carry on.

Do you think you have evolved as a per­son? I al­ways say that there’s a big dif­fer­ence be­tween a boy and a man. To­day, I feel much more of a man. I’m 36, mar­ried, with a daugh­ter. I’ve been earn­ing for my­self since I was 16. I’ve found my­self in many ways.

Will the phe­nom­e­non of celebrity di­min­ish with peo­ple be­com­ing overnight sen­sa­tions, thanks to so­cial me­dia? The con­cept of celebrity has al­ready evolved. It’s good that there are so many op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple to show­case their skills. I am for it.

Thanks so much Shahid, we’re done. Thank you!

“I al­ways say there Is a bIg dIf­fer­ence be­tween a boy and a man. to­day, I feel much more of a man”

Shirt and bot­toms, Ur­vashi Kaur; shoes, Shahid’s own

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