Shahid on doing ‘Padmaavat’ despite not having strong role like co-stars
After making the cumbersome journey to its release, did the protests over ‘Padmaavat’ kill the joy of watching it?
We are overjoyed that despite a huge handicap, ‘Padmaavat’ has made the numbers that it has. For us, the positive word of mouth was essential [for the film’s success].
Why did you decide to do this role when you knew yours was not an author-backed one?
I agreed to do it even before hearing the script. It wasn’t about the character I was playing. I did it because Sanjay Leela Bhansali said he can’t do this film without me. He couldn’t helm the movie on such a big scale if an actor of my calibre wasn’t on board. Doing a film in which the parallel characters are author-backed is like an enticing roller coaster ride. I didn’t mind it because I am a secure actor today. I had recently wrapped up ‘Udta Punjab’ (2015) and ‘Haider’ (2014). So, I was confident.
Also read – Shahid Kapoor on Padmaavat row: We had to be politically correct
Did you feel envious?
I am not jealous. I had to focus on my role. If I was bothered [with the attention given to other characters], my energy would have dissipated. There are many who, despite having the best roles, are insecure. No one put a gun to my head. If I am doing the film, I will with dignity. You don’t become stronger when things are served to you on a platter. You have to earn the tag.
It appears the success of your professional gambles has given you this confidence.
I was not this secure four years ago. But now, I do it [offbeat roles] to keep boredom at bay. I am not a newcomer who is merely excited about being in the industry. Of course, the movies is my magical space, but being part of Bollywood is not a driving force. Something [film] needs to sweep me off my feet to convince me to do it. In Udta Punjab, I got the drive from the fact that my character had to be high [under the influence] to the point of being abusive. I’ve never been high. That kept me on the edge. In ‘Haider’, it was the monologue I had to deliver. In ‘Padmaavat’, it was the sheer fact that I found myself scouting for my lines while reading the script. I had a line or two, here and there. But there’s a kick in being able to pull that off.
Playing safe doesn’t guarantee success anymore. Does it?
Nothing succeeds like success. Success and quality aren’t the same. Actors must chase quality, the by-product of which is success. I want to be that actor whose repertoire has a plethora of roles to show, not a couple of stray performances.
Did the debacle of ‘Rangoon’ bother you?
Vishal sir [Bhardwaj, ‘Rangoon’ director] and I make a great pair, but we didn’t make a great film. A lot of things went wrong with ‘Rangoon’. It was made on a large budget, but failed to connect with the audience. He is a great filmmaker, one who helped me redefine myself and search for [good] characters. It’s not easy for a filmmaker to hear criticism. It’s like commenting on his/her baby. It’s better to have that conversation a few years later, when they’re able to see the faults.
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