Interview By: Amul Vikas Mohan
After going through various obstacles his movie has finally released and his performance in the movie is one of the biggest trending news right now, from taking big risks to going to various shades of emotions Shahid Kapoor has nailed his role of Rawal Ratan Singh in the best way possible, he shares his journey in a candid chat with us.
How are you feeling that after two years this movie has released, is the weight on your shoulders reduced?
There’s a lot of stuff that I am feeling, the first thing that I felt after I saw the film I was like I did this (Laughs), It was a big risk, I took it because of course when I said yes to this film everybody told me don’t do the film, how can you do this film because nobody knows what your role is in the film. Maybe you read the script and get a good role but nobody knows and I think things were in a place where nobody was going to make an announcement to explain things because it had already gotten into a slit controversy so the idea was to try and keep it as low key as possible and just complete the film. So first things first to enter a team which has done 2 films together and is being loved so the focus is on the team and then you are the last one to get cast and there is going to be no clarification of your role in the film, so how are you going to feel a sense of ownership over the film and how are people going to give you a sense of ownership of the film. When you do a Bhansali film it’s a year of your life at least if not more and I am anyways one of those who does one film at a time so to give a year and a half of your life to something that you will only be able to justify, hopefully if you get it right and everything goes well post release it’s a massive risk to take but I am very happy I took it because I have got tremendous amount of love after this film and honestly a part of me wasn’t excepting this because I didn’t really know how it will be perceived.
Tell us more about your character and how was your experience playing it?
Essentially you see him as a lover because when the film begins you see him in a very soft capacity; he is soft, he is smitten, so Rawal Ratan Singh is a warrior, he is a Rajput King, he is used to roughing it out, he has a hard side to him, he has an aggressive side to him, of course he is righteous, he is good and cinematically sometimes those things can be limiting but if you can empower those things you can make great impact. So, you see Rawal Ratan Singh essentially in the capacity of a lover till the scene in which Alauddin asks for his wife, that is the first time you see the Rajput, the warrior, the King, a man who is used to saying something and it gets done, you are a King, you are a Ruler nobody says anything to you. So, the other two characters, one has a titular role and the other is a author backed role and those are extremely strong characters and on paper you know that this character is hitting it out of the park and then Ranveer is a very good actor so you know he is going to kill it and it’s like when I work with Vishal Bharadwaj Sir there is already an anticipation when you have done good together there is a certain energy which is already there, so despite all of that I have to kind of make an impact. I was getting a high when I was doing scenes with Ranveer, because it was like your hands are tied, you know they say the biggest challenge for an actor is when words are taken away for him, so because my character had to be so controlled and so internalized it was so exhilaratingly scary and challenging. When we did those scenes I was feeling like an airmailing rush either we won’t be able to do or will kill it; there is no middle ground, only if you kill it you will be able to make impact. So it became like an amazing experience as an actor and on another note I think Indian culture is great, I think are values are tremendous and rarely you find characters which are showcasing them the way this character showcases, so I wanted to do a film where a character is good and can still be aspiration and can still make impact because why are we forgetting goodness, it’s great to have morals, it’s great to believe in your culture and that’s why Sanjay sir has glorified the Rajput community and the Kingdom of Mewad the way that he has because it’s what they have stood for, they were ready to make such huge sacrifices because of theirs beliefs and I think that’s aspiration for me and I want to take that story to the world and I wanted to participate in it and I really felt that if and I am not just saying me but if a really good actor would not have step into this film as the third character you know the film would have got very distinctive because the villain character is very powerful and it could very easily just kind of get lost.
Like the example I draw is it’s like Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’, you are waiting for Joker because you know he is bringing some madness to this place but you know that righteous ideologies of Bruce Wayne is what will actually balance this madness.
Yeah the only difference I feel is that this film starts from the point of view of Khilji, TDK starts from the point of view of the city and then Joker enter the situation so he becomes the Antagonist, that is more author backed then this I would say, if I was to break it down as a screen play, having said that I think Sir has done great job with the way that he has created an equal individual identity and not just for us three I would say like Aditi, like Jim Sarbh even the guy who played Gora Singh, the guy who played Ragav Chetan. I loved doing my scenes with him.
You touched it on the first point that you are entering a thing which these three people have created back to back like be it ‘Ram Leela’ or ‘Bajirao Mastani’ and now all guns blazing ‘Padmaavat’. So was there any sense of outsiderness you felt at all?
Yeah, I felt like a newcomer after 15 years of work, so I was like ok anybody wants to tell me how to do this as in usually after so many years of work you enter and feel like I have been around for a while guys so I feel like I am one of the people leading form the front but no not on this film but I would say that it lasted for first 4-5 days of shoot and after that you kind of get so absorbed with playing the character and I knew I had to empower Maharaja Rawal Ratan Singh and when you play characters like these you can’t disconnect, you have to stay in him all day because it’s all internal emotions, there are no crunches, there is nothing external, it is to be felt because if the only thing that’s supporting me is what my eyes are saying because there are not so many words then I need to be feeling it to another level for it to jump through so I was in that mood all the time. Having said that, working with Mr. Bhansali in itself is a experience and I really feel that you know the more you work with him the better you get with him because he has a very unique way of working and he has a certain type of mind and is a certain type of person and the more I worked with him the more I understood him, the more I understood him the more I became malleable as clay and the more he could do with me, although this part is not that multidimensional, not that the character doesn’t have that potential but I think the story is focusing on so many things that there is no time for that character.
“I feel I have learned so much in the 15 years, nothing has come easy everything has been a struggle and I had to prove myself many times over”
Even for your physical appearance did you do something special?
Yeah the whole idea was that there is a larger brief for a film and every actor has to learn to follow a brief, the brief is that he wanted one guy to have this beastly energy and other guy to have very beautiful energy, very beautiful clean, poised, he wanted an absolute aesthetic value on one side and a very barbaric mess on the other side. And that’s where the contrast to two worlds comes from and also because he said there is only one lover in this film, the other is an obsessed man, there is a women who loves her husband and there is a man who loves his wife, so the love needs to come across so this needs to be beautiful and this needs to be aesthetic and he is great with that, so that was my brief and I followed it but because he wanted it to be beautiful but there is a warrior there who needs to look like a warrior I chose to go the route where he looks like a guy who’s probably spend a lot of time fighting, learning, I’m sure he had his gladiator movements when he learnt how to fight and I knew there is a climax fight that is coming up, so the challenge was that you never see Rawal Rantan Singh in the capacity of a warrior, there is no scene like how Khilji has a kushti scene, Rawal Ratan Singh is never seen like that, you never going to see that side of his life, you are only seeing him in that zone, so how do you make the audience believe when that one on one war scene comes because one guy has not been seen in that capacity at all how can you make them believe, so then the physical aspect of the film came in because there were some scene where I was shirtless so you see that this guy is strong, powerful, he has an aesthetic appeal but he can go fight because by the time you reach the battle it’s too late, people have to already buy in to it and are waiting for an one on one battle and that battle has to seem like you should not see it as one sided, it has to feel like it’s entertaining, I really feel Mr. Bachchan thought me this that as an actor it’s not about muscles, it’s all in the eyes, it’s all in the attitude, so all those learnings, all those things put together slowly poured into this character , that’s why I feel it was my biggest test till date.
Your Bollywood side has come on, you are talking about the right films, the right actors, the right kind of zone you would want to be in. Is that helping?
Having said that, this film is my dedication because what happened with me is, at the 3rd day of the film there was a delay and they said it’s going to take three-four hours because of some costume work and some stuff and I opened my laptop and I had a folder Mughal-e-Azam there I see the entire film and when that film finished the only performance that was just all over me was Dilip sir’s and that became like a Bible for me because I saw that the way he had performed was so controlled so much presence and so much in love and yet a warrior. So there was a lot there which drew a direct parallel for the graph of Rawal RatanSingh and that was the moment where I found an answer for something that I had no idea about; how I am going to do it. I am like that I am not over prepared as an actor because I really feel acting is something very organic and you need to feel your way through, it’s like a conversation with your character and you have to wait for your character to start talking to you, till then you just keep trying stuff and slowly it starts coming and then you start getting it and slowly that one thread thurns into a few and you understand it in various levels. Even in ‘Haider’, ‘Udta Punjab’ I felt like that, so characters which are very challenging take some time to get a hold on it.
Lately have your characters been picked consciously, as we see you picking up different types of roles like in ‘Haider and ‘Udta Punjab and now this?
I will be honest with you, I think every creative person wants to see themselves at certain place, it’s a combination of opportunities; some people get them easily because of destiny, some have to wait for that because everybody has a very unique graph, there are actors who have peaked in their graph in first fifteen years of their career and there are actors who have been at their peak after 20 years of their careers and just get going, so I think that I have the destiny of a student, like God has given me the destiny and I am very thankful of that because I feel I have learned so much in these 15 years, nothing has come easy, everything has been a struggle and I had to prove myself many times over and I have always felt that I am swimming against the tide. I look at the opportunity and I had magical moments and Padmaavat is one of that. I think you have to wait for the opportunity and I think that’s how my career has been.
Your brother’s trailer is out now, what are sort of advices you are giving him now?
My job is to keep him low key that’s it. I have sense of partnership with him and fatherly feeling towards him.