Interview By: Ankita R. Kanabar

Dreaming about something and turning it into a reality are two different things. But some actually manage to sync both. Case in Point – Shraddha Kapoor! Read on to know why I’d say that. Post ‘Aashiqui 2’, there’s been no turning back for her. Just as her latest ‘Rock On 2’ has hit the marquee, we catch up with the actress at Excel Entertainment’s office to chat about the film and more…

“I feel that every film is like a debut film for me”

You’ve been saying that when you saw ‘Rock On!!’, you always thought you wanted to be a part of its sequel.
Yes, it’s actually amazing. My parents, my brother and I went to watch ‘Rock On!!’ and we loved it. They all got up to leave and I was sitting at my chair and it was very filmy, the credits were going on and I told my dad, ‘Baps, yeh log iska sequel banaenge na toh main ismein houngi for sure.’ He was pretty encouraging. In my heart, I knew that if they make a sequel, I have to make sure I’m in it. Then there was this news floating that they’re making a sequel, and I didn’t even think twice, I just called up Ritesh and asked him if it’s true. I asked him, do you want to meet me for it. He said, sure, but there’s just one problem, the lead female actor will have to sing all her songs herself. I thought I’ll be able to do it, since I’d sung ‘Galliyaan’ earlier. But this was a different kind of singing. They were actually looking for a professional singer to play the part, but I told him to let me try. I went to Yash Raj where Shankar Ehsaan Loy were sitting. I came right after my ABCD 2 rehearsals, I sang 3-4 songs for them. The next I saw was that they were smiling. So, I was like, yeh ho gaya hai abhi I think.

You do have a connection with singing, don’t you? Certainly that must have helped, but how else did you train for the film?
Yes, Lata Mangeshkar is my nana’s cousin. I call her Lata Ajji. There’s a classical background in music, in my family. When I was a little girl, I did some classes also with my nana, I regret that I didn’t do more. But for this film, I trained with Samantha Edwards. She’s a beautiful jazz singer. She’s also a vocal teacher so I learnt from her to open up my voice a little bit. My voice has become more bass now. Training your voice is like developing biceps in your throat literally. Your vocal chords have to become really strong so that you can hold the air and let it go. So it was just amazing to learn more.

How else did you prepare for the role?
Mainly the prep was for the singing aspect of it. But it’s interesting because this is the first time any director has given me a different kind of prep. It doesn’t look like this is Shujaat’s first film. When we met to discuss the film, he asked me very off-beat questions. He asked me questions like, how many school trips have you gone on or have you gone back-packing alone? Have you lived alone, how strict are your parents? I’m like what are these questions. Then I understood that he’s asking me because my character is a loner in many ways. He wanted me to spend more time with myself, and get a sense of what it feels like when you are alone. So then I started putting a DND sign outside my room door, everyone in the house would know that whenever that sign is there, nobody should come inside or anything. So I would sit inside, with my dog or sometimes without him, just read a book or a script, and see what it feels like to be alone. I anyway do not have much time to be with my friends anyway, but that also I reduced when I was preparing for the film.

 

“Aside from the fact that people’s families are involved, we work really hard on our films, so that’s something which should be spoken about more. I think that people really should understand what it takes to make a film, and it cannot be about link-up rumours and all”

So it certainly has been a challenging film.
This one was difficult also because the way I would speak. In my previous films except for ‘Aashiqui’, – be it ‘Baaghi’ or ‘ABCD 2’ or ‘Ek Villain’ – the way the character would speak was slightly animated. A higher pitched voice also. For this, the challenge was to be softer, be calm and composed. Shujaat had strictly warned me to not be bubbly. The volume of speaking made a big difference because I saw a very big change in my energy. You feel a lot more calm!

How was the equation with all the boys?
I instantly became a big fan of Farhan after watching him in ‘Rock On!!’. I was shooting for ‘Teen Patti’ at that time, so I was doing a film, and I would also sing but I didn’t know that it would be possible to sing in movies. Actors weren’t singing in movies at that time and then this guy comes along and sings all his songs. That gives you hope that even you can do it. He is amazing to work with, to just see how passionate he is as an actor, just as a person he is so driven with what he loves doing. Arjun is the baby of the group, he does the maximum amount of masti and he looks at the film-making process from a very broad perspective. He has some amazing suggestions on the set. They’ve welcomed Shashank and me with their arms wide open. He has such a likeable quality. Purab and Arjun on set are like Tom and Jerry. I feel like I’m the most mature person on the group (laughs).

As an actor, do you think about box-office numbers?
It’s not as easy a question because box-office numbers are also related to how many people go and watch your film. But at the same time, the film is made in this budget, so it will make profit if it earns this much and all that. I don’t understand those things but I know that more the tickets sell, the more the box-office collection. So, I hope lots of tickets sell for each movie.  

There’s a lot of effort which goes into a film, but does it bother you when most often it’s the personal aspect of your life which finds more attention? Things like, link-ups, do they bother you?
All kind of link-ups bother me and yes, it’s really unfair because you’re working as an actor, you are working together, doing interviews, talking about the film is so much, but the headline of the interview is something else. I feel it is unfair because if I’ve given 66 days of my life to a film shoot, another 70 days for prep, and it all comes down to talking about the film. Then why should I be speaking if my work is not given the respect to be spoken about? Aside from the fact that people’s families are involved, we work really hard on our films, so that’s something which should be spoken about more. I think that people really should understand what it takes to make a film, and it cannot be about link-up rumours and all.

“Learning is never-ending in life. With every person that you meet, there’s so much to learn but in terms of the films I’ve done, I feel confident about the choices I’ve made”

How do you feel about our choices and the films in your body of work at this point in time?
I feel that every film is like a debut film for me. With every film you learn so much, you have a different process of preparing for it, you get to work with different directors. Of course, there has been a lot of learning that has happened and a lot of learning that has to happen. Learning is never-ending in life. With every person that you meet, there’s so much to learn but in terms of the films I’ve done, I feel confident about the choices I’ve made. If I want to do a film, I want to make sure I really like it. This is actually my life, I don’t do anything else. The only little time I get to spend is with my family. I haven’t taken a holiday since last July. There’s not been a single day when there’s no discussion on my phone about a film or shoot or anything. Even if I’ve gone to my sister’s wedding or whatever, in the day, I’m doing something else on my phone work related. This is actually my life and the air I breathe. So, I better enjoy the films that I do.

You’ll be seen in the Haseena Parker biopic with your brother. Are you looking forward to sharing screen-space with him?
I’ve not started shooting with him yet, but he’s started his schedule, I’ll be joining him soon. I think it’s the first time ever that a real life brother-sister have come on-screen as reel-life brother and sister. I’m really excited and very nervous also. I’ve been thinking that if I have to do a scene with him, I have to forget that he’s my bhaiyya. He’s a character in the film and so am I. But the fact that we are brother and sister for real will also help. I hope that bond translates.

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