When Janhvi Kapoor sat down with us for her interview as our June digital cover star two months ago, we were all in a good space. India had started giving out vaccinations to the elderly, there were whispers of all of us getting it soon, the COVID-positive numbers were down, and we dared to hope that things would get better. Cut to two months later, and we are bleeding as a country. Dealing with grief, frustration, fear all rolled into one, a lot of us don’t know what comes next. “There is also a sense of guilt,” Janhvi says as we connect again. “It’s hard to go to sleep knowing there is so much pain, helplessness and suffering in the country right now. And you feel guilty for not doing enough. I’ve realised, now more than ever, what a place of immense privilege some of us are in. The only thing people in my position can do is help people around them.”
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2018 & Beyond
This year marks Janhvi’s third year in the industry. With four film releases and two coming up soon, her journey has been one of constant growth; however, her first release was also marked with a personal struggle, the loss of her mother. “Because of what was happening in my personal life, I was very disconnected from what was happening around me. In hindsight, I would have been more engaged. I would have tried to create more of an impression. I was getting a certain amount of attention, but my mind was somewhere else altogether,” she shared.
Having followed in the footsteps of her mother, does she at any point feel the pressure of carrying forward Sridevi’s legacy? “It’s not a pressure, but a responsibility, and I am happy about it. Being my mother’s daughter has opened up many doors for me and given me a lot of love that maybe I haven’t been so deserving of. The flip side is that people have high expectations from me, but I understand that too. And I am happy about it because if I have to be compared, why not be compared with the best,” she smiles.
Growing up surrounded by Bollywood, films were very much a part of Janhvi’s life, but what attracted her to the industry was the work. “I just wanted to experience what it feels like to be able to create something beautiful. It’s never been about the fun and the glamour because honestly, that is something that I’ve seen up close. My mom getting ready, going to events, being around the media… I was more interested in seeing these brilliant performances and feel a need to experience, and create something like that.”
Her love for films is evident not just from the obvious passion you hear in her voice but also in her anecdotes. “During Dhadak’s release, my first thought was ‘I need to get better’ (laughs). But I remember going to Gaiety Galaxy (Mumbai) and seeing people dancing to Zingaat, and that truly made me happy.” Another thing she remembers doing is reading and listening to criticism about her acting skills. A thing she vows never to stop doing. “Your entire career is based on whether the audience likes you or not, so it is important to tap into the pulse of what they want.”
Janhvi’s filmography includes a vast variety; everything from a young girl in love to a Flight Lieutenant in the Armed Forces, her roles have given her the space to show her true calibre to the world. “It is important that I pick up roles that I can emotionally invest in. It’s tough to go to a film set every day, be someone you are not, and stay motivated. When I look at a script, I make sure it’s something that challenges me, and it’s a story that I would like to see on-screen myself.” Talking about her plan for the future, she stresses that she wants to continue taking up different roles. “I think a lot of people look at me through this vulnerable, docile, sensitive and innocent girl lens (probably because of the films I’ve done). I want to challenge that. I get excited about doing things differently, and I like to see how far I can push myself.”
Every Day Inspiration
With the year we’ve lived through and everything happening around us right now, I end the interview with a question on what inspires her. “Just powerful women around me. From my peers, Alia (Bhatt), Sara (Ali Khan) to Beyoncé to even my sister, it is inspiring to see women who embrace themselves and don’t depend on anyone for anything. It’s exactly what my mother also told me. ‘Never depend on anyone, and make your own identity,’” she signs off.
Content director & Editor: Kamna Malik; Photographer: Vaishnav Praveen at The House Of Pixels; Jr. Fashion Editor: Shaeroy Chinoy; Art direction: Pinky Akola; Hair: Mike Desir; Make-up: Riviera Lynn; Production: Imran Khatri Productions; Marketing head: Ekta Ashar; Assisted by: Jainee Bheda (styling); Artist’s management agency: Hype PR
The shoot was done prior to the Covid spike, with all precautions in place.