Common folk have cats and dogs as pets; Vaani Kapoor grew up with a monkey, two cows, a few rabbits and a hundred dogs. “We didn’t have neighbours growing up; I only had animals in my house! My friends used to come over and be like, oh my God, you live in a zoo,” Vaani laughs as she recalls her childhood. Thanks to her father who ran a ‘Shelter’ for rescued animals, their sprawling New Delhi property doubled up as an animal hospital. “I feel like all families are incomplete without a pet,” Vaani says, who’s current Mumbai family includes two adopted cats, Kiki and Koko.
Vaani’s childhood was bittersweet, as her parents ran a tight ship. “My sister Nupur Chopra and I weren’t allowed school trips or even sleepovers at our cousins’ homes. It’s only after Nupur married young that I realised that my life was planned for me and there was no space for self-discovery. I decided I wasn’t going to succumb to it; I wasn’t going to be easy!” she says. Eventually, her family came around and the actress moved base to Mumbai. “I had been a good kid all my life, so I could assure them I would never do anything to jeopardise my future.”
Life came full circle for Vaani when she was recently anointed the brand ambassador for MANGO, a label she has adored since her teens. Fashion is a form of self-expression for her, and dresses are her favourite. “They suit me and complement my body type. Sometimes though, it’s all about comfort for me because I’m a tad lazy,” she grimaces. “But since my teens, I’ve loved the exquisite collections by Tarun Tahiliani, Manish Malhotra and Rohit Bal. I enjoyed flipping through fashion magazines for interviews of international designers—Valentino and Elie Saab come to mind right now.”
A sporty child, Vaani has grown up to be obsessed with fitness. “I’m borderline embarrassed to agree with you on that!’ she admits. “Did you see the fat here, did you see? I keep shaming myself more than anybody else. But it was fun to be a wild kid. It used to annoy Nupur so much. My friends and I used to lock ourselves in her room, try on all her clothes and dance to Beyoncé. And when she would find out, we’d have mad fights—slippers would fly across the room, we’d spit at each other and run off! I’m sorry, what was the question? I completely lost track,” Vaani laughs. We discuss the similarity of having sisters as siblings and she endearingly narrates tales of the tight bond she shares with Nupur.
Returning to fitness, Vaani passionately admits how much she loves junk food. But the realisation that acting is an extremely demanding profession and only nutritious food can fuel her, made her take fitness seriously. “I had to be in top shape for the kind of films I had picked, so I follow fitness in a disciplined manner,” she says. I take her word for it—if you’ve seen the last superhit movie War – a turning point in her career – you’ve seen her top form.
After War, Vaani took it easy for a few months before signing on a slew of films and spent the lockdown shooting. Each of her three upcoming ones have a distinct vibe, and are set in different time periods. “Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui is modern—it’s today’s day and age. Bell Bottom is set in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and Shamshera goes way back.” Vaani teams up with the biggest names for these films—Ayushmann Khurrana, Akshay Kumar and Ranbir Kapoor. But I discover that on the sets, she can be quite a loner. “I like to believe that I’m a friendly person, but I’m actually not! I don’t really mingle with everyone on the sets and feel awkward around people easily. I even have my meals in my own room,” she says. But Akshay changed this for her on the sets of Bell Bottom. “He told me, you need to be out of your room by 6 pm. We are all going to have dinner, and then we are all going to play some games.”
As Vaani and I catch our breath from the laughter, I realise we’ve lost track of time, and I have forgotten that this was our first-ever conversation. For all the cool, nonchalant characters she’s played in Shuddh Desi Romance and Befikre, I discover that Vaani is all heart underneath. Her killer figure is prepped to set screens ablaze and the star is primed to rule. It’s onwards and upwards from here on.
Content director & Editor: Kamna Malik; Photographer: Tarun Vishwa; Fashion editor: Zoha Castelino; Creative director & cover design: Pinky Akola; Hair: Mike Desir; Make-up: Meher Akolah; Production: Imran Khatri Productions; Marketing head: Ekta Ashar; Assisted by: Jainee Bheda (styling); Talent management: Yash Raj Films