The last time Janhvi Kapoor sat down for a conversation with ELLE, she was four films old. It was 2021 and Roohi had just hit theatres becoming the first major Bollywood film to be released in cinema halls post-lockdown. At a time when the Hindi film industry was struggling to fill seats and box office collections were abysmal, you’d imagine a formulaic masala potboiler would be the one to set the cash registers ringing. Instead, it was Kapoor’s eccentric horror-comedy with an underlying social message that did the trick. “It is important that I pick up roles that I can emotionally invest in,” she said as she expressed her desire to continue choosing scripts that pushed boundaries. Having done two critically acclaimed films since, and with two more in the pipeline, safe to say she has stood by her words.
Whether it’s Air Force pilot Gunjan Saxena, drug-peddling Jerry or the resilient Mili, Kapoor’s characters go beyond the conventional Bollywood heroine stereotype and shoulder most of the weight of the film. “The films I have done so far are the ones I gravitated the most towards naturally. I won’t lie, I think after Dhadak I was on a mission to prove to myself and to the audience that I can act and that I have something to offer. I wanted to take up challenges and go beyond what people expected of me. So I think I chased that subconsciously,” she reveals but not before disclosing that she looks forward to attempting an out-an-out comedy as well as a more glamorous role to change things up.
Kapoor studied the craft of acting at The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute but she’s been soaking in the know-how on her parents’ sets ever since she was a kid, “My first memories of being on set were papa’s film sets. I think I was only a few months old when they took me for the shoot of Pukar. I then remember being on the sets of Malini Iyer, and then English Vinglish. That was a fun set. Mom didn’t realise it because she missed being at home with me, papa and Khushi so much, but I really feel she was her most invigorated on a film set,” she shares.
Kapoor And Daughters
The year is set to mark not only Khushi Kapoor’s acting debut with Zoya Akhtar’s The Archies but also Boney Kapoor’s with Luv Ranjan’s Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar. While Kapoor does confess that the first day of a shoot can be nerve-racking, she’s confident that being in front of the camera is nothing her sister and father can’t ace. “They know better than me, they’ve been advising me before they even got into it,” she smiles.
When she’s not shooting, Kapoor is most likely to be found working out at the gym, reading, watching movies or spending time with her family— admitting she’s that “protective, possessive and needy” elder sister to Khushi. “She’s sensible and independent. But she’s my lifeline,” Kapoor laughs.
Her travels are another thing that keeps her busy on days away from set life. “I love exploring, going on adventures and trying new things. I like to have an immersive experience wherever I am,” she says describing her vacation personality. Come to think of it, it isn’t very different from the approach she brings to her craft. From Dhadak to Mili, tear-jerking love stories to gripping thrillers, Flight Lieutenant in the Armed Forces to small-town girl possessed by a demon— Janhvi Kapoor has never shied away from diving right into the deep end and riding the waves. Over the last five years, she’s not only carved out a unique path in the industry but also proven with every role that she’s more than just her family name.
Best Of Both Worlds
On her journey to coming into her own, Kapoor has surprised us with the various facets of her personality time and again, especially on social media— be it striking a pose in couture and photo dumping about her vacations or giving us a peek into her Kathak practices and keeping us entertained with her funny team reels. Her approach to Instagram, however, is one of detachment. “I don’t take it too seriously. It’s fun— the awareness, the pictures, the documentation of memories, the exchange of information and art, and all the other creative avenues it has to offer. But that’s about it,” she says.
Along with her preference to divorce her Instagram presence with her as an actor, what’s also refreshing about Kapoor is her accountability towards her privilege and the weight of responsibilities that come with it. She takes it as a challenge to not only live up to the expectations but exceed them. Who else would go from risking frostbites in a minus 15-degree freezer to a cricket pitch to learn a sport that takes years to master? Kapoor will next be seen in Bawaal opposite Varun Dhawan, Mr And Mrs Mahi opposite Rajkummar Rao, and in her words, “many many many more things after that because I intend to live 95% of my life on film sets and won’t rest till I’m the best.” Watch out, she’s comin’ in hot.