Shraddha Kapoor | 27
The sun is beating down on Mumbai’s Juhu beach on a hot January afternoon as children play cricket on the coarse sand along the gold-tinted waters. The view from actor Shraddha Kapoor’s airconditioned seventh-floor residence is reminiscent of Goa with palm trees adding to the serenity of the location. But Kapoor finds the room too cold for comfort. “Can I please switch off the AC for some time?” she asks apologetically as soon as she walks in.
The petite Kapoor, 27, has just returned from the gym, clad in a baby pink tee and dark grey tracks. Her makeup-free face is radiant, her demeanour cheerful. She smiles and plays with her hair while responding to text messages. And then she gives us her undivided attention.
Why wouldn’t Kapoor be in a happy space? Her last three releases—Aashiqui 2, Ek Villain and Haider—were major successes, both with critics and at the box office. And her performances have been noted as particularly worthy.
For someone who has always wanted to be an actor and was offered films since she was 15, this is exactly how she envisioned her life. “I’d always picture myself to be successful,” Kapoor tells Forbes India.
Reality, however, was different—at least, to begin with. Her first two films, Teen Patti (2010) and Luv Ka The End (2011), tanked at the box office. “That actually seemed like a dream, a dream where I felt failure,” she says.
But Kapoor was undeterred. She knew she belonged to the film industry. It was further validated from the time she had auditioned for Teen Patti. The producer of the film had approached her after seeing her photos on Facebook, oblivious to the fact that she was actor Shakti Kapoor’s daughter. (She only figured that connection out after seeing Kapoor’s brother Siddhanth in the list of mutual friends).
The experience of the audition was surreal for Kapoor. “I faced the camera for the first time and loved it. I was like, ‘I want to do more of this… this is so cool,’” she recalls. Her screen test got her the role, but adulation was still miles away. She went unnoticed in her first two films.
The turning point came in 2013 with Aashiqui 2. “My experience on Aashiqui 2 will stay with me till I die. Its success made me realise that anything is possible in this world. You just have to trust your gut instinct,” says Kapoor.
Director Mohit Suri had initially offered her another film which did not work out. Later, when he asked her to play a Marathi mulgi (girl) in Aashiqui 2, she grabbed the chance. “After Mohit narrated the story vaguely, I told myself that I cannot lose out on the biggest opportunity of my life. I told him this is going to be epic, especially with him directing it,” says Kapoor. Her instinct proved right. The film worked its magic on the box office and turned Kapoor into an overnight sensation.
Suri credits her more than himself for the success of Aashiqui 2. “It was she who felt there was something in the film, not me. And she was spectacular in it,” he says. Kapoor and Suri then joined hands to give another blockbuster, Ek Villain, where she got a chance to unleash her adventurous streak—she learnt to ride a motorcycle and went deep sea diving in Mauritius.
“Ek Villain’s narration was shorter than Aashiqui 2’s. The moment I began, Shraddha told me, ‘You love me, no? Let’s have tea.’ That is the kind of faith she has in me. It makes me even more responsible,” Suri tells Forbes India.
The film also brought out a hidden facet about Kapoor—her playback singing. She lent her voice to the chartbuster ‘Teri Galiyaan’. “Mohit did not allow me to sing in Aashiqui 2 because the notes [of the tracks] were too high. He gave me the go-ahead in Ek Villain and now, people associate me with singing as well. It will be nice if I am nominated as a singer too,” she says with a smile.
Back-to-back hits have compelled the industry to look at Kapoor with seriousness. With young actors such as Alia Bhatt and Parineeti Chopra establishing their foothold in Bollywood, Kapoor, too, was staking her claim. And that was strengthened when Vishal Bhardwaj directed her in the widely acclaimed Haider.
When Kapoor heard that Bhardwaj was on the lookout for a girl to play a Kashmiri journalist, she set up a meeting with him via co-star Shahid Kapoor. “I am hungry for good work and not egoistic about approaching directors. In fact, I feel privileged that I have access to them,” says Kapoor.
But fame and entrenchment in the industry have, quite evidently, not gone to her head. So much so that her friends have to remind her to behave like an actor. “I am a very simple person who happens to be born in a film family. My father has taught me to value everything while my mom [Shivangi] has been my strength through tough times. I am very close to my family and it will remain like that forever,” she says.
Suri concurs. “There is a very honest person inside her,” he says.
(This story appears in the 20 February, 2015 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)