It’s not exactly been a good professional phase for Shraddha Kapoor for a while now. After Baaghi two years ago, which was preceded by hits like Aashiqui 2, Ek Villain and ABCD 2, she has had a quartet of disasters in Rock On 2, OK Jaanu, Half Girlfriend and Haseena Parkar.
However, the absence of hits for two long years and so many box office flops has neither unnerved the actor nor affected her market standing — Shraddha Kapoor has released Stree, will soon be seen in Batti Gul Meter Chalu with Shahid Kapoor, in Saaho, the ambitious Hindi-Telugu actioner with Prabhas, and the Saina Nehwal biopic. How does she explain this continued lucky streak in a milieu wherein so many flops affect careers of major talents? “I don’t know,” is her pensive answer. “I guess I am grateful to my fans, for, without them, we are nothing. That said, I also feel that when these films did not do well, they stood out even more glaringly than other failures because of the degree of success of my four hits films earlier, two of which — Ek Villain and ABCD 2 — crossed 100 crores.”
She is equally unsure about the reason why these four films did not work. “I guess the audience has all the power. Also, the only reason I can think of is that these films did not connect with the audiences. Once that happens, no one wants to watch the movie.”
Excited with the new
With Stree, she is confident and hopeful that people will like the film as much as they liked the trailer. “It was exciting to do a horror comedy as there was great content, which is king. I am blessed that I was chosen for this film. I was laughing all through the narration, and we had a blast shooting it.”
Stree, co-produced by Dinesh Vijan and Raj & Krishna, the Go Goa Gone producer and director-duo, and directed by Amar Kaushik, who she adores as a director, has a message that will be clear only upon watching the horror comedy. “If it was a horror film, I would have refused it, as I am really, really scared of them now!” she tells you. “It was different when I was a kid. I was an avid fan of X-Files, the TV serial. Another favourite was the Zee Horror Show.” Shraddha recalls her group of friends forming an X-Files club to solve ‘neighbourhood mysteries,’ “There is this bungalow attached to where I stay that has been empty since I was a child. We would make our own stories of mysteries there and then solve them,” she recollects.
Ask if she believes in the supernatural today and she says she keeps an open mind. “It is so easy to believe or disbelieve, but you never know what exists, and so you should respect it,” she says.
Shooting on locations for Stree was also quite intimidating because a lot of it was in the dark. “I am afraid of the dark,” says Shraddha. “Even today, I sleep with a small light on. We would be told stories, and then there was a light-man from our team who fell from a height one day, and swore that he felt someone had pushed him.”
The good part of these locations was the relaxed lifestyle of the people there, which Shraddha says was “so inspiring.” As she notes, “It’s a simple, good life, with a pace so slow that everyone and everything is so calm. People are so relaxed, unlike in Mumbai and the metros where people are in a race and have no time.”
This is also why, incidentally, that Shraddha values it immensely when she finds time with family at home and on vacations. The venue is insignificant, she tells you, because what matters is that they all —father Shakti Kapoor, mom Shivangi Kolhapure and brother Siddhant — are together. “I feel something is missing if there is no exchange of a text or a call with my brother,” she says.
Coming back to the film, she rates Rajkummar Rao and Pankaj Tripathi as two of the finest actors she has worked with, and professes that she has always been their fan. “At work, I could not take my eyes off them, they are so effortless,’’ she raves. “And Pankaj-ji is so sweet, so is Raj.”
While shooting, she admits that she was worried about matching their performance levels. “But there was a voice in my head that kept telling me to do my best,” she adds.
In need of a hit?
Egged on by her failures, Shraddha is bent on bettering herself and doing some really memorable films. “2018 has been physically challenging,” she feels. “In Saaho, I got to do action and almost seriously injured myself by stretching a leg muscle. I have a video of it and was lucky to have saved myself — I had earlier injured myself during ABCD 2. Then, for my Saina Nehwal biopic, I am training intensely in badminton. I even met and played with Saina, and will meet her again.”
She has also memorised dialogues in Telugu for Saaho, though she does not know whether her voice would be retained. Our final point is: though she is just eight years old in movies, competition has spiralled and new girls are coming in hordes, including star kids like her. How does she look at the competition?
“There’s work for everyone today, with so many platforms opening up opportunities that were not there even when I started out — television, streaming platforms for web series, short films and all that,” she opines. “In fact, I turned down a web series only because I could not see myself in the role, but I am open to it on principle. As I said, I am only interested in doing good work. And roles I have not done before.”