Lucky this time?

Lucky this time?

Few actors, especially star-progeny, have had as nightmarish a break as Harshvardhan Kapoor in last year’s cataclysmic disaster Mirzya. Will his new film, the vigilante drama Bhavesh Joshi Superhero, change his luck? Yes, he is already doing one more film, Bindra, a biopic on businessman and Olympic shooter Abhinav Bindra.

But Anil Kapoor’s son, who released his film on Friday, in competition with his father’s and sister Rhea’s production Veere Di Wedding, starring his other sister Sonam Kapoor, realises the need to connect with the audience and feels that Bhavesh… is as mainstream as it gets.

New superhero in town 

What was his understanding of this film, as it was not a typical superhero film like a Krrish? Harshvardhan says, “Well, the idea behind the film is that we have a superhero within all of us, and we live in a corrupt, broken society where people openly do things that are against the law, from a small thing like not bothering about a red light, spitting or littering to bigger things. If you can live life with honesty, courage and bravery in such a world, then it makes you a superhero. There is this guy who wants to do the right thing, which is not easy, and you have to stand up for it.”

Essentially, says the actor, this is a vigilante film, and vigilantes are created from unresolved conflicts of society, and they go beyond the justice system when it is broken or not transparent.

Harshvardhan does not personally agree with this. “It’s not the right thing to do because there is a justice system in place, but sometimes it is the only way. Here, it is connected with a larger overall theme. Like with Rang De Basanti, it is about the quote ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’, though the heroes break the law finally. It’s a very beautiful thought and comes from an honest and sincere heart. Even though Mumbai is taken in the same breath as New York, London or Tokyo, people here do not have the same respect for law as in those cities.”

We go to the obvious question next, of the clash with his family picture, so to speak. “Well, initially we were to come on May 25, but for several commercial and creative reasons, and then the two studios got together and decided on this date,” he answers. “There were other dates on which we could not release my film, to clash, for example, with biggies like Race 3 and Sanju. These guys know what they are doing, and our two films can co-exist as they are of different genres. Besides, ours is a small movie, not a 100-crore film that needs 3,000 screens, so we are fine with around 800-850 screens.”

The film was also planned about five years ago, and the script was reworked completely after the change of government. “The film is in Vikram’s (Vikramaditya Motwane, the director) head. The conflicts are very relevant today, so the script has been changed completely,” declares Harshvardhan. “A lot of things in the country, however, have not changed as they cannot be fixed overnight because there have been a lot of wrong decisions from a series of governments over the years.”

Is it only the governments, or, as the film suggests, even people, are to blame? “It is a combination of both,” he says. “It’s the people who live their lives, not just about the corruption in high places. If I live my life honestly, someone may follow me and very soon it will be a movement.”

When asked how important is it to internalise a character, Harshvardhan says, “I think, for me, external aspect and emotional preparation go hand in hand. For example, if you are riding a horse and shooting with a bow in Rajasthan, you are put in the environment and have the right hair, make-up and costumes, so you start believing in the character and in that world at that moment.”

Getting it right

He goes on, “For Bhavesh Joshi…, the production house rented us an apartment in the suburbs where my co-star and I lived together for two months. We would do everything together like two normal boys. Obviously, it is not possible to completely break off from your roots because I have led a privileged life at home. I may have first-world problems, whereas the guy in Dharavi has day-to-day problems. So, I had to feel like Bhavesh.”

How easy is it to switch off then? “With Mirzya, it took a lot of time. It’s like heartbreak after your first love. With later heartbreaks, you learn to move on! Besides, Bhavesh Joshi is more contemporary, like me, and set in Mumbai.”

Harshvardhan admits that vigilante films may not change the world but they can increase awareness at least. “Like among superheroes, I like Batman because his stories are based on real issues, and he can get hurt and can die,” he 

The actor concedes that he liked the trailers of both his films so far, but the audiences rejected Mirzya. “We make 200 films a year, of which, maybe, only 15 make money, which does not mean the rest are bad!” he explains. “Even Bhavesh... is a word-of-mouth film, not a first-weekend movie. But I want the film to work because it will make things easy for me to do the kind of movies I want to.”

He admits that he has studied screenplay, the audience likes and dislikes, and the ‘dos and don’ts’ now. “Mirzya was completely art-house, though I got to work with one of the finest writers in Gulzar-sir and directors in Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra-sir. Indian films are a little dialogue-heavy and things need to be explained. Mirzya was visually beautiful but relied on silences. It ended up being abstract.”

Harshvardhan denies modelling his career on his father Anil Kapoor’s early footsteps when he mixed more offbeat films and characters with the mainstream. “My father did all kinds of movies, as he knew his craft so well that he did not have to be convinced about a character,” he says. ‘‘I have not reached that level yet. Maybe, I will open up with time. But right now, I have to be completely convinced about the story and my role, and I cannot fake it.”

“Things are different today than in my father’s time,” he explains. “In those days, they could do five to six films at a time. I prepped for Mirzya for 18 months and shot for 90 days, and shot for Bhavesh... for 80 days after prepping for 45 days. I am learning shooting with an air rifle forBindra now.”

Happy that he is getting to work with his father in Bindra, he would love to do a film with sister Sonam as well, and if he gets a good script, with all three of them. And he would also love to do a“relatable” horror film, a “straight-faced, witty” comedy and a few light films. “I am already exhausted. After Bindra, I will be dead!” he says.

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