‘I must have done 100 auditions. I got rejected every time’


Kaminey may be his arrival. Shahid Kapoor talks to Manjula Narayan about his long journey there

Bang bang Charlie A scene from Kaminey
Bang bang Charlie A scene from Kaminey

SHAHID KAPOOR’S apartment is the typical den of a manchild. All deep brown and beige with faux antique ceiling fans, ornate pendent lamps and aged railway sleeper wood accents that are the rage with interior decorators with large budgets. Still, the 14th floor flat in Mumbai’s Versova looks like it could do with a woman’s touch. Not that the place is a mess. Far from it. The unused wooden ashtray, the gold inlaid glass bowl and the matching candles are all placed just so. Though Bollywood’s newest superstar shares his home with Kaiser, a large golden retriever with gentle eyes, no dog hair clings to the cushion covers, and though a practised housekeeper’s eye could perhaps detect an imperceptible film of dust under the sofa, the place is largely spotless. But there is a certain missing je ne sais quoi. Perhaps Kapoor’s Man Friday, a burly mustached Cadbury figure, had pushed everything into the next room minutes earlier. A peek into it reveals piles of files and papers and clothes tossed onto trunks. The couch in the living room corner facing a gigantic LCD screen is the one space that seems well used. In short, the place has ‘bachelor pad’ written all over it, and though no gaming paraphernalia is visible, you could bet there was a Playstation console complete with attendant thingamajigs in the bedroom.

Kaiser plays the host and makes muted doggy conversation, occasionally insisting that his head be stroked until Kapoor himself strides into the room. After days of phone tag with various publicists who speak of him in hushed tones, you expect a version of muscle bound Charlie in Kaminey, but dressed in a studiedly casual shirt thrown over jeans, his hair fashionably mussed and his feet shod in strappy leather sandals. In person, 28-year-old Shahid looks more like his character in Jab We Met. His eyes are earnest, his lower teeth endearingly crooked, and he exudes a quiet self-assurance.

On cue, Man Friday also affectionately addressed as “Maamu” brings in two mugs of coffee. Shahid balks at the mugs, which he pronounces not nearly good enough to be brought out in company. “These are the worst cups ever seen, you know. I hate them, but I’m this bachelor so I have no time to…” he trails off. The white china mugs with the thin red lines below the rim seem all right but clearly, Shahid is a control freak even when it comes to his coffee mugs.

It’s probably that quality, and a whole load of luck by chance, that has got him thus far in the Hindi film industry where fame is difficult to come by unless your family is well entrenched in the business. Shahid Kapoor’s family is famously not well entrenched in Bollywood. His mother Neelima Azim, she of the sparkly eyes who audiences still remember as Shehnaz from the 1980s Doordarshan serial Phir Wohi Talash, married actor Pankaj Kapur when she was 22. But Kapur left Delhi soon after to seek his dreams in Mumbai and the long distance relationship floundered.

Life would have been difficult for Neelima and her son. But her father, Urdu journalist, writer and wellknown leftist Anwar Azeem formed a protective cocoon around them.


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