Vaani Kapoor: A director’s actor

Vaani Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor in Shamshera. Photo: Yash Raj Films

She is a Yash Raj Films protégé, having debuted in Shuddh Desi Romance way back in 2013, to most of her later films like Aaha Kalyanam (the banner’s own South remake of Band Baaja Baaraat), Befikre and War. Last year, Vaani broke through with her first two outside assignments, BellBottom and Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, both of which did indifferent business in the movie halls.

But Vaani was hailed for her sterling performance in the latter film as a trans-woman, rising above all expectations her fans had from the glamour doll of Befikre and War. And now, she plays a touring performing artiste in the 1800s in her return to home ground—Shamshera.

“It’s a very different concept, and (director) Karan Malhotra’s brainchild and his vision are so beautiful!” she tells us when we meet. “His is a different thought process and ideology. Shamshera is an amazing film and a great role for me!”

She raves on, “I have never been a part of such a film, worked with a director as well as co-star (Ranbir Kapoor) so unique! So it was a unique experience, and I realized that I had to grasp new things. I was learning from the best, so subliminally, I was observing all this thought-process and so much was rubbing off on me. And I was soaking it all in, and it was enriching. I love the fact that Karan was making me push my limits to something I never knew I could do. And when directors like him push me, which is a thrill for me, it is scary but challenging and I thrive on it, as it is exciting in a strange way!”

Raving about her mentor banner, Yash Raj Films, she adds, “YRF believes in me most, and they have invested time, money and effort in me. I don’t even remember the number of auditions I have given here. And they are so fair and square, because they do not bother about your previous work or future line-up, how your last films fared, whether you are from within industry or not, or are established or otherwise! If you fit the bill you are in! Ethically, I find them so correct. I am very blessed that way.”

Vaani says, “I am also trying to challenge myself, pick my films as per what I think is my capacity.” Thanking us for our appreciation of her last performance, she states, “After Chandigarh…, people saw me in a different light. It was a very special film that motivates me and my faith in myself rose. I am hoping that the film industry, which also saw me differently, gives me those opportunities. I am willing to give my more than 1000 percent! I have to thank only Gattu (Chandigarh… director Abhishek Kapoor) for what I achieved!”

Coming to Shamshera, she has done a lot of horseback sequences, and comments, “My childhood was spent in a farmhouse-cum-animal shelter, with no neighbors as such. We had 80 to 100 dogs, along with ducks, horses and more. So I am not scared of animals, and I had a pony too as a kid. As for horses, they are very emotional, intelligent and moody animals. You just have to understand their wavelength. Life teaches you, but so do animals. They teach you compassion.”

Her director, Karan Malhotra, at this point, interrupts and tells you that the first time she tried getting on a horse for the shoot, the animal threw her off!

Regarding her future choice of movies, she says that things are a bit tricky right now. “At the end of the day, we have to surpass audience expectations as films are a business, so it is scary to try something new as well, but I hope I get more opportunities like Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui and Shamshera.”

What was her reaction when Chandigarh… did not click at the box-office? “I have never celebrated a success like War, but I was very depressed. I have now decided that I will celebrate success to the fullest, but get used to a failure that is beyond my control. I think that is imperative to keep a balance.”

Raving also about her co-star Ranbir Kapoor, Vaani feels that vis-à-vis her taking stress and over-thinking during shooting, he is a natural. “He has an effortlessness off-camera as well as on-screen. I really don’t know if Ranbir is gifted and blessed or it is his hard work that makes it all look so effortless. Very few people can achieve this. He also has no ego, carries no baggage, is a humble, ordinary person with huge focus who does not insist on a specific level of hotel or suite….”

At this point, Ranbir Kapoor quips, “Bas kar! Ab rulayegi kya? (Enough! Do you want me to cry)” reprising an immortal line from Munna Bhai MBBS!







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