Janhvi Kapoor on carrying Sridevi's legacy with Dhadak: Won't be satisfied if I just lived off my parents

Seema Sinha

Jul,17 2018 10:14:55 IST

For 50 long years, legendary actress Sridevi's movies enthralled cine lovers but for her elder daughter, Janhvi Kapoor, it was “hard” to watch her mother’s films albeit she has watched only a few of them.

“I remember watching English Vinglish at the Toronto film festival. I was clenching my nails into the seat because that character Sapna who played her daughter was so rude to her,” says Janhvi with a look of slight disgust. “Long back, I remember watching Chaalbaaz when I was a kid and at one point, I found that they (Sridevi's co-stars) were so mean and rude to her so I couldn’t sit through the film. But I loved Sadma because she made Kamalji (Kamal Haasan) cry,” laughs Janhvi, looking mighty pleased.

The star kid steps into Bollywood with her maiden venture Dhadak, an adaptation of the Marathi phenomenal hit Sairat (2016), which is slated to release on 20 July.

Janhvi Kapoor. Facebook

Janhvi Kapoor. Facebook

It was only in the recent past that Janhvi realised what a phenomenal performer her mother was. “I've seen her on the sets of English Vinglish and MOM. Just to see her make that switch as an actor, from one second being my mom and yelling at me, to giving a shot. That's the first time I realised there's something very special about her,” says Janhvi. She sits for this interview sans make-up and dressed in a simple pista green chikan kurta paired with a long skirt and white dupatta.

While Sridevi may have wanted to give a “relaxed” life to her children, Janhvi instead wanted a “fulfilling” one. “I don't think I will be satisfied if I just lived off what my parents gave me even as mom believed that she’s worked this hard because she wanted her children to have it easy. My parents have worked very hard to get where they are. People sometimes underestimate how hard being a producer or an actor can be,” says Janhvi, who comes across as a committed professional, a quality that she has probably inherited from her mother.

Someone who is a self-confessed wreck in times of extreme emotional turmoil, to get back on sets to complete the film shoot just a few days after a personal tragedy (her mother’s demise), says a lot about the  21-year-old’s professionalism. “The only thing I wanted to do was to continue working because I realised that it’s probably the only thing that would keep me sane,” says Jahnvi. She looked terrified facing a huge gathering a few weeks ago at the film’s trailer launch but has transformed into a confident person.

A few years ago, Sridevi has spoken about not being keen on her daughters entering films. Janhvi, perhaps with the help of her producer-father Boney Kapoor — who she calls “a typical Kapoor with that bindaas attitude” — could finally convince her mother. Sridevi's fear essentially stemmed from the fact that there would be constant comparison with her. “Mom would keep saying that she has done 400 films and Dhadak is my first film but the world will compare my debut film to her 400th.. She was very scared about that but I would say, ‘Mumma , I love acting, I will work hard, I promise'. I had this very naive and idealistic outlook about it but now I am beginning to understand that some people do have these expectations. I feel a sense of responsibility towards her fans, I want to earn that same kind of love. That motivates me,” says Janhvi, further adding, "Also, my mum thought that I was naive, that I wasn’t thick-skinned enough to survive in this industry."

When asked if her mother shared stories about her struggle in the industry, Janhvi says, "My mother’s struggle was never to prove herself because she started out as a child artist. My bedtime stories were all about her shoots. She told me funny stories. So her stories were like, I had 103 degrees fever, but I was dancing in the rain, my co-star was burping but I had to pretend to be in love with him... She painted such a colourful world,” says Janhvi.

While she was preparing for the big day of going on set, her producer Karan Johar was embroiled in this huge controversy about nepotism that rocked the industry in a way it never did during her mom’s time. “I understand why some people might feel robbed of an opportunity and feel that I have got it relatively easily. I can understand where their frustration is coming from. It is horrible to feel like that with the kind of struggle that goes into it. But I value this opportunity. It would be wrong if I act as if it was my birthright to be here. I want to work harder for those people who think that I robbed them of an opportunity because I am sure that there are people who are much better looking and much more talented," says Janhvi.

“But why should I sacrifice this opportunity that has been given to me just because there might be other people? What I will do with this opportunity is what is more important. It’s a big deal for me too. I’m in love with this craft and profession. I want to entertain, I want to move people with my work, and it’s all coming from an honest and genuine place,” she adds.

Janhvi is obviously aware of people's love for the iconic film Sairat, the inspiration for her film, and that there is bound to be comparisons between her character Parthvi and the one played by Rinku Rajguru, who received a Special Mention from the jury at the National Film Awards for her stellar portrait of Archie aka Archana. Rinku was barely 14-15 years of age when Sairat director Nagraj Manjule had offered her the role. Janhvi says that their world might be completely different but what is common between them is their strength and resilience.

Janhvi Kapoor in a still from Dhadak. YouTube

Janhvi Kapoor in a still from Dhadak. YouTube

“Archie is from Sholapur and Parthvi is from Udaipur. Archie is bolder and her strength is more apparent in her physicality but Parthvi’s strength lies in her silence. I loved playing the part because I am very different. If I get emotional about something then I become a wreck. So to play that was lot of fun. While watching the film, I felt attached to the characters and their love for each other. The movie’s climax left such a deep impact on me that I was left speechless,” says Janhvi.

She is still coming to terms with the excessive attention and she's been the hot favourite among paparazzi for some time now. “It is a bit weird and unnerving that all of a sudden, I am seeing so much of myself. Fortunately, a huge chunk of Dhadak was shot outdoors so it was away from paparazzi and cameras, although I am very thankful and flattered that I get this kind of attention. I know that I have done nothing to deserve this. Hopefully, after this film, people will appreciate my work and then I will feel that I have earned a little bit of it but as of now, I know that I shouldn’t take it too seriously,” says Janhvi.

Words of wisdom, but well, we are impressed with the youngster on the cusp of fame.

Updated Date: Jul 17, 2018 12:11 PM