Post the release of her film Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, Janhvi Kapoor sat down to discuss the response she received for her performance, and how she finds in her work-ethic, an echo of her mother, the late cinematic icon Sridevi. In these excerpts she discusses this work-ethic, how she deals with the accusation of privilege, and why she considers herself a ‘selfish actor’.
Before Karan Johar had announced Dhadak, I met him at the Dharma office to interview him for something else, and he told me then that you are one of the hardest working actors he has ever met. I want to know where the work ethic comes from. Were you always like this, or have you cultivated it?
A lot of the philosophy of Gunjan Saxena and what we were saying in the film, about how the only thing that’s in your hands is your hard work, has been my motto my entire life. That’s been something that my parents have inculcated in me- that the only thing you can do is work hard and if you work hard, with good intentions then you’ll get what you have to get.
The only thing I can do is work so hard that I don’t question myself at the end of the day.
This sense of privilege has been a baggage that I’ve carried my whole life. I’ve always felt, even from school, that I need to go the extra mile, maybe not for others, but for myself, so I feel like ‘Okay, I’ve done enough’. I have to tick mark all the boxes to work the hardest, I’ve to give it my all and then maybe I’d think, ‘I deserve the outcome’. Even in school when I would do presentations, there would be students, who’d be like, “Yeah, but your parents are famous, that’s why you got good grades.”
So I’ve carried this with me my whole life, that the only thing I can do is work so hard that I don’t question myself at the end of the day. For things that I am passionate about, for things that mean something to me and honestly acting and films is that in my life. It’s the only thing that holds this kind of importance for me – I’ll give it my all. I won’t stop till I give it everything in me. I can’t waste a minute.
That’s amazing, because sometimes it takes a while for that kind of work ethic to kick in especially if you come from privilege; it’s very easy to take it for granted, because it does come easier.
Yes, but the paranoia of being lazy is very apparent. After working on Gunjan and Roohafza which are fairly hectic characters and set-ups, when I went on to the Dostana 2 set and it was a little more relaxed, I remember getting paranoid feeling, ‘I am not sweating, I am not bleeding, am I not doing enough?’ But I won’t lie, a lot of the resistance from social media and the public, it fuels the fire in me a thousand percent and I am so grateful to them, because if it wasn’t for the resistance then maybe I would’ve gotten a little complacent and I would have never forgiven myself for that.t
Are you reading any scripts, have you read anything you like?
Yeah, I have read a couple of scripts, but honestly speaking, I was waiting for Gunjan to come out because I was just hoping that, people might see me in a new light and take me a little more seriously after it.
What do you mean take you seriously, are they giving you sort of very teenybopper roles now? What kind of roles were coming to you?
No, not teenybopper roles. After Ghost Stories, the roles that I was being offered weren’t exactly your conventional teenybopper roles and they did have a good amount of meat and backing to it. But I think I am a selfish actor. I look at a script as an opportunity to learn something. Is this the role that will be memorable, that I’ll idolize when I watch? Even if it means that I’ll get to sing and dance, but I just feel like there needs to be something that it is offering me and that I can offer to it. So, yeah, hopefully more of those will come my way now.