She’s young, she’s cool and she sparkles in front of the camera. I’ve known Shraddha Kapoor for over a year now. Bubbling with life, she’ll ping you on your Blackberry and before you reply, she’s off to sleep. Her first words to me are always, “What’s the gossip Nandu?” That’s Shraddha, carefree and breezy. Her first film Teen Patti failed to make its mark at the box office. And her second outing, Luv Ka The End, also didn’t exactly create magic. But Shraddha, with loads of chutzpah, is surely the find of the season.
We meet for lunch one Saturday afternoon at Pali Village Café. She’s there before me and has already placed the order. And boy can she eat! I feel like ‘a nibbling actress’ playing with my chicken salad as she polishes off two starters and a main course.
The daughter of the well-known Shivani and Shakti Kapoor, Shraddha was inevitably introduced to the film industry at an early age. “My dad would come home with make-up on, his attire would be weird, his hair peculiar and I’d ask, ‘Why are you dressed like this, papa?’ I had no clue what movies were all about. I wondered how he could be someone else on screen and be my dad off screen.” To the extent she even thought he had supernatural powers! This went on until one day, Shakti Kapoor, Indian cinema’s popular baddie, explained things and even suggested she could grow up and act too.
And Shraddha knew she wanted to face the camera. Her growing up years were enveloped in a bubble of compliments about her good looks and suggestions that she seek stardom. And her desire fortified. Her first film Teen Patti happened when producer Ambika Hinduja spotted her on her brother Siddhanth Kapoor’s Facebook account. She remembers, “Ambika saw my pictures on Facebook. She is friends with my brother Siddhanth but didn’t know I was his sister. Later, she put two and two together. The first time I actually got a role, it was with no help from dad. Technically, I got it on my own. They said, ‘Audition karo, if you’re good, we’ll take you.’ That was that.”
Teen Patti was a multi-starrer and not a solo launch. But she was keen to take it on as it was an Amitabh Bachchan and Ben Kingsley film. Unfortunately, the film tanked and Shraddha didn’t benefit from the film. She tells me, “Before Teen Patti released, I auditioned for a really important film. I was dying to get it.
I worked day and night and gave the audition my all. But I didn’t bag the part.” The film was Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s My Friend Pinto opposite Prateik. After Teen Patti released and tanked, Kalki replaced her in the film. This was a real blow to her. She adds, “When I received the call (about being replaced), I went to my mom and told her what had happened. After that I asked her to leave me alone. I went to my room and cried on my bed non-stop for three days.” Then she realised she had to do something about her life and career and that sitting at home wasn’t going to get her any work. Soon she got into the groove and started to look for work. In the process, she was offered a lot of trashy films. Plus, she got a lot of offers from the South for whopping amounts of money but refused because she wanted to concentrate on Hindi cinema. In fact, a fairly well known director even called her up and told her, ‘I’ve seen your first film Shraddha. Would you be interested in being part of an erotic thriller?’ Says Shraddha, “I didn’t know how to refuse him and rather coyly told him, ‘I’m not going into that territory for now’.”
But since she was a pretty face, she sure didn’t go unnoticed. One of India’s most prolific production houses, Yash Raj Films, called her for an audition. She knew she had her second lease of life. They gave her five scenes and two songs to prepare. But she went all out and prepared extra scenes and three songs for them. She excitedly says, “I thought to myself, ‘When Aditya Chopra sees this, his head has to explode. This audition can’t be mediocre, it has to be ‘the audition’, and it has to blow people’s minds’. I gave it my best shot and in a week even bagged the film!”
Director Bumpy’s Luv Ka The End seems to be a hit with the school and college going audience. It dealt with issues of an 18-year-old girl who decides to get back at her boyfriend for taking advantage of her. While the critics have panned the film for its lack of content, also calling it homophobic, she defends her movie saying, “I guarantee you that even the ones who’ve given it negative reviews have laughed a lot. Maybe there is a bit of gay humour here and there. So what’s the big deal, man, get over it, don’t take it so seriously. You’re not even supposed to take life so seriously, let alone this kind of humour. That’s why some people haven’t got it.”
Our conversation veers into more serious territory. I’m very curious to know how it was growing up with father Shakti Kapoor who played the rogue everyone loved to hate. Didn’t she get into fights in school defending him? She smiles, “Well, I never found myself defending him but a lot of my friends were wary of meeting him. I used to find it very funny.” She avoids commenting on the ‘cringe factor’ some of her dad’s films were known for. She says, “I haven’t seen many of my dad’s films that had the cringe factor. I haven’t seen Naughty @ 40. Of late, dad hasn’t been doing such roles. Also, people aren’t going to come up to me and say ‘Your dad wasn’t good in this film’. Who does that, right?”
How did she feel about the sting operation on her father in 2005 where he named some industry personalities being involved in the casting couch syndrome? She takes a minute and replies, “You know those headlines, the sting operation and the whole scandal…
I couldn’t take it the way they were talking about my dad. I just couldn’t watch it. But mom was actually the most pivotal, the strongest person at that point. She said you have to see this and face it. They not only overdid it, but I think my dad was made a scapegoat. It was absolutely wrong. That made me a lot stronger. I remember dad didn’t take that episode very well.” While the entire family was affected, they recovered quickly thanks to mother Shivani’s strength, says Shraddha. She adds, “My mother is very spiritual, she believes the downs in life are not permanent and pulled us through. She has seen a lot in life but she’s always been strong. These things happen in life and you can’t let them bog you down.”
Her elder brother Siddhanth Kapoor is also set to make his entry into showbiz. He is meeting producers and reading scripts looking for the right project. But not so long ago the young lad found himself at the wrong place at the wrong time. The police raided a club he was partying at with his friends. Reportedly, drugs were found and being a star son the media spotlight was on him. While he was eventually given a clean chit, it was again a testing time for the family. Shraddha remembers, “I remember my father and I were shooting together at that time. And both of us were really worried. Who wouldn’t be in such a situation? Luckily, he came out of it. A whole bunch of people were caught, weren’t they? Frankly, we’ve all heard of rave parties at nightclubs. He was out with his friends on a regular night. He just happened to be there and they busted the place.”
All this has only made the newest pin-up girl positive that the going is only going to get better. So is she single? “Maybe,” she answers. I ask her about her ‘close friendship’ with a certain Vanraj Zaveri and she quips, “Maybe. You’re getting none of this information out of me. It’s my personal life.” But her smile cannot lie. Single or not Shraddha has style and spunk like none other. She simply grows on to you.