on’t love or hate me for being someone’s child’: Janhvi Kapoor – Janhvi comes across as a confident and talkative girl. She often speaks candidly and then reflects, “I shouldn’t have said that, no?” The newcomer, whose debut film Dhadak released yesterday, knows that she can’t escape comparisons with her mother, late actress Sridevi. But she doesn’t want those thoughts to “put pressure on me”. In a no-holds-barred interview, the 21-year-old talks about her relationship with her late mother, why she wants to prove herself before working in a home production with dad Boney Kapoor and the much-debated topic of nepotism. Over to her.
You said you were a filmy kid…
Absolutely. My mom and dad used to call me ‘full drama’. Mom had many videos of me as a kid where I was doing some dance moves, and suddenly the next moment, I was on the floor (laughs). I still have many of those videos!
You have been launched by Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions. That’s probably a dream debut for any newcomer.
Definitely. As a production house, they are so well-equipped and know so much about the business. But more than that, I’m grateful for the amount of love that everyone on this team has shown me. Karan, especially, gets very invested. It’s like a personal thing for him. You feel taken care of, but again, if you are doing something wrong, they will call you out as well.
A lot of has been said about nepotism. What’s your take on it?
Honestly, I understand people’s opinion on it. But it’s important to understand that it exists in every industry and it’s a bad thing if the person who has been given an opportunity is complacent or takes it for granted. People shouldn’t think that something is their birthright. They need to prove themselves. Look at Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor. Their films have done well and they have entertained so many people. I’m not putting myself in their category, but what I’m asking is for people to not love or hate me because I’m someone’s child. Give me a chance to prove myself because there’s nothing that I love more than acting. I feel a sense of responsibility towards anyone who feels that I don’t deserve to be here as there are so many others struggling to get into films. I recognise that this opportunity has come to me a little easier than it would otherwise have. But I’ll work that much harder to prove that I am worthy of it.
Do you feel the pressure of expectations and comparisons?
Yes, definitely. Earlier, that was something my mom would worry about. She had once said, ‘I hope you’re not compared to me because I have done 300 films and this is your first’. I, somehow, never thought about it. I feel the pressure more now than I did when I was shooting Dhadak. I hope that since my family, especially my mom, has got so much love I don’t disappoint the fans. I am trying to create my own identity, too.
At home, do you discuss films with your family?
Organically, this is the only thing I know because when we spend time together as a family, we watch movies. All our discussions are about films and work that we are doing or want to do, or what we have recently seen and liked. Mom was a very creative and artistic person and papa is a producer. I’ve grown up in an extremely colourful environment at home and I haven’t been exposed to anything else.
Your mom had seen a few rushes of the film. What was her reaction?
She was very honest. The thing with her was that she never gave compliments easily. She loved me a lot, but I had to accomplish something to get a compliment from her. She would always tell me that her mom never told her when she had acted well or praised her for a good shot. Maybe, she was reserving her comments for the film’s release. But yes, after seeing the rushes, she was very happy and said a lot of sweet things. She was definitely proud.
Arjun Kapoor (your step-brother) has always maintained that he didn’t want to be launched under his home banner. Do you think alike?
Yes, I feel the same way. For Dhadak, I went through a bit of a process with the readings and all. Papa would have done anything to launch me. But I want to earn as much credibility as I can before working with him.
Now that Dhadak has released, is there another project on the horizon?
I wanted Dhadak to come out first. I don’t want to force myself down people’s throats. I want them to know me as this character and then let them decide whether I’m worthy of another opportunity.