(From L to R)
Janhvi Kapoor, Vineet Kumar Singh and Karisma Kapoor
One of the things I like about this generation of women actors is that they do not necessarily conform to the coy code. Janhvi Kapoor is one of them. She knows she doesn’t have to struggle to put food on the table. She knows she has the love of millions because of who her mother was. But she doesn’t take it for granted and is willing to work hard to achieve what she wants. Since she made her cinematic debut with Dhadak in 2018, she has done some good work, in a segment of Netflix’s Ghost Stories, shot beautifully by Zoya Akhtar, in Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl in 2020, and in Roohi last year. Now she is all set for the release of Good Luck Jerry, a remake of Nayanthara’s Kolamaavu Kokila. Changing the setting to Punjab and making Kapoor a Bihari migrant has given the dark comedy a different flavour. Much like Jerry, Kapoor found her own voice through the making of the movie. She liked that Jerry was unapologetic and wanted to take control of her life. Unlike Jerry, though, in real life she doesn’t have to do unethical things. Going forward she says this will be the leitmotif of her next few performances, in Mili, a remake of the Malayalam film Helen by Mathukutty Xavier; Bawaal, directed by Nitesh Tiwari; and Mr & Mrs Mahi with Rajkummar Rao where she plays a cricketer. “This struggle to find your own agency is one that most girls of my generation are going through,” she says. At 25, she is still in the process of growing into herself, but she knows she doesn’t want to fit into any boxes professionally or personally. She has a long wishlist of directors she wants to work with. “I’m no Meryl Streep so I need to go after what I want,” she says. She has auditioned for Neeraj Ghaywan, Shashank Khaitan, Luv Ranjan and even Karan Johar. She has been trying to get a meeting with Imtiaz Ali, Rohit Shetty and Sanjay Leela Bhansali. “I literally stalked Nitesh,” she says of the Dangal director. “I sent him a lot of eager messages and started prepping for the film even before I was confirmed. I have no ego. Why should I? I have so much to learn.” She is delighted to learn from co-stars such as Pankaj Tripathi in Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, Mita Vashisht as well as Deepak Dobriyal in Good Luck Jerry and Varun Dhawan in Bawaal. “They have different approaches to their craft but their passion for films is all-consuming,” she says. It’s a real perk of the job. As for the void left by her mother, actor Sridevi, it will always be there, she says. “If there was anyone who knew her, it was I,” she adds.
The Big Screen
Anurag Kashyap’s Mukkabaaz (2017) made Vineet Kumar Singh a name to reckon with in the film industry and got him key roles in series such as Bard of Blood (2019) and Betaal (2020). Now he plays a Bihari politician with a penchant for novels and old Hindi film songs in Zee5’s Rangbaaz 3: Darr ki Rajneeti. He enjoyed the process of playing a character across three decades of his life, changing his physicality, modulating his voice and altering his energy levels. He started prepping for it over three-and-a-half months ago, giving up other jobs, and working on the character. But Mukkabaaz which saw him play a lower-caste boxer, up against discrimination, showed him what box office success can do. And that’s what he is chasing now, with scripts written by his sister, Mukti Singh Srinet. “In this industry, you don’t matter until you deliver box office numbers,” he says, and to that extent, he adds, only his sister can understand his angst. “How hard you work doesn’t matter, neither does the honesty of your effort. What matters is the box office. Everyone praises your performance but those you want to work with want to work with someone else. So while OTT is great and allows you experiments like Rangbaaz, how can a small film with 300 screens compare with 3,500 screens? And your film will get the screens only if it or your previous film gets the numbers.” It’s a vicious cycle, but one he is determined to break. “It’s like my English exam,” he says with a laugh, of his time at Varanasi’s Udai Pratap Autonomous College.
Scene and Heard
Helen, Soni Razdan and Karisma Kapoor. Three generations of actors in one series based on Abheek Barua’s City of Death filmed by Zee Studios. What could be more delicious than Brown: The First Case?