Films are like oxygen to me. Ever since I remember, I always wanted to have a career in this industry. The sights, sounds and smells of a film set invigorated my senses. Clocking 141 kilos, clearly, acting was nowhere on my agenda. It was the craft of filmmaking that excited me. The very thought of painting pictures and telling stories seemed interesting. I had the option of going abroad to study filmmaking, but I decided against it. I thought I needed to gain hands-on experience and learn the nuances of filmmaking on the sets itself. I chose experience over education.
So I began with Karan Johar’s Kal Ho Naa Ho and assisted him on the film. I also worked in my father’s (Boney Kapoor) production company during the making of No Entry. I didn’t get to sit on the set and order people around. Like every other assistant director I arranged transportation, food and other things and was being told what to do and what not to do, basically a process of learning and un-learning. Hey, I even looked the punching bag! All in all, it was a true learning experience.
While I was working on No Entry, I met Salman bhai (Khan) and he was the first person who saw some kind of a potential in me. Yes, I know this story has been told a hundred times, but he was the one who ignited the spark of acting in me. He told me to seize the day rather than regretting it later. His words deeply impacted me. I had more weight than confidence. But it triggered something in me. I realised that not everyone gets such an opportunity and I wanted to make the most of it. And thus began my four-year-long journey to get into shape.
But shape is not all that matters. I needed to learn to act. So I joined the three month-long acting workshop at Barry John Acting Studio. With each day, I grew confident. The response was great. For the first time I felt that I could pull this off. I acted in a few short films and street plays. This experience boosted my confidence further. It is here that I learnt, as an actor, it is important that you do not take yourself seriously. It’s more about enjoying the moment when you’re in front of the camera. Post this, I also did a short course at Kishore Namit Kapoor’s acting institute.
By now, I had developed enough confidence to tell my father that I was ready to act. Thus began the search for the right script and director for me. At that point, I got an opportunity to audition and I told my father that if I got a break from another banner, I would go for it. I knew he would be the happiest person to know, I had made it on my own.
Soon, I auditioned for a role for Yash Raj Films’ Virus Diwan. Aditya Chopra saw my photographs and wanted to see me audition. He told me that talent always scored over looks. I was happy at getting a shot at acting, that too with a Yash Raj Film. Little did I know that it would be so difficult to nail. After a grueling audition, I was finally selected to play the lead in Virus Diwan.
But while I was waiting for the film to happen, I got another opportunity to audition for director Habib Faisal’s Ishaqzaade. I had to first go through a strenuous 45-day workshop, after which Habib sir relented and said that I could be a part of this film. I could be Parma… YES, I could be Parma!
There are people who feel I have got this opportunity just because I belong to a film family. They are allowed to say that because they are the audience. But I don’t think Aditya Chopra launched me because he wanted to do me a favour. He cast me because he saw something in me. And the film worked purely because the audience accepted Parineeti (Chopra) and me. I think I was accepted by the audience not because of my surname but because of what I did in the film.
I don’t know if I have created an identity of my own yet. I believe I have made people sit up and take notice, and I want people to see what I am capable of in my forthcoming films. The audience should want to spend money to watch my work and feel that I have given my 100 per cent to my performances.
I aspire to make my family more proud. I want to surpass the contribution that my father and uncles have made to the industry. I want to carve a niche of my own especially since, my family has given 25 years to Hindi films.
Thankfully, I have been offered a bunch of interesting films and it is all very overwhelming. I actually don’t know if I have the time to soak it all in. There is a lot happening in my life and I have become more focused now. Initially, I was just happy to be a part of this industry. Now, I have become ambitious and I would like to achieve a lot more. Even people’s perception towards me has changed.