Having lived with and survived the reputation of a ‘limited actor’, Shahid Kapoor has come a very long way. The actor is matured and evolved; well, his recent choice of films is a big testimony to that. And his next, ‘Udta Punjab’ is no exception. The actor, who is ready to welcome fatherhood soon, chats with Timesofindia.com and bares his heart about his colourful, obnoxious character in the film, difficulties in becoming Tommy Singh, why he was scared to take up the role of a drug addict, controversies about the film and issues with censorship. Excerpts:
Your role in ‘Udta Punjab’ is drastically different than any character you’ve played till date. Could you tell us something about it?
Tommy Singh is a messed up person; he has issues with himself. He is a rock star who is a cocaine addict and he is the most obnoxious character I have played till date. Hopefully you will love him somewhere during the duration of the film.
What was your reaction when you were approached for the role? It’s completely different than what you are in real life.
I was actually very scared to do the role because I wasn’t sure if I will be able to pull it off. I don’t drink alcohol and I haven’t tried anything in my life, so I essentially don’t know how it feels to be high. I told Abhishek, ‘You might have come to me as an actor but you think you have come to the right person?’ Abhishek said let’s not worry about that. He really backed me and said, ‘I believe you can play this part. I will back you throughout and tell you everything you need to know’. And that’s how the journey started. I guess it was important to take up the challenge to do something you actually have no experience of. I think that could be the most challenging thing you, as an actor, can do. So yes, this was the most challenging role of my career.
Like you said, you don’t drink and smoke and never had drugs. So how difficult was it to get into the skin of the character and become Tommy Singh?
I watched a few documentaries, I spoke a lot to Abhishek. But there is more to Tommy Singh than just drug addiction. He is a huge rock star and pretty funny. When you will see the film you will understand there is something really funny and entertaining about Tommy. Firstly, it was getting the physicality of the character – the body, the hairstyle, the tattoos, the body language and knowing the mind of the guy to understand why he behaves like that, and what is it that he is thinking.
‘Udta Punjab’ is facing a lot of censorship issues, what with the Censor Board demanding as many as 40 cuts in the film. Do you think it’s justified?
See, we are all talking about something that hasn’t finished its due course. The process is on. Any film that goes to the Censor Board is asked for cuts and you present your point of view; it’s a dialogue and at the end of the dialogue, a final decision is taken which is mutually accepted. So, the dialogue is still on and in the middle of the dialogue, I really don’t want to comment anything. Once the dialogue is over and I understand exactly where we stand, I will comment on it. Having said that, I did a film like ‘Haider’ which had very bold content and people loved the film and even Censor Board passed it. So, I think it’s time we allow content to be put out there that the audience want to see. The audience is evolved and accepting and acknowledging content that’s different and the message of ‘Udta Punjab’ is extremely positive. That’s what we need to focus on. It is saying something which is relevant and good and the message it spreads out will only benefit the society.
Very few actors have been audacious enough to play characters who are addicts, because the audience tends to form a strong image of an actor according to the characters they play. Were you apprehensive? When you see the film, you will understand that we are focussing on things that are relevant and topical issues that are spoken about. This is one of the biggest issues with filmmaking nowadays. People already decide everything before the film releases and before you put the finished product out there.
After the first trailer was out, Alia too received a lot of flak for her portrayal of a Bihari girl in the film. Do you think it was unnecessary and uncalled for? Like I said, people should first see the film before judging anyone or the character he/she has played. Is there anything wrong in playing a character who might be a farmer, who might be poor and dark because they work in the sun? Is it not worth telling a story about them? Are they not human beings? Don’t they exist? People of all types exist in all states of our country. I really failed to understand why she was criticised.