Harshvarrdhan Kapoor – emblem of refinement, class and talent
We attempted coalescing characteristics of a personality like creativity, ingenuity, ebullience, and perspicacity all combined together in one person. And the name of Harshvarrdhan Kapoor rightly lived up to all these parameters for the face of our Cover.
Creativity is the name of the game for him and unlike the contemporaries of his age, he is not the one to succumb to the ornate and ostentation be it films, fashion, or his way of life. He has unbridled his inner spirit to let go of certainties and experiments to generate new breakthroughs. The young and dynamic actor prefers to apply his insightful sense with the courage to follow his heart and instinct. “For me, my creative drive and my creative instincts are much, greater than the greed and ambition of wanting to become a star. I will not compromise on my sensibility and my creative integrity to do something that I do not believe in. And If you do something you are so passionate about it ends up resonating with people”, he speaks with clarity and conviction, with a progressive mindset that makes him distinct from the pack. His proclivity and perspicacity for experimentation and ingenuity are conspicuous from the choice of work he made. And the recent recognition, his movie Bhavesh Joshi has gathered on the OTT platform only proves the point. “I was just following my instincts, everybody is talking about Bhavesh Joshi and now people want a sequel. I did not expect Bhavesh Joshi to do a lot of numbers, but I did expect that when the film will come to a digital platform it will resonate with people and it will talk to people, I think Bhavesh Joshi is even more relevant now. And for me, it is a most successful film because if you take out the Box Office collections, it is still being talked about and it is listed on the best 200 films of all times in IMDB list and 85% of Google users love it and it has got millions of views on YouTube, so if you quantify all that, I think that’s great.”
Refinement and class trickle down to him from his progenitors and remains the most intense mode of individualism for him. “I like luxury, but even the luxury clothes I wear are from designers whose vision and art I respect. I like people who experiment with their clothes and that is what I do. If I have to define it I would probably say, I dress like an artist who is on his path of constant learning, self-discovery, and experimentation, but also has the taste for finer things in life.” He has finally got the Guernsey and share of stardom for sure. Divya Khanna, Associate Editor, High on Persona, had a candid conversation with the very dynamic, astute, and full of beans Harshvarrdhan Kapoor and dwelled into his personal and professional space. He remains excited with the overwhelming response to his performance in AK vs AK and we simply can’t wait to see him succeeding in his upcoming project, a Netflix Orignal Film, a thriller Drama, and another project which is Abhinav Bindra’s Biopic. His candid replies left no doubts that he is certainly up and destined to achieve greater heights.
Q. AK vs AK has been a great hit. How was your experience with it? You had a very precise but significant role in the film. How did you take it?
First of all, thank you for your lovely wishes. AK vs AK was a lovely experience overall. There were so many facets to my experience first, it was my second time working with Vikram and we have not shot a film together for a very long time. We shot for Bhavesh Joshi in 2017 and then we shot AK in 2020, so it had a long gap which was interesting as after such a long time Vikram and I ended up working together. The second facet was working with my dad (Anil Kapoor), and the third unique thing about AK was I was playing the fictionally exaggerated characters of myself, so there was a lot to digest.
My role was not long, but the scenes that Vikram had written for me was very challenging, especially that 3-4 min long monologue and the dining table scene. So when I read the script I realized that this monologue scene was the longest in the entire film and it was not like other conversational scenes it was more like a theatrical performance and It is not something we are used to in our normal life, so I was very anxious about it. So, I took the script and worked on it for over a month because I wanted to make sure that those 10 minutes that I am in the film, break the tension and make people laugh and they just are crazy. And the best thing was that it was shot in one take, there were no cuts, so I enjoyed it thoroughly. I was very nervous about it but it turned out well.
Q. Harsh, the films that you have done in past be it Mirzya or Bhavesh Joshi, both have been great films and are being discussed on different film platforms but they both failed to resonate with the masses, what do you think was the reason behind it?
Because they are not the films for the masses and I knew that before doing them. I have seen my dad (Anil Kapoor) acting for so many decades and I have even seen Sonam (Sonam K. Ahuja) being an actress for now over 10 years. I understand the films that work at the box office, but I still choose to do them. Because for me my creative drive and my creative instincts are much greater than the greed and ambition of wanting to become a star. Not that I don’t want that, we all want the same things.
I would have been ecstatic if Bhavesh Joshi had made 50 crores. It would have made my life a lot easier, but I will not compromise on my sensibility and my creative integrity to do something that I do not believe in. I would rather give audience films like Bhavesh Joshi even if there is a higher risk of them not working because if you do something you are so passionate about and it ends up resonating with people. That is the best feeling in the world and that makes your foundation very strong. Suppose, if I do a film that does well, but I do not believe in it and don’t plan to do anything like that in the future then that puts me in a tough spot because now the audience would probably expect me to do something similar to that. You know, so I was just following my instincts, and then in the last year the whole world changed due to pandemic and now everybody is talking about Bhavesh Joshi and they even want a sequel that only shows how this was an underrated film of 2018. And to be honest with you, I did not expect Bhavesh Joshi to do a lot of numbers, but I did expect that when the film will come to a digital platform it will resonate with people and it will talk to people. And I am so glad that it happened.
It’s all about longevity. We don’t remember the first three days or the collection of Godfather, everybody talks about how great the film is and I think Bhavesh Joshi is even more relevant now than it was when it came out. And for me, it is a most successful film because if you take out the Box Office collections, it is still being talked about and it is listed on The Best 200 Films Of All Times in IMDB list and 85% of Google users love it and it has got millions of views on YouTube, so if you quantify all that, I think that’s great.
Q. Also when it came out it clashed with Veere Di Wedding maybe that is the reason why it could not do the number you were expecting?
Maybe, if it came out on a regular Friday it might have done better, but I don’t think it would have made much difference. I always believe Box Office is an indication of how keen an audience is to consume a film. It is not always a clear reflection of the quality of the film, they are two very different things. If you see a fancy restaurant from a mile away, you get curious to go and eat food at that restaurant however, the food does not turn out to be so good, but by that time you have already paid the bill. Maybe, Bhavesh Joshi, the restaurant did not look as glamorous from the outside, but when people went in and ate they realized that the food is really good, so now people keep going back to eat the food. And that’s the way I kind of look at it I would rather make good food than have a fancy restaurant.
Q. A career advice that you have received from Anil sir or your sisters that you still follow?
Be true to yourself and don’t try to imitate something you are not.
Q. You come from a family of actors so you have seen everything, all the hardships behind the shimmer. What are the challenges you think yours or Janhvi’s generation have to face that Anil Sir or Sanjay Sir didn’t face?
Well, scrutiny, Social Media, the world has completely changed now and our obsession with social media has an impact on it. I think it used to be a big advantage of being from a film family, but now it has kind of changed over the years. I can’t even compare myself to anyone else because I am not claiming to be like someone else. I am just an actor who happened to be from a film family and if anybody knows me personally they will tell you that I am obsessed with films and I am deeply into the process of what I do and that’s not just acting when I do a film like the one I am doing right now, I creatively try to bring whatever I can and collaborate with people I am making the film. My whole view is very different on it. Everybody will have their opinions, but in the end, I just want people to watch films like Bhavesh Joshi, Mirzya, and AK, and understand what I am trying to do. That’s what I can hope for.
Q. Would want to ask about your upcoming projects and when will they be hitting the theatre?
I’m, but It is a Netflix Original Film and it’s a thriller Drama. I will complete shooting for it by the 22nd of February and I have been here in Rajasthan since the 28th of December. And it will be out I think by the end of the year.
Q. When can we expect Abhinav Bindra’s release?
Abhinav Bindra, we will shoot this December in Chandigarh, so you can probably expect to see it in cinemas in 2022. Hopefully, by then, the vaccines will be widespread and I get to have my next big-screen release. The reason it has taken so long is that we have been working on the script. Saiwyn Quadras, who wrote the script of Neerja, has been working on the script. We have a new director, Heeraz Marfatia whose short film Birju was nominated for The Oscar. We have been ambitious about Abhinav Bindra’s Biopic so we didn’t want to rush into it and make it just for the sake of making it. We wanted to make sure that everybody is really happy with the story. As whenever you are making a film about someone’s life there can be many directions you can turn the film to, so we all needed to be on the same page about that.
Q. So from your Instagram, we know you have been very particular about your looks and sense of style but if you would have to define it in a sentence, what would it be?
I am very artistic and a bit of a free-spirited person, so I don’t like to be bound by norms of society whether it’s my films or clothes, all are part of that same theme. I don’t like to live my life in conventional ways and the way I dress is a reflection of that. Whatever I wear has a meaning to it. I like luxury, but even the luxury clothes I wear are from designers whose vision and art I respect. I like people who experiment with their clothes and that’s what I do. if I have to define it I would probably say, I dress like an artist who is on his path of constant learning, self-discovery, and experimentation, but also has the taste for finer things in life.
Q. So everyone in your house is a style connoisseur, do you have similar inclinations and interests or you make your own rules in terms of fashion or fitness?
With fashion, I dress in my way. It is very hard to compare it with anybody. I am a big fan of unique pieces, so I like to wear pieces that are hand-painted or where there is the meaning behind the garment. I also like to wear unisex clothes, I like oversize clothing, but then I also like clothing that is true to its size. So you know it’s hard for me to describe it. I guess I am pretty versatile because, on one hand, I like ripped denim and hoodies but on the other hand, I also like athleisure and I love wearing suits. I am a collector of shoes and jackets, so I have a huge collection of shoes and jackets. And they all are very unique in their way and they are something I would like to age with.
And in terms of fitness, I believe in intermittent fasting, so when I am in Mumbai, and I am not shooting I end up fasting for 14-16 hours most days. In addition to that, I like to walk; I walk around 10,000 steps a day. I don’t eat a lot when I am in Mumbai. I feel intermittent fasting is good for the people who are reading or seeing this, It is really good for your digestive tract and your hormonal system. So I would recommend this and eating things that you enjoy, but in moderation, don’t deny or deprive yourself of certain food. I would say fast and then eat what you want in small quantities.
Q. Flipside of a descendant of an Icon is that people start comparing you with your predecessors, does this build an undue performance pressure on you to do the best?
There are many dimensions to this question, there are many layers. I think it ultimately comes down to what direction you as an individual want to take your career into. What sort of films you are drawn to because your choices speak volumes about your taste, sensibilities, and personality. I have not done any typical traditional Bollywood movies. Also, I have never been launched as Anil Kapoor’s son. And I know people will still draw comparisons. But I think drawing comparison is very silly as people are not able to comprehend one’s individuality. And without really realizing who this person is and what his work stands for, judges him.
So I think it’s a bit limiting. But my idea is to do a bunch of films over a while that kind of create my own identity. It’s a long road where you have to have patience, but I think it works for me because I never came into the industry wanting to be an overnight superstar, that is not the kind of person I am and I think my choices reflect that. There always will be people who will have a say on what I should be doing, but I don’t care about that. I only care about what I want to do.
Q. In 90’s films, Anil Kapoor maintained and went for a lean look, while others went for bulky and muscular looks, and when I see you and other actors of your generation, I feel the same, so does your idea of fitness resonate with him?
I like to be lean, slim, and muscular. I am 5’11”. I have put on some muscle mass for the film I am doing, so at present, I am 74-75 kilos. But normally I am 70 kg. I like to be very lean and slim and have a low body fat percentage and just be very active and fit. I also like to be on a slimmer side because I believe I photograph better and my clothes fit me better, so I don’t like to be too bulky.
Q. How mischievous and naughty as kids you, Sonam, and Rhea were? Who used to get scolded most of the time?
I don’t have so many clear memories from my childhood, but I was a very quiet child. Sonam (Sonam K. Ahuja) was probably the most mischievous child and got scolded the most.
Q. Dubai or London, if you have to pick a place for staying for the rest of your life?
London, hands down!
Q. Harsh, are you a foodie or a strict calorie counter?
Right now, I am eating a lot because I have to be on the heavier side for a film. I am the kind of person who if stops eating becomes slim quite easily. I do like food, but I also don’t like to put on weight, so I am not too much of an indulger.
Q. Tell us about the cafes or restaurants that you like to visit in Mumbai?
I spend a lot of time in Soho House. I like places with Beach View, so I like Estella. I used to like Pali Village cafe before it shut down. I like the whole Carter Road to Bandstand area. I also like The Table at Colaba and Harbour Bar in Colaba at The Taj Hotel.
I like Colaba, it gives you a sense of time and place that is kind of missing now. I think most places have now become commercialized with so many restaurants and tall buildings and I am not a very big fan of that whole vibe. I like one of the kinds of restaurants and not chains. I like when places have a bit of a character.
We know about your love for sneakers, so we planned a sneak peek of your rack, but since you are not at your home we have a bunch of questions for you :
Q. Your last purchase?
I got sent a pair of red and grey Nike Dunk UNLV low-on-feet sneakers from Veg Non-Veg store, which is my brother-in-law’s shop.
Q. If you have to wear only one sneaker for the rest of your life, which one would that be?
Air Jordan 1 Chicago from 1985.
Q. Which one is AK’s favorite?
He likes the Pink Nike Zoom Fly sneakers that he wore in AK vs AK, in the corridor walking scene
Q. Most expensive pair that you own?
I own some pretty crazy shoes. I have Red October that was the last shoe that Kanye West designed for Nike before he left for Adidas it is worth 7-8 lacs which is pretty crazy then I have Air Jordan 1 that also worth a lot of money so I have a few
Q. An all-time classic?
Air Jordan 1 Chicago
Q. One that you would want to wear at your next film’s screening?
Dior x Air Jordan 1 High because I wore them in the film that I am about to be seen next.
Q. A pair that you purchased sometime back but don’t feel like wearing now?
I have Yeezy Boots from Adidas which I am not very comfortable in so I am going to get rid of them.
Photographs by Ishaan Nair
Styled by Vinita Makhija