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It has been over a year-and-a-half that Janhvi Kapoor has had a release since her debut film, Dhadak. And, the actor is set to cover up for this gap in 2020. In fact, she has started that right in the beginning of the year with her web anthology film, Ghost Stories, that’s already out. She has four more films — Roohi Afza, Dostana 2, Gunjan Saxena and Takht — lined up. In a freewheeling conversation, Janhvi talks about her digital debut, how it’s exciting to be a part of films that offer variety but at the same time, why she’s not a fan of putting them into any box.
Has it been a conscious call to experiment with extreme genres in your upcoming films?
People like to divide cinema into commercial or art, but I think it’s stupid to put labels on films. Every good film that has resonated with people has had something honest or fresh to say. If a film follows a specific criteria but is hollow and made with wrong intentions, it’s not going to touch anyone’s lives. So, all the films I’m doing, aspire to say something in whatever way — comedy, horror or drama.
How easy or tough was it to be part of a horror comedy, Roohi Afza?
It’s one of the most exciting, challenging, complicated, physically demanding and emotionally taxing roles that I’ve had the privilege of doing.
With Dostana 2, do you fear there would be comparisons with the first instalment?
Dostana (2009) became a cult classic and I hope we match that standard, fun, energy and glamour. But the story, characters and the sets are completely different and what we’ve to say is a little more emotional.
Next is a period drama, Takht. Have you already started prepping for your role?
Full-fledged prep will start soon. But when I signed the film, I immediately started learning kathak and Urdu. Although I knew we’ll shoot it almost a year later, I’ve been so fascinated by this era.
At such a young age, with a period drama like Takht, do you think there’s too much at stake?
I guess so, but I feel it’s something that might come more naturally to me than contemporary roles because I’ve subscribed to that cinema more. I prefer watching older films. Mughal-E-Azam (1960), Pakeezah (1972), Umrao Jaan (1981)… I’ve been obsessed with them and can relate to them.
You’ve just made your digital debut on Netflix with Ghost Stories. Was it more of a challenge to pick up this risky genre?
Today, I get asked a lot of technical questions about what went through my head while choosing this film, but for me it was just about working with Zoya Akhtar. The fact that the script and the character were so intriguing, moving and beautifully written, was a massive cherry on top.
As an audience, how much do you relate to horror as a genre?
I love watching horror films and observe the performances in particular. The girl who played Emily Rose in The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) did such a phenomenal job with her body language and voice. I loved Vidya Balan in Bhool Bhulaiyaa (2007) and Jyotika in Chandramukhi (2005).
At this stage of your career, what prompted you to make your debut on the digital platform?
I didn’t think it through like that. I think, web is a great place for content that you can’t otherwise have the freedom of exploring in feature films. Even the directors on these digital platforms don’t feel the pressure of commercial viability.
Was it taxing to switch between characters while shooting for your web film and other projects?
I didn’t have more than a day apart in between my shoots for Roohi Afza, Gunjan Saxena and Ghost Stories, and that was tough. Honestly, I was a little paranoid if I’m giving it enough, if I’m doing justice to this opportunity, if I’m present enough. There was a lot going on, but I really enjoyed that momentous phase.
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