How did your mother Sridevi react when you told her that you wanted to become an actor?
She said, “Don’t get into it. I have worked my whole life so that I could give my kids a comfortable life and this life is not comfortable, so why do you want to put yourself through it?” And I said, “I love movies. I can’t live without being an actor.” Then she said, “If you love it that much then it’s okay.” But she also kept saying, “You’re too naïve and soft-hearted. You get carried away. You get hurt too much. You have to be tough in a different way to survive here and I don’t want you to become like that. I don’t want to deal with all of that”. She was protective of me and she said, “People will compare my 300 films with your first film. How will you deal with that?” I knew that it would be very tough but I knew that if I don’t act then I would be sad my entire life.
Your father Boney Kapoor has also turned to acting now. How did that happen?
He did a small act in ‘AK vs AK’ (a meta film featuring director Anurag Kashyap and Janhvi’s uncle Anil Kapoor). But after doing that he got a chaska (addiction) of acting. Because he got many calls praising his acting in the film. I think after watching that film, Luv sir (Ranjan) called him and said we have a character in our film which is based on you. The way they had created that character, their reference was Papa only. And they were not finding anyone to play that role so Luv sir asked him to do it. Papa was not ready. But then I told him not many people get a chance to do something new after having achieved so much in life. You should do it.
Many actors become complacent after receiving praise for their performances. How do you plan to control that in your career?
I am not that girl who lets appreciation and confidence get to my head. I have got this appreciation after hard work and I won’t take it for granted. I will use the confidence that appreciation has given me to improve my craft. Because I think if there was anything that I was lacking apart from technical skillset, it was the belief in myself and confidence. And after ‘Good Luck Jerry’, I will use this confidence to grow as an actor. That’s my only aim in life.
What advice did you give to your younger sister Khushi, since she has also forayed into acting with Zoya Akhtar’s film ‘The Archies’?
I’ve told her, just keep your head down and keep working. Be honest about your work. Don’t do it for any reason other than the fact that you love it. Because people will fault you regardless of what the outcome is. If you do something with clear intent, you won’t let any criticism bring you down. And that’s the only thing you can hold onto.
How passionate is Khushi about acting?
She is very passionate but not as mad as me.
It was very hard to make Sridevi speak in her interviews.
It is very hard to keep me quiet. But to be honest, if it was up to me, I wouldn’t do so many interviews. Itna lad-lad ke mujhe yahaan bithaya hai (My publicists have fought with me to convince me to partake in these interviews).
Historically, a friendship between two competing actresses was a rarity but your friendship with Sara Ali Khan is discussed in both film circles and with the fans. How did this friendship start?
We’ve known each other before we started our acting careers and we mentioned that in our Koffee With Karan episode, too. I really appreciated the way Sara is working and how hardworking she is, how real she is. She is so secure about herself that when we spend time together, the threatening energy between contemporaries never shows up between us. I always feel that I am spending time with my friend who wishes good for me. It is difficult to find such a bond in life, let alone in the film industry. It’s the same with Ananya Panday, too. I think all of us are secure enough to root for each other. And we genuinely like each other.
If you would ever like to remake one of your father’s and mother’s films, which ones would they be?
‘Woh Saat Din’. ‘Mr India’ is such an iconic film that I don’t think it should be touched. I don’t think even ‘Chaal Baaz’ should get remade, although there were talks about it. I don’t think any of my mom’s films should be remade. And if at all they are being remade, then they shouldn’t be remade with me because people won’t be happy at all. I will anyway fall short. There are similarities between me and her genetically. But I am a different person. With another actress filling in, it would be like it’s their interpretation. But with me, it would be too close to home and yet not be home at the same time. To be honest, even though it was one of Papa’s less successful films, I used to love watching ‘Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja’ as a kid.
What’s become of Michael Jackson’s painting by Sridevi?
I still have that painting in my room.
Have you inherited any of your mom’s traits or skills?
I like to paint. I sketch during the breaks on the sets. People say that my eyes resemble hers and my voice too. But I don’t know.
What about Sridevi do you remember the most?
Mujhe bas unki yaad aati hai (I miss her). I would not get off my bed until Mumma woke me up. My alarm would buzz. But then I would call Mumma. I wouldn’t step out of my room without seeing her face. And I wouldn’t sleep without saying good night to her.
Do you feel that you are criticized a little more because you’re Sridevi’s daughter?
Yes, of course. People are comparing my first four films with her 300 films. I don’t know about anything else but I want to make this career work for her. Naam toh roshan karna hee padega (I have to make her proud). I can’t leave it like that.
How do you describe your journey from ‘Dhadak’, your debut, to ‘Good Luck Jerry’, your latest release?
This is just the start. There’s a lot more left to do. This is only 5 percent of what my journey is going to be. I definitely feel more confident in what I bring to the table. I believe in my abilities. I feel confident to explore and try more things. I don’t second guess myself as much now.
The world of ‘Good Luck Jerry’ seemed like it was totally out of your comfort zone. How did you acquaint yourself with it?
Those were real environments that director Siddharth Sen created. It was not like I had to imagine that the set was uncomfortable. The set was indeed uncomfortable. When Jerry covers her mouth and nose because of the bad odour, it was actually stinking badly. So, I didn’t have to act that much. Because that setting and situations were so different from my real life.
Our director thoroughly made me understand where Jerry comes from and where she wants to go. I had worked a lot on the Bihari dialect and spent quite a lot of time understanding what a Bihari girl would feel staying in Punjab without having a father. So, we had a lot of discussions about the character. And by the time we came to the sets, I had clarity. We were able to improvise on the sets, too.
What is the best compliment that you have got for ‘Good Luck Jerry’?
I read two reviews that I liked because of what they had written about me. I think they understood what I was trying to do with the character. And Anurag Basu messaged me saying, “You’re very special”. I admire his work so it was special for me.
What’s the status of your father’s home production ‘Mili’?
I didn’t want to do Papa’s film just for the sake of it. The pressure and responsibility of working on a home production is altogether different. The story of ‘Mili’ is also simple. It’s a father-daughter story. I felt like it was the right film.
Fans and film industry folks tend to talk about your eyes a lot.
Really? Even in ‘Mili’, there is not much dialogue. It’s all about expressions. I think I have just started my journey and I will keep proving myself.