Mumbai: As the grandson of Shashi Kapoor, newcomer Zahan Kapoor says he learnt at an early age that there are privileges attached to his surname, but he is motivated to “seek out” opportunities on his own.
He said it is a “blessing” to be part of the Kapoor family, regarded as the founding family of Indian cinema that started with the late Prithviraj Kapoor. Zahan’s grandfather Shashi Kapoor was a legendary actor and a filmmaker and his father Kunal Kapoor has also acted in a few movies.
“It is nice to be part of this family. It is a huge blessing and privilege at the same time, it is something that I am aware of. It motivates me to be the best I can. I try not to take the pressure too seriously but it is an inspiration,” the actor, who made his debut with Hansal Mehta’s “Faraaz”, told PTI in an interview.
“I am here trying to do something. I didn’t ask for favours from any of them, I tried to seek it out on my own. What my dad (Kunal Kapoor) says is, ‘Whatever you want to do, do it on your own’. So, I made those choices,” he added.
Zahan said everyone in the Kapoor family, including the late Rishi Kapoor, his son Ranbir Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Karisma Kapoor and others, have been kind and supportive.
“There is support, encouragement and cautionary advice. Chintu (Rishi Kapoor) uncle used to be very worried that I look too young and would say, ‘wait, don’t be in a hurry’. Ranbir says, ‘feel good, feel proud, don’t feel ecstatic, keep your head down, keep going’,” he said.
Zahan said he realised at a young age that he has been bitten by the acting bug. He started his stint as an assistant to Sunil Shanbag, a theatre director and a documentary filmmaker.
He found access and opportunity to educate himself closely on how and what an actor does backstage, through Prithvi theatre, founded by Shashi Kapoor and his wife Jennifer Kendal.
“It was a slow process of me trying to understand things. I feel nothing beats experience and we should allow young actors who come from legacy family names to start slowly and get confident. Too many people are dismissed in the first outing when it is a too big load to place on them. Let all of us grow into becoming bigger and stronger actors,” the actor added.
But there were a lot of people giving contradictory advice to him about beginning his journey from theatre. Some said he should not associate himself with the medium as he will come across as a ‘jholawala’, and no one will take him seriously in commercial cinema.
“It was all very confusing. But I knew I loved being on a set,” the actor, who attended numerous acting workshops in the city, read books on acting, and did short theatre courses in London in 2013, said.
Zahan then started giving auditions for films and web shows, but nothing clicked.
According to him, the roles either went to established stars or other actors as he was not fit for the part. He is learning to deal and move on with the deafening silence post the auditions.
“If an opportunity presents itself and I have to earn it, so be it. As the years have gone by, I have gotten better as I know all this is part of it. We are mad people, we give our entire life, months, 12 to 18 hours a day, face rejection, sometimes things work like magic.
“I want to try, I might fail but I will try to be better. I had to be worthy and earn it. It was a big struggle and I was not managing to find anything, it was difficult,” he said.
Four years ago, things changed for Zahan. While he was working on a play with theatre stalwarts such as Makrand Deshpande and Swanand Kirkire, filmmaker Hansal Mehta offered him “Faraaz”.
Expressing gratitude to Mehta and Mukesh Bhatt, who was earlier set to produce the film, the actor said the experience of working on the project has been fulfilling.
“It has been four years behind one film, while the two-hour movie was shot in 23 days. I could not have imagined a more fulfilling and worthwhile experience to go through as my first film.
“Whatever happens to it (film), is a bonus. For me, the process, to work with people who are as passionate as I am, to work with people who want to give everything to bring a story to life, is the experience that I couldn’t have dreamt of better.”
“Faraaz”, based on the July 2016 terror attack on a bakery in Dhaka, Bangladesh, features Zahan as 20-year-old Faraaz Hossain, who was among the 29 people killed in the attack. The film released in theatres on February 3.