'I am looking for emotionally intimate films', shares Harsh Varrdhan Kapoor

Abstract seems to be the key word to describe Harsh Varrdhan Kapoor’s choice of films. Whether it is Spotlight, Bhavesh Joshi Superhero or Mirzya, this Kapoor scion has chosen a different route to recognition. In a free-wheeling conversation with Cinema Journal he reveals why this works best for him.

Have you consciously decided to be known as a quirky actor?

No, not really! Even though my choice of films are very different from those of other actors in my generation. That is simply because of the kind of person I am. I’m the kind of person who likes to watch films that are more personal to the makers. I also prefer intimate films rather than big budget ones. I am eager to work in the kind of films that are about emotionally intimate storylines. I am not the kind of person who would sign up for a big banner film just because of the star cast or the producer happens to be a friend. I would rather take up something that is lesser known, but has more soul to it!

You come from a family of illustrious actors. Who among them inspires you the most?

I think that would be Arjun. Arjun is a true inspiration. He has gone through a lot in life. First his parents separated, then he lost his mother. Internally, he has struggled a lot. Also, in his professional life he didn’t have things easy. Today, he has achieved so much as an actor and I am really proud of him. We are all very proud of him as a family.

So, how did the Ray anthology happen to you?

I really wanted to work with the director Vasan Bala. He is someone I always wanted to work with and so I just seized the opportunity when it came along. Vasan was the reason I took this up! I was offered this film during the first lockdown and I did train a lot for it online with the team. We had zoom rehearsals and everything before we went to the floors. We kept reading the script over and over again and also trained a lot with acting coaches.

Are you familiar with the works of Satyajit Ray?

I have watched the Apu Trilogy and also Nayak when I was in college. However, I haven’t read any of the books written by him.

Have you ever seen yourself being affected by Satyajit Ray’s style of filmmaking?

Honestly, I haven’t consumed much of Ray’s works. I don’t want to lie about it, but I am not very affected by his style of filmmaking either. It is only now that I have already worked in a film, the story for which has been adapted from one of his works that I feel that I should get to know him more than I do now. After working on this project, I feel this need to actually see more of Ray and read a lot more of his translated work. I don’t want to say something that is not true, just for the sake of answering this question. Now that I have had this experience with the Ray anthology and acting in Spotlight, I want to explore Ray further. I am looking forward to it actually!

As an actor, how tricky was it to play a non-actor who is trying to act?

That is true. The first element to consider in this very tricky journey was not to take yourself too seriously. Especially if you are doing something like this. Also, you need to have fun with it. I am the kind of actor who will first identify the subject, then look at it scene by scene, maybe create a backstory for it. I also use everything that I learnt from, while training to be an actor. I use all kinds of help available. Then of course you have the guidance from the director and hope that all of this together will come to life. I also wanted it to come across as naturalistic as possible, and never too contrived or over the top. I also feel that Mr Ray would have wanted it to be this way. He would have wanted people to be inspired by his work but not imitate his work. And, that is what we have tried to achieve in this film!

Are actors insecure about people who are more famous than them?

I definitely am not but I have seen people in that space. There are so many actors in my family who actually have their fair share of insecurities. They go through that and also manage to put it behind them. It is an emotional journey and it happens to everyone who is a public figure.

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