Many stars find promoting films rabidly through back-to-back interviews and TV appearances tiresome. But it’s often viewed as a necessary evil in this era of oversharing and boisterous marketing gimmicks.
In the recent past, actor Ranbir Kapoor — who looked visibly bored while promoting his fantasy adventure with Gulf News — claimed it was his 24th interview of the day (his wife and actress Alia Bhatt who was on the Zoom video with us quickly corrected his exaggerated number).
But we empathised with him during that interview because he has a rich body of work behind him and is now a seasoned hand in Bollywood. He had somehow earned the right to sport an ambivalent attitude towards interviews.
However, to detect a similar kind of boredom and cynicism in the 25-year-old Jhanvi Kapoor, who was on call to promote her upcoming survival thriller ‘Mili’, was intriguing. The young star has been in the Hindi film industry for five years and has acted in six films, including ‘Dhadak’, ‘Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl’, ‘Roohi’, ‘Good Luck Jerry’ and ‘Ghost Stories’.
While the daughter of late actress Sridevi and prolific producer Boney Kapoor has showed promise with each passing film, this interaction for her upcoming ‘Mili’ was a succinct seven-minute conversations that made you wonder if Janhvi is one of those talents who finds film promotions underwhelming.
She was on call to promote her new survival thriller, a Hindi-remake of Malayalam hit ‘Helen’ which starred an on-point Anna Ben. ‘Mili’, produced by Janhvi's father Boney Kapoor, is a chilling tale of a young woman who gets trapped in a freezer at her workplace and is struggling to stay alive. Just like her titular character who’s at risk of dying from hypothermia, her off-screen persona was a bit aloof. But she genuinely thawed when asked if acting and being a public figure had lived up to her expectations.
“It’s more than everything I hoped it would be. I really am in love with it,” said Janhvi. So does she think she has improved with each film? Janhvi Kapoor belongs to the rarefied bracket of privileged star kids who have a tribe from the acting dynasty backing their career and shepherding their acting opportunities.
“I think that’s for the audiences to judge," said Kapoor matter-of-factly. Fair enough.
If social media popularity is a yardstick to measure your success then Janhvi has hit it out of the park. On Instagram alone, she has over 19 million followers making her a click magnet for media across the globe. But she doesn’t view her stardom and social media reach through that reductive lens.
“I like to think I am somebody relatable more than aspirational,” said Janhvi.
She’s at once a reluctant star and a closet recluse.
Here’s her short take on the following:
Her new film ‘Mili’:
“Firstly, it’s a very good film. It’s an immersive new experience for audiences in theatres. It’s got a little bit of everything — drama, family, emotions, romances. It has AR Rahman’s music and it’s an edge-of-the-seat thriller. We put our heart and soul into it. And I really hope you guys like it.”
Filming in extreme cold conditions and being trapped in a freezer:
“It was quite tough. But honestly, it made my job as an actor easier. I didn’t have to pretend to feel cold, trapped, and suffocated. I actually felt cold, trapped, suffocated and was in physical and mental trauma. So performance wise, it was easy because emotionally and physically — filming it was very draining.”
Her process of choosing roles and films:
“It’s not a deliberate process and it has all come organically. To me, films that I gravitate towards naturally and the ones that I want to see personally matters. I am just doing the roles that excite me. With ‘Mili’, I want the audiences to take away a new moving experience. I want them to feel the thrills and I want to remind them that in life you must prioritise people and things that actually matter. Anything can happen at any point in your life because you never know what life has in store for you. Don’t be caught up in the hustle and bustle of things alone. Don’t be caught up in just surviving or making a living. I hope this film will remind you to actually live life for the people that you care about.”
Her famous father producing her film and whether it’s a good idea to work with family:
“When your family is as sensible and as creative and amazing as my father, then you should definitely do it … But what he thought of my performance is a question you should ask him. I don’t know what to say about my own performance other than the fact that I have really give it my all or at least tried to give it my all. I hope that people see it.”
COVID-19 era bringing huge shifts in viewing patterns:
“We are very nervous but I think a lot of confidence and security comes from the fact that we have made a good film with honest intentions and I am sure that it will come across.”
The most challenging part of this film:
“It was definitely shooting in the freezer that was challenging.”
Seeing the original film ‘Helen’ as homework:
“I saw bits and pieces of it … I just got the script of the film … Just following what my director was saying was enough. All he said was that I shouldn’t come prepared and that method was new for me, but I tried listening to him.”
Her journey as an actor in Bollywood:
“I have gotten more confident and I think I am willing to take more risks. I now show up on set knowing that I can do the job without second-guessing myself … I just want to keep doing work and I don’t calculate things so much.”
An actress that she was impressed by lately:
“Recently I saw ‘Scenes From a Marriage’ and I am obsessed with Jessica Chastain. Then I saw ‘Molly’s Game’ and re-watched ‘Zero, Dark Thirty’ and ‘The Eyes Of Tammy Faye’. She’s so gifted.”
Don’t miss it!
‘Mili’ releases in UAE cinemas on November 4.