The first thing that comes to mind when you look at the young actor is that she’s shy. But Janhvi Kapoor will change the way you perceive her within minutes of meeting her. She walks in with a reserved air, exchanging mandatory niceties with the crew, immediately settling in the make-up chair in a corner, fiddling with her phone while listening to music. But the second we give her a cropped wig, her inner child comes to the fore. Janhvi’s now consumed in clicking the right selfie to share with her friends and fam—not to keep them updated on what she’s up to, mind you, but to prank them. “I love this look. As soon as I put on the wig, I thought of clicking a few pictures and convincing people that I’ve chopped off my long hair—many of them bought it, too. In fact, my stylist Tanya (Ghavri), who’s also a really close friend, started crying. She was like, ‘No, how can this be?!’. I even tried to prank Khushi (Kapoor), but she saw through it,” she giggles.
And, in this moment, it’s clear that Janhvi really is the 21-year-old she, well, is. Chirpy and cheerful, with a pinch of mischief.
She goes on talking fondly about her sister...sisters, actually. Her newfound bond with her halfsiblings Anshula Kapoor and Arjun Kapoor has been a topic of public discussion. Janhvi even appeared with Arjun on Koffee With Karan, shedding light on how she’s dealing with the change, and how “their support has brought a sense of security and comfort”. But her relationship with sisters Khushi and Anshula is something she feels can’t be expressed in words. Janhvi might have been the older sibling for the most part of her life, but she’s pretty kicked about being the “middle one” now—with Anshula being the oldest, and Khushi the youngest, amongst the three.
“Both of them feel the need to baby me. Whenever we go on a holiday, they’re always looking out for me so I don’t wander off. And I like that, you know. I like being taken care of and getting pampered...I like being the kid,” she confesses. The topic of siblings and sisters take us to the other Kapoor duo that Janhvi is close to—Sonam Kapoor Ahuja and Rhea Kapoor. “I look at them for guidance for a lot of things. They are really independent, inspiring, and unapologetic,” Janhvi reveals.
As one would expect, being among the most stylish women in the country, Sonam and Rhea are Janhvi’s go-to people for fashion advice. “I keep sending them pictures of my looks, or if I’m at a shoot, I’ll get my hair and make-up approved by them.” But they aren’t the only ones offering sartorial suggestions to Janhvi. “We have a WhatsApp group called ‘Dad’s Kids’ which has me, Khushi, Anshula didi, Arjun bhaiya, and dad on it. And I send all my outfit pictures along with looks from different photoshoots on that group. In fact, most of my outfits need to be approved by dad, otherwise, I don’t feel confident wearing them,” she divulges, with a wide grin.
Layers of approvals to select outfits for every single appearance sounds like a lot of work. But Janhvi has been preparing for this moment for years. But, even though Janhvi was made familiar with Bollywood elite and taught how to pose for the paparazzi at a young age, she still admits to feeling insecure at times. “I have plenty of insecurities—just as many as the next person. But it keeps changing. I think most artists are insecure because we’re always looking at improving ourselves. So you keep questioning whether you’re good enough or not, whether you deserve this or not, or if it can get better than this. But the fear of not being good enough has never paralysed me,” she tells us, with the glaring subject of nepotism hanging in the air. It’s a subject Janhvi is not afraid to discuss.
“The whole nepotism debate (when I was making my debut in Dhadak) did make me question if I deserved to be in this position—and I realised that the right answer to it is that I’m not. I do come from a place of privilege. But I have it, so what am I supposed to do now? I’d be the dumbest person on the planet if I didn’t do anything about it. So I need to ensure that I make the best of it and push myself to work as hard as I can...only then can I justify that I’m worthy,” she says, wisely.
Of course, Dhadak did change Janhvi’s life in many ways. For one, the papz are constantly watching her like hawks, documenting every move. “It’s a price that all of us have to pay. I think it’s so flattering that people would even give me enough attention to know about my private life. I can’t crib about it, I am not in that position. Plus, people wanting to know about you also comes from a place of love. So you just have to balance it; it’s your responsibility. And honestly, I want this too much to complain about anything,” she reveals. Speaking of the more positive impacts celebritydom has had on her, Janhvi says, “I have this insatiable hunger to be in front of the camera. Once you get a taste of that kind of creative energy, normal life just doesn’t cut it. I’ve worked a lot on myself and I do think I have a lot to offer.”
Our candid conversation cements one fact: Janhvi may have mastered the art of behaving a certain way in public now that she’s a celebrity—you know, the poised demeanour and grace of someone well beyond her years—but at heart, she’s still a child. “I look at the world through rose-tinted glasses. I’d much rather think the world is all rainbows and unicorns, as opposed to being a cynical person. You attract the kind of energy you anticipate, so I don’t mind getting disappointed or hurt, as long as my sanity is intact.”
But does the pressure of maintaining this public persona get to her sometimes? “I guess, it does. At any given point of time, people are always telling you how they want you to be, or how you should behave. But, to me, what’s most important is to ensure I don’t lose my fabric and preserve that sense of self,” Janhvi tells us, adding that she feels fortunate enough to not have to alter herself to fit the industry. “I just had to better myself, in terms of my skill set. I don’t think anything matters other than your work. Although there is a lot of judgment out there, sometimes, I get petrified thinking about it, but I’m just trying to keep it together and stick to who I am,” she says.
She leaves us with the pearls of wisdom her mom (late Sridevi) left her with, before her debut. “Mom said, ‘Don’t overthink it, just feel it’. And be honest to what you’re doing, work hard, give it your everything, and just put your head down and keep working. It’s as simple as that; it doesn’t need to be complicated.”