Vaani Kapoor has just returned from a holiday to London. And she has brought back with her a rather exhaustive list of places to eat at.
“Don’t go by my appearance, I’m the biggest foodie you’ll ever meet,’’ she laughs, almost reading my mind.
The fact that food is one of her greatest pleasures is just one of the things we discover about Vaani Kapoor. Sharing a common adoration for all things carbs-laden, we’re soon exchanging notes on the hidden gems in the Brit capital. “You must try Little Moons, they have the world’s best ice cream!” she tells us, animatedly. “And Zuma, for the best Japanese in town...or, Burger & Lobster, it has the most amazing burgers. You know, I had booked a fitness trainer for myself there, but all I did was eat...and walk—which I hope burnt some calories. I don’t even feel bad about missing the gym, the food was amazing!” And then, barely stopping for breath, “I think my spirit animal is a pig, ’coz I can eat non-stop,” Vaani declares.
When she wasn’t playing the role of an unofficial restaurant critic, Vaani did a spot of socialising...something, she tells us, she doesn’t do often. “I met and connected with so many people in London, which I don’t do normally,” she divulges. This is surprising. Because if there is one thing we assumed about this actor, it is that she isn’t one to shy away from being in the centre of a social spolight. In reality, though, she often prefers to be by herself. As outgoing as her roles have been on-screen, Vaani is uncharacteristically reserved off of it. We tell her as much. “You know, even Hrithik [Roshan] told me that. He had seen me in Befikre before we worked together in War, and later told me that he had thought I’d be a bit intimidating. I do get mistaken for an overly bold and gregarious girl, like the characters I’ve played,” she laughs. “But that’s not bad, really...I must be playing them well. And because I don’t talk a lot in real life, a lot of people think I’m arrogant or unapproachable. That’s the most common misconception about me. But I’m not like that...I just take time to open up.” This is a confession Vaani had made even when we had met her back in 2017, just after her second film, Befikre. “And nothing has changed since then,” she quips, “I’m still struggling to come out of my shell. Being in the profession that I am, it would have helped if I were more of an extrovert, more social. I try, but you know, it’s just not who I am in my fabric,” she smiles.
But certain things have changed. When we were prepping for this interview, the 31-year-old was trending on social media for telling her trolls off. She had posted a photograph on Instagram, and soon the detractors were at it, calling her “manly” and “malnourished”. The Vaani of 2017 would have probably ignored it. (“It’s the best thing to do, no?”, she had said at the time.) But today, silence is not on the menu and Vaani is not afraid to clap back. “Now, I’ve learnt to not get affected or take it personally. Usually, negative comments and getting trolled online feel like too small a thing to care about or get carried away by, but there are moments when you think, ‘You know what, I need to stand up for myself!’. This was one of those times. But I wasn’t spiteful. I just asked this dude not to be so harsh on himself, and that there’s so much more to life, he should really stop reflecting hate.”
On the professional front, too, there is movement. Her recent film with Yash Raj Films (YRF), War—co-starring Hrithik and Tiger Shroff—released in October last year, and, Vaani is now neck-deep working on her next, Shamshera—opposite Ranbir Kapoor—slotted for later this year. She’s wiser, more experienced, and looking set to break the pattern of doing films few and far between. “There have been some gaps between my films, but that was intentional. I wanted to be a part of good projects, and they took some time coming my way. But I’ve been patient enough not to sell myself short as an artist,” she explains. “I know what kind of films I want to be part of, and the kind of people I want to work with.”
She’s just as clear about her associations on the personal front. “I’m very close to my family and some select friends,” she smiles. “I’m fiercely loyal! When it comes to my friends, I take my time, and make only a few, but they mean the world to me, and are like my extended family. I stand by them forever!” Does anyone from the film industry make the cut? “I’m very close to Shanoo [Sharma], the casting director at YRF. Also Hrithik, I am extremely fond of him. He’s been an amazing co-actor...he’s a senior in the industry, a mega star, but he’s been so kind and supportive.”