We’re shooting with Shraddha Kapoor after two years. So much has changed since the last time we sat down to chat with her, and yet, in a way, everything’s the same. For starters, Shraddha’s brought a guest along to this covershoot. And we don’t mean the regular entourage celebrities roll with—you know, manager, publicist, bodyguards, spot boys, and in some cases, chefs! We’re talking about her “little baby dog, Shyloh”, a black Lhasa Apso, who’s possibly a bigger celebrity at the moment than the star in question herself. Each member of the 20-person crew is enamoured by his presence. “I love hanging out with him,” Shraddha laughs. “He’s the sweetest, probably the most-distracted, but the most-adorable dog,” she tells us. As Shraddha takes Shyloh around to meet everyone, we find a corner to settle down and catch up with her on everything that’s been keeping her busy.
With close to a decade in the industry, Shraddha has been part of some memorable films. But this year has been a rewarding one for her. With Saaho and Chhichhore receiving both critical and box-office acclaim, Shraddha is currently basking in the afterglow of the great projects she’s been a part of. “I’m completely over the moon. It feels amazing... But more than happy, I feel grateful that I get to be part of such movies. It’s wonderful to get so much love from the audience for the work you do,” she tells us, smiling ear-to-ear. And in the next moment, she looks down to check her phone as it buzzes with another congratulatory text.
Shraddha maintains that in these 10 years, while her fabric as a person hasn’t changed at all, she has evolved tremendously as an actor. “The kind of films that I want to do, and the work I am looking out for has changed completely. I have definitely come a long way from the genre of films I was part of, say, two years ago. I know that I want to work on scripts that’ll help in the evolution of Indian cinema.” Shraddha says it was a conscious choice to be part of movies that have been vastly different from the ones we have seen her in the past. “For films like Chhichhore or Stree to come my way—that are revolutionary in their own right—means a lot to me. It has changed so much for me as an actor. I feel it’s a fantastic time to be in Bollywood today...you don’t need a ‘hero’ or a ‘big banner’ to ensure a movie will do well. My goal is to create and be part of movies that are going to be memorable,” she says, admitting that she’s an “extremely ambitious” person.
Ah, ambition. Not used in the most flattering way for women in our society. If you don’t already know, an ambitious woman is often thought of as being pushy, and sometimes, even unattractive. Shraddha nods in agreement. “It really depends on which country one is from, your upbringing, and the people you’re surrounded by. Yes, that has been the general notion in India, but a wave of change is coming. And the credit really goes to persistent women, all across the country, who have made this happen. For instance, till a few years ago, there were no female make-up artists in Bollywood, but now, some of the top artists are women! Even though the process is slow and we have a long way to go, women are changing the game.” Shraddha goes on to talk about the one thing she feels strongly about being a woman in Bollywood: “Women who are living their dream, who are given the opportunity to realise and see through their ambition, should empower other women to see through theirs. It’s our responsibility.” This statement of hers cements one fact: that Shraddha Kapoor is an unapologetic feminist.
And that’s the change we are referring to: Shraddha circa 2017 wasn’t so vocal about her opinions. Fast-track to 2019, and the greater good of the society (and the planet) feature heavily in her conversations. The 32-year-old has spoken about conserving the environment in the past and even participated in the Aarey march in Mumbai recently, where 1,500 people formed a three kilometre-long human chain to prevent the cutting of 2,238 trees in the Aarey Colony. “I really want to do my bit for the environment. It’s important for celebrities to go on-ground, and show up for the citizens—it’s imperative for us to speak about things that really matter, you know? I don’t support any one cause in particular; I just go with my gut, and try to do my best to create awareness about anything and everything I can,” she tells us. “I also support the Akshaya Patra Foundation, which provides mid-day meals to over 1.7 million children across the country. I’d love to be more involved, but right now, because of my work commitments, I’m unable to,” she adds. Shraddha feels that the fastest way for celebrities to reach out to the masses is through social media. “I know people think it’s a really negative space, but I have seen more good come out of it. It’s the voice of the people and there are no filters there. Everyone has an equal chance of being heard, and that’s great. If you can reach out to millions of people through social media, and create awareness about the things that are threatening humanity, isn’t it fantastic?” she asks.
Shraddha is one celebrity who isn’t very far removed from her public image. Her sweet demeanour, friendly smile, and the desire to do the right thing makes her one of the most transparent celebrities we’ve come across in a long time. But this new, confident side is one that we’re really digging. “I have a tremendous amount of self-belief. And I have a great support system—comprising my immediate family and mum’s side of the family—who have always encouraged me to do what I want to do, and not worry about the outcome.” But she’s only human, and not above the usual insecurities the rest of us have. “I don’t feel insecure if my films don’t do well. Thankfully, I’m confident enough to take everything in my stride. But that doesn’t mean that I never feel insecure. I constantly check myself and analyse whether or not I’m evolving in the right direction...the way I’m supposed to as a person. I always want to do the right thing, and be happy about the person that I am becoming. And that leaves me in a constant state of dilemma,” Shraddha divulges, leaving us feeling that she really is one of us.
The Cosmo Quiz
1) The three adjectives I’d use to define myself are impulsive, drifty, and instinctive.
2) The one thing I do religiously on Instagram is read inspirational quotes.
3) I absolutely hate it when I see people treating other people badly.
4) One woman I feel is the epitome of beauty is my mum.
5) The one thing I’m hopeless at is choosing my mind over my heart. I just can’t do it.
6) I’m addicted to Orphans by Coldplay at the moment.
7) You’d never catch me:
a) getting into a fist-fight
b) cry in public
c) break up with somebody over a text shoot, what if I’ve done all three?
8) The one thing only my closest friends know about me (and now you guys!) is that I have this tapori side that only comes out in front of people I’m super-comfortable with.
9) The perfect date night would include being in bed, watching a great movie, and eating amazing food.
10) I’m so good at keeping secrets that I wanted to be a psychotherapist at one point.
11) The wildest thing I have ever done is get caught in a ‘cheating scandal’. I meant cheating in exams, in college. It sure as hell wasn’t fun!