When Vaani Kapoor, as a young adult, realised that her life back in Delhi was planned for her and there was no room for her to discover herself, the actress took the leap of faith, and arrived in the city where dreams come true. She was interning at a luxurious hotel when she forayed into modelling. She owned the ramp, but had her goals set to one day be able to see herself on the big screen. While many aspire to achieve this goal, Kapoor saw herself through countless rounds of auditions, and bagged her first film with none other than Yash Raj Films. It became very clear that she is meant for big things, and that’s exactly what Kapoor aimed to do. After marking her debut in Shuddh Desi Romance (2013), Kapoor continues to win hearts with her performances.

Ranveer Singh, Akshay Kumar, Hrithik Roshan — these are a few of the big names Kapoor has worked with in the years she has been in the industry. Her film with Singh, titled Befikre, released back in 2016, and was still a part of our conversation during this interview. The two actors weaved magic with their on-screen chemistry, and Kapoor became a household name with it. Five films old now with movies like War and Bell Bottom on her list, Kapoor will be next seen in Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui alongside Ayushmann Khurrana. The actress spills the beans about getting to work with these talented actors, her mantra for being financially independent, her style, and more. 

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Let’s begin with talking about Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui. What was it about the script that made you say yes?

The script itself. It is a very unique and cool script. And the fact that with the script, there was the right director and the right co-actor. Everything just fell in place for me. It is an amalgamation of all three things — the content of the script that is so interesting, something that has never been done before; then, of course, my film-maker. I feel that some things you can do only if you feel confident that the film-maker will be able to pull it off. For me, that confidence came from my film-maker and my co-actor — Ayushmann Khurrana. Both of them are incredible with their craft, and I think it is only going to get better with time. 

You have worked with some of the best actors. What is the key factor that you look for in a co-star that helps you better your performance? 

I have been very fortunate that I have had the chance to work with all these actors who have been so mind-blowing and enthralling in their work. They are experienced, have done more films, they are adored by the audience, including me. I, as an audience, am connected to their work. So, there is a huge amount of respect that I have for them. I feel like there is a certain amount of unsaid faith as well that I have for them, which helps better my performance in a scene. I am very fortunate that I have worked with these people who are experienced and good at their craft. I am super fond of all my co-stars, and I hope they are too. 

You have often been asked about the limited films that you have chosen to be a part of. Does it bother you that the number of films you do matters more? Does it add any kind of pressure on you to be seen more?

If there had been any pressure, I would have already signed films that came my way, which I hadn’t. It is not like I don’t get work. This is just the perception that people have. They think like ‘Oh maybe she is not simply getting films.’ I have been saying yes to projects that I feel I should say yes to. It is a very conscious decision that I have made. I am not saying that I am getting the best of the best film-makers who are giving me outstanding scripts, and I have said no. I just waited out in the hope that something interesting would come my way. I don’t take this as any kind of pressure. I am genuinely content with doing less work, but good work.

You once talked about how you have been financially independent since the age of 18. How did you learn to be financially independent, and how important was this journey? 

I am still in that learning phase. I am trying to evolve, and get wiser because I feel like I am still on that journey. I do feel proud that I was able to start this at such a young age. Financial independence, for me, is a must. You get to learn a lot about yourself when you are on your own. 

What would you say to your 18-year-old self now?

I don’t know what I would tell her. I think I’d say ‘you did good and you sailed through.’ There is a lot more for me to realise and learn.  

As you mentioned, financial independence is very important. Do you think we have enough awareness and discussion about how important it is to be financially independent for women in today’s day and age?

I think at any age, no matter how old you are, financial independence for everyone, especially for women, is very important. It gives you a basic sense of freedom because you want to take care of yourself. But I don’t think all of the women are getting that freedom. There are so many girls who don’t even receive basic education. You don’t have the awareness of what you want to be, and what you want to do with your life then. We need more schools, more discussion about girl education and every other aspect of it, including women’s safety. I feel, as a country, we are on our way, but there is still a lot that we can do.

You have also talked about how you decided to come out of the system that was set for you. What was the most challenging part about getting into acting?

I didn’t have to struggle a lot. I met the right people at the right time. It worked out easier for me. I did have my fair share of struggles. I had to audition for months and months, and I did not live in Mumbai. I used to give auditions and fly back to Delhi every time. But I was very sensible about this, and gave myself a time limit. I decided if nothing happened in this time frame, I will move back. I was prepared for that. Nowadays, it is easier for people to get into the industry. There are casting agents, production houses, and there are also people who are a lot more approachable via social media. Things have gotten better.  

You have worn outfits by designers like Manish Malhotra, Payal Singhal, Rocky Star. Whose style aligns more with yours? Which designer are you looking forward to collaborating next with?

I like styles by Manish Malhotra, Sabyasachi — there are so many wonderful designers. There is Nikhil Thampi, who is a friend. He used to style me, and still does today. They all have done some incredible work. They have a different take on fashion and different aesthetics that they bring out with their designs. It’s just so amazing that we are spoilt for choices. 

What is your personal style like? If you had to keep only three outfits from your wardrobe, which ones would that be?

I am not the most stylish person. Half of the time, I am in my track pants. You will only find loose pants, denims, T-shirts in my wardrobe. My black and whites are there. My stylist keeps telling me that I need to add more colour to my wardrobe. I am black and white in life, and in my wardrobe. 

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How did the shoot with MW go? Which was the one look that you liked the most and can you describe it for us?

It went well. It was a sporty, easy-breezy shoot. The pictures came out very well. I liked all the looks. They were very cool. I hope people like it too. I liked the cover look. I think it was very cool.

The pandemic changed the way we view films. How did the pandemic affect work when you returned to the sets of the film? 

While I was shooting, everyone’s only concern was safety. Having to go through those antigen tests was cruel. Everyone took care that the protocols were followed. The producers took care of everything so that the actors do not feel anxious about coming back on the sets. I did two films during this time, so I am only grateful that I got to be busy. 

How did you spend your days locked up in the house? What were you really looking forward to during these days?

The first wave that hit was very difficult. I didn’t have help and I was living alone with my two cats. They also fell sick in between all this. I had to learn how to cook my own meals. My friends were worried about me, and they used to call and check up on me. Everything just fell apart for me. I am just glad I sailed through. Daily chores are an everyday routine for thousands of people and while it is not a big deal, I can say I am proud of myself. 

We have only scratched the surface when it comes to discussion about mental health. You have been talking about how comfortable you are being alone. What is your mantra for being so calm and comfortable?

It is very simple. Just learn how to be comfortable being alone. If you are happy within yourself, you will sail through. I would not call myself a loner, but I am comfortable being in my own company. It doesn’t bother me. I am not a social person where I need people around me 24X7. There is just so much to do anyway. I don’t miss people as much as extroverts do.  

What’s your vision board for 2022?

I just want to work with really good film-makers and get very cool scripts. I want to be a part of amazing projects and that is all I am hoping for. 

Quick Five With Vaani Kapoor:

Whose wardrobe would you like to raid?

Hailey Bieber, Bella Hadid or Gigi Hadid. 

Which fictional character is your ideal date?

Any Shah Rukh Khan character. 

Top three movies you can binge-watch at any point in time?

The Holiday, Jim Carrey movies, and any cartoons or animated films.

One beauty product you cannot do without?

A good lip balm.

One Bollywood film you wanted to be a part of?

Many. Jab We Met, Band Baaja Baaraat, Piku.