The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. This phrase is often said about children that display talents or qualities similar to their parents. In the case of Anil Kapoor and Harsh Varrdhan Kapoor, it’s their love for acting. Both father and son have a very different approach to their craft and careers. Their cinematic language is also diametrically opposite. On the one hand, Anil Kapoor has a range unlike many others with films such as Meri Jung, Ram Lakhan, Beta, AK vs AK, and Slumdog Millionaire. On the other, Harsh has chosen films left of center, and not too commercial, in his short, seven-year career span. His last release, Thar, is one such example. The actor has also donned the producer’s hat for this film — a role many of his family members, namely Boney Kapoor, Rhea Kapoor, and Anil Kapoor, have taken on. 

About adding his name to the long list of producers in the family, he discloses, “I’ve never really seen them work up close and personal. My role was more creative as opposed to financial.” The actor also harbours a dream of turning director one day. “Movies are a director’s medium. Maybe one day, if I find a story that I feel I can tell uniquely, I would like to have the experience of directing a film.” In 2016, Kapoor Junior made his debut as an actor with Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Mirzya, and followed it up with much delayed Bhavesh Joshi Superhero in 2018. Both films didn’t manage to make the cash registers ring. Post that, he’s done only three more projects, whereas if you look at his peers, each one has worked on way too many films, including flops and hits.

“My work comes from a passionate place. For me, it’s quality over quantity. That is why I don’t believe in doing something just for the sake of doing it. I wouldn’t do most of those films anyway. I think everyone has a different journey, including my peers. If I wanted to, I could be doing five films a year. But I don’t see it as a job. So, I don’t need to do it because I need to be in the limelight, or play the game. My career began with a film like Mirzya. If I wanted to be the typical Bollywood hero, I would not have done Bhavesh or Ray or AK vs AK or Thar. My whole path would have been very different,” he says.

Junior Kapoor adds, “I don’t really think about projection. I just kind of go from film to film. The idea is that every piece of work has to be unique, and feel new and different. I don’t want it to feel like the repackaged and rehashed version of films that people have done for 20-30 years. I don’t really look at anyone else’s path; I do my own thing. I am going to create something new. I am not trying to break out or break away. The idea is to just do good films, and work with directors like Vasan Bala, Vikramaditya Motwane, Anurag Kashyap, and new blood like Raj Singh Chaudhary.”

Andhadhun is a landmark film in Ayushmann Khurana’s career. Sriram Raghavan had approached many actors before Khurrana, and one of them was Kapoor. He had agreed to be part of the film, but he wasn’t destined for it. “I was offered the film, and I don’t know why, but many people think I rejected it. The reality is that I heard this script, and I said yes immediately. But Bhavesh kept on getting delayed, and I lost the film because I couldn’t manage both. So, that’s the truth.”

The actor’s last two releases, AK vs AK and Ray earned him praise, and boosted his confidence. “I got a lot of love, praise, and validation, and it felt incredible. I had never expected it, and I didn’t think people would talk about it. But it became this huge thing, and it was very overwhelming. When you hear good things about yourself, you feel validated and confident that you’re on the right path and doing the right things. So that helps.”

He adds, “I am trying to be a decent actor. By that, I mean honest, sincere, and vulnerable. Even though we live in a world where we try to conceal how we are seen and be in a shell, I think it is crucial, as an actor, to try not to be dishonest in your performances. I don’t really believe in the whole star system. I don’t think about my positioning and stardom, and what people like, and how people see me, because if I thought about all that, I wouldn’t really have time to work. It’s very complicated.” Acting is not the only thing that keeps the actor busy. Not many are aware that he writes, and is into photography and fashion. He has one of the largest collections of Blu-Rays with him.

He actually prefers to call himself an artist and not just an actor. He shares, “I’d definitely like to call myself an artist. I don’t want to limit myself to just doing one thing. I am not a trained photographer, but I do street photography. I am writing many things right now. I am ideating about fashion, wherein I basically jot down ideas about what I would like to see in my garments. I don’t think I am a designer yet, but I am very passionate about clothes. One can say clothes are the DNA of the Kapoors (laughs).”

Post Thar, the Kapoor father and son duo are getting ready for one of the biggest films of their careers, a biopic on the legendary Indian Olympic winning archer, Abhinav Bindra. Though the film had been announced a while back, Harsh updates us, “The film is definitely happening. It should go on the floor by the end of the year. I will start preparing for my role with my acting coaches very soon.” One of his many projects lined up in the near future, we understand that for Harsh Varrdhan Kapoor, it’s not the name or fame that counts, it’s the pride of being exactly where he wants to be.