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Vaani Kapoor on collaborating with Hrithik Roshan, Tiger Shroff in War: Not insecure about working with two great actors

“I am fighting for attention, and these two (Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff) are hogging all the limelight,” laughs Vaani Kapoor, the female lead of upcoming action drama War, produced by Yash Raj Films (YRF).

Vaani, who returns to celluloid post a three-year hiatus with Bang Bang-fame Siddharth Anand-helmed action thriller, stars in the first-ever film to unite the two actors. However, Vaani does not seem to mind the heroes taking the centre-stage. “There is a graph to the character that I am portraying. It’s quite pivotal, and nicely linked to the storyline of the film. Even though it is driven by these two mega stars, and it is an action film, there is a lot of story that everybody will discover. Every project has a different storyline, and I don’t want to prove a point by saying that I will only support films in which I have the meatiest part ,” she says.

“Secondly,” she continues, “I liked the idea that it is an action film. I love watching action films like Charlie’s Angel, Naked Weapon, and I also love superhero films which have lot of action. I may not have a big screen time but it is amazing to have Hrithik and Tiger as co-actors. They are phenomenal in every form, when it comes to acting, action, dancing, looks.”

While Vaani is tight-lipped about doing action sequences in War, the actress had to undergo grueling sessions of pilates, yoga, and weight training to match energy with her two co-stars, for both action and dance. “I was very nervous to dance with Hrithik. I would be delusional to think that I can dance as good as him. But I just got to do one groovy step with him. He was like, ‘Listen, just have fun. Don’t over think, calm down.’ I was having fun, and cut two, when I see it on the screen, I am like, ‘Hey, he is not having fun, he is doing it right,” she giggles.

After making a promising big-screen debut with YRF’s rom-com Shuddh Desi Romance (2013), a critical and commercial success that saw her sweep the best debut awards, Vaani had to wait for three long years for her second release, Aditya Chopra’s Befikre (2016). The romantic comedy, co-starring Ranveer Singh, was an average grosser at the box office. It has been three years since then and now, after another long wait, the actress is gearing up for her third release. “I am very choosy, and that is why I took three years to come back. I got scripts but there was always something missing, and I didn’t feel deeply passionate about those scripts. It is in my nature, be it films, work or my personal life. I have a handful of friends, who I completely welcome in my life, and who know me inside out. It has to be a few but the most important is being quality-oriented rather than quantity. And it is not that I am some megastar who will have insane amount of scripts to choose from. I wanted to wait for something better to come along,” she explains.

From her debut role in Shuddh Desi Romance, the film that dealt with live-in relationships, to ‘Shyra’- an uninhibited and carefree girl in Befikre, Vaani’s characters break the glass ceilings of a traditional girl-next-door portrayal. There is a side relatable in War, she says. “I don’t know if any of these characters in these three films that I have played have any resemblance to me in particular but there is a side that is a lot more soft and relatable in War. Sid (director) has presented me in a different way from whatever I have done in the past,” she says. “But not just Shuddh Desi Romance, my performance in Befikre also garnered good reviews. Even if a scene is not so dramatic, and it is lighthearted, sometimes even that gets very tricky to pull off, and especially since I was nothing like that character. For me, the first half of the film was very alien. I don’t have it in me to go to a club and pick up a boy with ease, and make it look convincing and not look tacky. For that, your body language and thought process, everything requires a lot of work,” she says.

As compared to her previous two directors — Maneesh Sharma (Shuddh Desi Romance) and Aditya Chopra (Befikre), Vaani finds her War director the coolest of all. But she admits that she was terrified of Sharma. “Aditya is also very chilled out but there are times where he loses patience. Sid is very flamboyant and cool. I feel as if he is my age. I had so much fun shooting with him. He is such a relaxed and easy-going person yet he can make a film which can look so larger- than- life and that is some talent talking. But I was scared of Maneesh Sharma, even more than Aditya. Maneesh had this judging look whether I can play Tara. And I could never understand Tara as a character. I felt what kind of girl she is because she was fine with the guy cheating on her the second time. Whenever I would say that aloud I could see Maneesh giving me that look that I should shut up,” she laughs.

“But now I feel proud of that film, and all thanks to the director, he made me play that character somehow though I was struggling to understand ‘her’ and ‘her’ motive behind why she’s doing whatever she is doing, and why she is reacting the way she is. It is all the director who made it happen to me,” says Vaani, as she recalls her struggle period. “For Shuddh Desi…, I gave countless auditions because Maneesh wanted to be 100 percent sure before he took a newcomer on. Even before Befikre, I gave several auditions for months without knowing the outcome. Each day would feel heavy, and I went through a lot of stress cracking every audition and making sure that it is your best while you are being judged and tested constantly,” she says.

During the period Vaani remained absent from the silver screen, a flurry of new actresses made their way into the Hindi film industry, making competition tougher than ever before. Janhvi Kapoor, Sara Ali Khan, and Ananya Panday, to name a few, emerged as new choices of filmmakers. “I try to nurture what I have, and not try constantly thinking and wallow about, ‘Oh which project I have, and what I don’t have and what are the others doing’ because that is a bad way of looking at things. It is nice to see so many creative people coming in. We all have creative sides and it is nice that lot of people are getting chance to showcase their talent. It is also nice that so many filmmakers are taking chance on newcomers,” she says, commenting on the growing competition.

Vaani’s next release is dacoit drama Shamshera, directed by Karan Malhotra, starring Ranbir Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt. Shamshera will be Vaani’s fourth film with YRF. The actress is now looking forward to working outside the banner. “Of course, I want to work outside Yash Raj. I am thinking. Actually, I don’t know the industry that well. I have been in my cocoon where I have not socialised so much, and I have not even worked with many people. I know Ayushmann (Khurrana). I have hung out with Anushka (Sharma). Ranveer (Singh) is nice. Some of these guys I know because I have worked with them.”

It looks like Vaani is in no hurry to go on a signing spree. “You can come under pressure when people give you lot of suggestions. They may say ride the wave when it is high and not let go of opportunities, and you should be more visible, more social. All those voices are always there. You see the chatter happening. But when these things don’t come organically to me, I can just not follow these, and Adi’s (her mentor Aditya Chopra) advice is to be who you are and you will attract like-minded people. People, who appreciate you for the kind of work you do, will come to you. You don’t have to impress people,” she says.

For the 30-year-old actress, cinema remains her first love. “I can express myself in ways that even I might not have thought of. I am not good at expressing myself as me so I feel more comfortable expressing myself as other characters. I love cinema. It is just magical. You have so many amazing stories, and to be part of great stories, I find it cool. I can’t see myself doing anything else,” she concludes.

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