Well, after a long one-week wait, I've finally managed to get hold of you. Shall I say it's my Kismat?
(Laughs) Of course, yes. It is your Kismat and mine too for talking to you in London.
You did change your Kismat with Jab We Met. What's going to change with Kismat Konnection?
To begin with, it's a new film, it's a different film and a very new character for me. I think in Jab We Met, my character was very quiet and introvert kinds. Here it is loud, vociferous, and talkative. So I'm hoping that it'll be a change for the audiences to see me doing something different here. Apart from that, my Kismat is in the hands of my fans. If they love the film and my role, I have no complaints. If they don't, I still have no complaints.
It's Aziz Mirza coming back after a long time, its Vidya Balan with you for the first time and above all, Sanjay Chhel who is the scriptwriter of Kismat Konnection. How did the Konnection workout with all of them?
Well. Aziz uncle hasn't made a film since five years. And then he came across a story which he really liked and wanted to make a film with it and contacted me. This is the first time that Aziz uncle is working with someone besides Shahrukh. So, it's a huge compliment. I really liked the subject because it was very different from what I've done in the past. Then he told me that he wanted to cast Vidya. The cast was decided and we started shooting soon. Sanjay Chhel as we all know is a brilliant scriptwriter and his screenplay has always done well. So I hope this film changes a lot of Kismats.
Were you surprised when you first heard that Vidya Balan was going to be paired opposite you?
Not really. As I said that when I met Aziz uncle, he had already told me that he wanted to cast Vidya. He thought that Vidya was just the right actor for the part, and I had full faith in him. Yes, it's Vidya and my first film together so I hope the chemistry works. I think it has worked out really well and we both are looking very nice on screen together. She's a great girl and we had fun working together. A lot of people had certain reservations because people had seen me in boyish roles and Vidya in serious roles. But right now, people are reacting very well to the promos and so I guess it's all good.
Now that we have seen your solo release JWM do really well. Will Kismat Konnection finally establish you as an actor who can carry a film on his own shoulder?
I don't know whether Kismat Konnection will establish that or not. But it's not only Jab We Met which has established me as a solo actor. I've also been a part of two other solo films - Ishq Vishq and Vivah. They both did really well for me. Eventually it's about doing good films and a director coming up to me with a role which I'd like to do regardless whether or not it has another lead actor or not. But I am proud of the fact that few of my solo hero films have done well and it's a good and happy feeling for me. Hoping that Kismat Konnection will also follow on the same track.
Tell us something about your new long hairstyle. Who recommended it to you? Or was it your own decision?
I am trying to do something new in every film. I don't want to sport the same look in every film and I've just started a new film with Vishal Bhardwaj for which I needed a different look. So the long hair style is for that. But I guess after a couple of my new releases, I'll do something drastically different by cutting my hair really short. I'm tired of the long hair already.
Aziz Mirza has always given hit numbers in all his films. We know he loves his music. What strikes a chord here? I mean, we've never seen such groovy tracks in an Aziz Mirza film before?
Aziz uncle was and is very clear about the fact that Kismat Konnection is a very young film and wanted me to dance in the film. He knew that the USP of KK lies with it's connect with the youth. So we roped in Pritam who is going through the best phase of his career right now. That's one of the reasons why the music is very upbeat and also because he is making a film about a character settled in Toronto. So the music should be made keeping in mind the location and should sound like that. Keeping all those things in mind, I think Kismat Konnection's music is going to rock.
You're also working with directors who are debutants for you. Vishal Bhardwaj and your own father Mr. Pankaj Kapoor. But keeping in mind the genre which both these celebrities are fond of, are these two films going to be very contemporary, rural or dark? And will it show a new Shahid?
Absolutely, I am really excited about both these films but it's a bit premature to talk about them right now. I've just started shooting for Vishal's film and dad's film is being scripted as of now. But yes, both the films will showcase a new Shahid and a different side to me which the audiences will be surprised to see.
Your father has worked with Vishal Bhardwaj in the film Blue Umbrella, which won a few awards in prestigious film festivals. Any tips or advice you got from your father since you were a part of Vishal's film.
Dad wants me to discover myself as a person and as an actor. He gives me a lot of space. Yeah, both have done great work together in the Blue Umbrella and there have been conversations, which have happened where I've asked him, and he said that he was really happy that I was working with Vishal. I am my own person and I will take as much advice I want to from my dad. But at the same time he is also somebody who wants me to find my own way and to understand what works good for myself.
Which is your favourite track from Kismat Konnection?
I really like the song 'Bakhuda Tumhi Ho' sung by Atif.
In films, you've held too many beautiful ladies in your arms. When are we going to see you hold a gun?
(Laughs) Very soon man! Very soon.
Your biggest success has been with Kareena Kapoor. Professionally, are we going to see both of you together sometime?
It's not really up to me. It depends on my director who approaches me with such a script and if he thinks that Kareena is right for the part opposite me, I'll have no issues about working with her because at the end of the day we are professionals. If my director thinks that Kareena will be a part of the film then I will support my director all the way.
What's cooking between you and Vidya off the sets?
You had to ask this, didn't you? What can I say? She is a good co-actor and a great person with whom I've shared some fantastic 80 days of shoot for the film. Everything else you want to hear can be found in the gossip mills. Do I have to be linked with all my female actors just because we get along very well on and off the sets? (Laughs)
Has Imtiaz approached you with a fresh script?
Let's see. Imtiaz is one of the best talents that we have in our industry right now. He has just started out. We've had great fun working on Jab We Met and if he feels that something comes along which he thinks is right for me, he'll come to me and I'm always looking forward to work with him.
You've said earlier that you've done enough boyish roles. But the promos of Kismat Konnection aren't very different from what you've mentioned earlier.
To say that I won't be doing any boyish roles is not what I have in mind because people have really liked me in a certain space. So I'm not going to lose that. I am 27 years old, I connect with the youngsters, connect with the youth, I am going to do young roles which I feel are my USP. I will never let that go and at the same time, I'd like to discover new areas and try something different as well. It's going to be a healthy balance of both.
Tell us a bit about your Toronto experience while filming for Kismat Konnection.
I loved it. It's a beautiful city. We spent nearly 60 days there and were really lucky to go there in the summer because it's terribly cold in the winters. We shot downtown which reminds you of Manhattan, New York. There are lot of Indians there and time felt pretty much at home because if you wanted an Indian meal, you'd just drive down ten minutes to a restaurant and you'd find nice tasty Indian food.
Did the first time with Vidya make her or you forget your lines, steps taken wrong, etc?
(Laughs) The first day we were shooting, Vidya came up to me because she wanted to break the ice. So she took the paper and pen out and asked me for my autograph and the whole unit started laughing. There was a good atmosphere on the sets generally. Everyone was chilled. Aziz uncle is someone who likes the work to happen not very seriously and likes to have fun on the sets. That's what reflects in his films and that's why his films are so light hearted and easy to watch. Vidya is a very good actor and it is always good to work with somebody who is talented.
Besides giving interviews, have you guys planned any other ways to promote this film? Any merchandising, etc?
Yeah, we will do everything in our capacity to promote the film. I don't think that this film requires merchandising and there are certain subjects which do not justify merchandising. But we will be going out on television shows and do press conferences to make as many people aware about the film as we can because we are all happy with the way the film has turned out. We will be giving our best shot.
Any message for your fans who want you to shoot a film here in London.
I'd love to come to London and shoot my film. I love the city, the weather, and the people. It is one of my favourite cities in the world. If given a choice to spend my holiday in a city, it will definitely have to be London. I hope something comes along the way so we can come to London and shoot. I want to give all my love to my fans and thank them because Jab We Met really did well in U.K and would like to thank each and every one who went and saw the film. Kismat Konnection is the first film I'm doing which is a NRI film. I hope that all the people living abroad will connect to my character, and you know, in Hindi films NRIs are always shown as rich, affluent people. I think there is a huge section of NRIs who are just like regular people, trying to make ends meet, who work hard and live a normal life. That's Raj Malhotra for you in Kismat Konnection. Indians abroad have that kind of life and find a place for themselves with hard work and dedication. I hope my audience will accept me in this new role.
Describe Kismat Konnection in one sentence.
If I had three hours to kill, I'd go and watch this breezy, feel good, young, fun and worth-your-time film.