‘I Expected ‘Spotlight’ To Be Polarizing’

Indian actor Harshvardhan Kapoor features in one of the films in the recently released Netflix anthology, Ray. In an exclusive interview, he shares the kind of response he has got for the film, and analyzes his own short journey in Bollywood.

Ray that released on Netflix recently, is an anthology of four films, based on four short stories by the maverick filmmaker, Satyajit Ray. Spotlight, directed by Vasan Bala, features Kapoor in the lead role. He essays the role of a Bollywood star, struggling under the burden of his own stardom and yearning to grow as an artist, and go beyond the same mannerisms that he is identified with.

Asked about the response he has received so far, Kapoor says, “(It has been) overwhelming. I expected the film to be a lot more polarizing. I believed that the film would really divide (the audience) but most people have responded positively. I think the film’s form is abstract. It is interesting and has a unique sense of humor, (it is) very far from the norm. Spotlight is loosely inspired by a piece of work by Satyajit Ray, and it is not an adaptation. I thought people would either love it or hate it. However, people seem to be appreciating the technical merits and performances in the film. I am feeling really good about it.”

Since his Bollywood debut with Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Mirzya in 2016, Kapoor has starred in two films before Spotlight. He has only worked in Vikram Motwane’s Bhavesh Joshi Superhero and AK Vs AK. The actor adds, “I have not done films that need me to be a superstar. I have done more off-beat cinema. I have also not experienced that kind of stardom (which his character in Spotlight has). It was fun to step into those shoes. The film comments on celebrity culture and insecurity of artists. It also comments on our society’s obsession with religion. The film talks about all these issues, and it is great that we also managed to have such good time and we all laughed so much (while making the movie).”

Asked if any of his father’s stardom slipped into his character, Kapoor insists the film is “very intimate”. He says, “We all have our own insecurities and this job entails that kind of insecurity where you end up questioning things a lot. I have seen my dad (Bollywood star Anil Kapoor), sister (Sonam Kapoor) and the ups and downs and insecurities that comes with the job.”

Talking about taking up the project, Kapoor says that the prospect of working with a filmmaker like Vasan Bala was enough for him. “Vasan Bala is one of the best and has his own style of doing things. In his films, the humor is dark and bizarre but it is also entertaining. The work is never self-serious, he (Bala) has a lot of fun with characters. Spotlight also makes a lot of points but does that in an entertaining manner.”

Kapoor adds, “I was offered the film when the first wave of the pandemic hit us. I was going through anxious times, uncertain about what the future holds for us and this (offer to work in the Netflix film) came as a boon. I could channel it (anxiety) all into my character. I also worked with two acting coaches and we did exercises via Zoom. I took it scene by scene, trying to understand the subtext of the film and back story of the character.”

Kapoor’s character in Spotlight goes through a journey and declares at the end that he has become an artist. Talking about his own journey in the film industry, the actor says, “The films (that he has featured in) are all very unique. Spotlight is dark, Bhavesh Joshi Superhero is a vigilante drama and Mirzya is abstract romance while AK Vs AK is proper meta and a thriller comedy. I loved all the films, I am very proud of my short filmography, they are so different from each other and also different from what you actually see. I think that is what art should be – good or bad is a different matter – but it should initiate a conversation. It should reach out to smaller group of passionate people as opposed to the masses.”

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