Janhvi Kapoor on riding high, yet staying on stable ground

She may only be 25, but the actor has already become wiser, stronger, and more focused in her craft. In an exclusive conversation, Kapoor speaks about family, cinema, the women who inspire her, and more...

Harper's Bazaar India

25-year-old Janhvi Kapoor has seen much in life...the highs and lows, fame and glory, and now, at the cusp of turning a year older, the actor finds herself grounded in herself, and her work. For the Bazaar India covershoot, dressed in high-octane reds and pinks, it’s almost like the fiery shades echo her inner desire to make her mark as the finest actor on-screen. A master of her craft. “I just really want to do good work. I want to grow with my craft and create a relationship with my audience,” Kapoor confesses with an evolved confidence, close on the heels of rave reviews for her performance in Mili and Good Luck Jerry, both of which made critics sit up in their seats to take notice of her scope as a performer.

And then, there is her 21-million-strong Instagram handle, that’s a peep into the life and times of the young star. Stylish, experimental, determined, and plain you’ll see a Reel of Kapoor dancing with a friend; another of dad (and filmmaker) Boney Kapoor’s face superimposed onto Drake’s body; videos of her working out; and numerous snapshots of the actor in smouldering styles. Kapoor is owning her presence across the landscape, as she tells us she trusts herself more than ever before. Welcome, the more confident, more adept Janhvi Kapoor. 

image: Corset Midi Dress, Versace 

Nandini Bhalla: As we step into the New Year, what are your resolutions or hopes for 2023?

Janhvi Kapoor: “All my hopes and aspirations for this year are related to my work... I want to be able to prove myself through my craft.”

NB: Are you the kind of person who plans and follows a path?

JK: “I think there’s a lot of security in having a roadmap. In this line of work, I’ve learnt that everything happens for the best—even if 99 percent of the time it doesn’t happen as planned.”

NB: Are you an overthinker, or do you tend to go with the flow?

JK: “I go with the flow... I used to be an overthinker, but now, I prefer being more relaxed.”

image: Valentino Crepe Couture Short Neckline Dress, and Valentino Pink PP Tights, both Valentino; earrings, Zoya Jewels.  

NB: What kind of work do you want to do more of? 

JK: “I’m really looking forward to starring in a heartwarming love story. In hindsight, I don’t think I’ve portrayed conventional heroines on-screen, such as in a romcom. You know, where the actor just comes in, looks a certain way, and sings romantic songs—I haven’t had that. So, I’d like to be part of such a project, which, of course, does justice to me as an artist as well.”

NB: And when you talk about such a role, is there any specific film or actress that comes to mind?

JK: “Kareena (Kapoor Khan) in Jab We Met (2007), Alia (Bhatt) in pretty much all of her films, Deepika (Padukone) in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013), and Kajol, too! I think there is so much vivaciousness, liveliness, beauty, and romance that they lend to their films. My mother (Sridevi), and even Madhuri (Dixit Nene) ma’am, if I come to think of it. In my opinion, people tend to cage the Indian heroine into a stereotypical role...but the commercial Indian heroine is so much more than that! She is beautiful, glamorous, and constantly evolving. Of late, the female characters in our films have expanded their scope. I believe the Indian actress can be aspirational and relatable at the same time.”

NB: How have you grown as a person over the past few years? 

JK: “I have definitely become more confident. And I’d like to think I’ve become wiser, too. I am feeling a lot more secure. I trust myself a bit more, as well as those around me. I think I’m more open to taking risks, and not taking myself so seriously.”

NB: Do you think that you’ve evolved as an actor?

JK: “Well, I hope so...but, I mean, that’s a question for the audiences to answer... I do think my confidence and ability have given me the courage to push myself a bit more. I’m a firm believer in hard work, and putting in the hours...that’s been my go-to since day one. There’s no substitute for hard work.”

NB: And who are the cheerleaders in your life?

JK: “My family! My sisters, my brother, my father, and my friends. They’re constantly rooting for me, supporting me, and guiding me. I am blessed to have a very solid support system—owing to the goodwill of my parents, and, I’d like to believe,  because of some of the work I’ve done as well. Besides that, the audiences have showered my parents with abundant love for the work that they have done in the industry—as a result of which, some of that love has trickled down to me, for which I am forever grateful.”

NB: How do you deal with criticism?

JK: “At the end of the day, you have to see some things for what they really are. Unfortunately, most people cannot. But now, after having been in the business a while and having done a few thousand interviews, you see through things... You can gauge why people are thinking a certain way, or how the audience is getting played by clickbait headlines. You can understand why there is a certain kind of chatter about someone, and how much of it is coming from a genuine place, or simple hatred. It is what it is, so I don’t let it bother me. No matter what you do, somebody will find faults or have something to say, because that makes them feel important. Next thing you know, you’ve made the headlines...and unfortunately, people feed off of that.

I’m extremely thankful that I’ve gotten to a point where I can laugh it off. I know my strengths and weaknesses... I’m objective enough to know when I’ve done a good job, and when I haven’t. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I also know when I have made some headway, and have given something my all. And through my last two films, I think, I’ve at least established that I have something to offer as an actor.

You know, it really hurts when you’re putting in the hard work, the sweat and blood, or undergoing the mental turmoil, and some random, anonymous person on the Internet goes like, ‘Acting nahi aati toh kyun karti ho, nepotism ki bacchi?’ (If you can’t act, why do you try, nepo-baby?) It takes all of a second to reduce you to something insignificant. On the other hand, if somebody says, ‘You were good in Mili, but you could improve your performance in another film,’ then I respect that. You get to a point where you just have to acknowledge that some people are plain sad—for the lack of a better word—and are on a quest to snatch away your happiness.”

NB: What is your working style? 

JK: “I prioritise hard work. I’ve always held that outlook. And I’ve always been very clear about my goals in life...I want to live up to my mother’s legacy. Again, this doesn’t come from a place of arrogance, but a desire to want to give back to my parents, as well as the audiences. It all boils down to hard work, effort, and consistency. I had my foot in the door first, and things came easier to me. And while I may have gotten certain opportunities more easily, I also feel like I’m at a disadvantage. In the sense, people aren’t going to come and watch my films from a neutral perspective—they’re going to come in saying, ‘Oh, she’s gotten by easily in life; she’s privileged.’ So I have to convince them that I have something to offer; I work hard, and I value everything that I have been given. I love cinema, and I am not apologetic about it anymore, because I know I’m good at what I do... I’m just warming up.”

image: Ruffled bodice strapless high-low gown, Gauri & Nainika; zambian emeralds with grey rhodium polish earrings, Renu Oberoi Jewellery

NB: When you enact certain roles, do they tend to become a part of who you are?

JK: “I think I learn from all my characters... And yes, I do pick up some stuff that can be hard to let go of.”

NB: What brings you true happiness?

JK: “My work.”

NB: How has your definition of beauty evolved over the years?

JK: “I think the notion of beauty is drifting further away from the idea of perfection. Everyone is leaning more towards being as natural as you can be.”

NB: I see your personal style as being very sexy and glamorous. How would you define your style? 

JK: “My style changes according to my mood...” 

NB: What are your views on privacy? 

JK: “Over time, I’ve become more guarded. I like not being seen as much, sometimes. I think there’s a fear of over-exposure, given the world of social media. And even with the paparazzi, I genuinely hate giving interviews. I wish acting was a job where I live out these amazing stories and experiences, and then come home and work on my blog or organise my money.”


Photographs by Vaishnav Praveen, Styling by Pranay Jaitly and Shounak Amonkar.

Hair: Mike Desir; Make-up: Lekha Gupta; Styling assistants: Shubham Jawanjal, Chaitanya Balwant, and Arjun S Kumar; Production: Studio Little Dumpling