Myth: Bollywood actors lack opinion
It’s tough being a celebrity today. Actors are expected to have an opinion on every headline and controversy—if they don’t, they are mocked. If they do, it could adversely impact their popularity, brand endorsements and even their next release. “It’s true. If I have an opinion on an issue at the threshold of a new release, and if somebody takes it badly, it could put my film’s release in jeopardy,” Kapoor concurs. “A celebrity can affect lakhs of people in that moment. But we are also vulnerable, soft targets. If tomorrow we are given the assurance that our film’s release, or our industry, won’t be threatened because we voice our opinions on current affairs, we would be more willing to express our thoughts,” he adds.
With actors like Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan coming under fire for sharing their political views, and Alia Bhatt getting trolled after her infamous faux pas on Koffee With Karan, most actors are getting increasingly cautious about sharing their opinions on public platforms.
Myth: Most co-stars hook up on sets
PR exercise or gossip mill, celebrity affairs are still the headlining act of Bollywood news. Ever since Mubarakan was announced, there have been rumours about this duo’s alleged “link up,” even as Shetty and Kapoor have denied them. Shetty laughs it off. “You know, when his first film came out, I was in 10th grade. He’s my senior. We’re so used to it. And Arjun is linked to every co-star,” says Shetty, teasing Kapoor, who takes the jibe in his stride. “That’s part and parcel of the job. It’s like waking up in the morning,” says the already-seasoned Kapoor. “When you become an actor you have to be prepared to let go of your privacy beyond a certain point. You have to maintain that within the confines of your home. That is the compromise you make the day you become an actor,” he adds. Shetty may still be getting accustomed to the scrutiny and gossip, but she relies on her father’s advice on how to deal with the intrusiveness: “He said, ‘Take it with a pinch of salt and don’t stress about it. Lack of privacy is the price of stardom.’”
Myth: Bollywood is packed with airheads
George Clooney, Susan Sarandon, Meryl Streep…Hollywood actors never shy of their political and social leanings. But closer to home, actors steer clear of controversy, rarely expressing anti-establishment opinions. An agitated Shetty recounts a recent conversation. “I was having a discussion with someone who said the film industry is not for intelligent people. Things like that really irritate me. You dance to Bollywood songs at weddings, you love the gossip, you go to the movies every weekend but then you pass a comment like this!” Kapoor chips in: “It’s such a generalisation: ‘most actors’. These clichés contribute to creating the illusion that this industry is the worst place to be. And I hate that because there is an emotion, and a connection, something that engages everybody. Every business has problems but nobody speaks about the good part because that doesn’t make for good copy.”
Photographed by Thomas Whiteside. Styled by Fabio Immediato
Hair: Olivier Schawalder/ Atomo Management. Make-up: Polly Osmond/Premier Hair and Makeup. Hair assistant: Kim Rance. Make-up assistant: Charlene Williams. Assistant stylist: Ievan Darwin. Manicure: Amy Streets/LMC Worldwide