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Janhvi Kapoor on wanting ‘Izzat’ beyond stardom

Janhvi Kapoor on times she felt 'damaged', her mother Sridevi & wanting 'Izzat' beyond stardom in conversation with Barkha Dutt at We The Women

Janhvi Kapoor reveals her vulnerable side in the most emotionally open conversation she has ever had at We The Women, the flagship festival curated by award-winning journalist Barkha Dutt. At the forum’s sixth edition, Janhvi Kapoor spoke candidly about coping with the loss of her mother Sridevi, seeking validation from the audience, and dealing with hurtful comments about her privilege.

The conversation took an especially emotional turn as she spoke about Sridevi’s death and how she turned to work as a distraction. “I don’t think I coped with it for a very long time. I don’t think I went about it in the way I should have gone about it…. When we had her my life was completely different and when we lost her, I was bang in the middle of the shoot of my first film. It was almost as if the life I was leading before her death was an idealistic and fictional life… It was during COVID, when I was forced to spend time with myself that I realised how damaged I was… I was almost like a zombie… on a hamster wheel doing things I didn’t even need to do, in a race that I didn’t need to be in with myself and seeking the company of people that I didn’t really even want in my life just to fill a void,” she said, choking up.

She told Barkha Dutt of “the strange guilt” she felt in the aftermath of her mother’s death. “When I lost Mom, of course it was this huge tragedy and a hole in my heart but there was this horrible feeling that because of my privilege and being told my entire life that I have got things so easy… there was this weird guilt that I deserve this horrible horrible thing that’s happened to me… This feeling was such a weird thing to process as a young girl,” the actor said.

Janhvi said that she later realised that seeking validation from her audience after her mother’s death was displaced grief. “I think the validation and approval that I sought from my mother; I started seeking that from them… Not everyone in the world is going to love you like they are your mother.”

When Barkha Dutt asked Janhvi Kapoor what she remembers when she closes her eyes and thinks of her mother, she said, “I just remember her calling me Ladoo… Every time I am on set and I am in front of the camera. I feel like in front of the camera is the closest I’ll ever be to her (my mother). That’s why it’s such a sacred space for me.”

Known for her roles in films such as Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl and Mili, the actress spoke to Barkha Dutt about wanting “Izzat” beyond stardom. Talking about what drives her to choose certain kinds of films, she said “It might hurt my ego a little bit to be inconsequential in a film because I have more to offer, and I want to prove to myself that I can take up a challenge… somewhere or the other it comes down to the fact that mauke bahut aasani se mile lekin Izzat abhi tak nahin mili. So that’s what I am working on.”

In a magical moment on stage, the actor who is learning how to play cricket for her new film ‘Mr and Mrs Mahi’ bantered with 14 year old Mumal Meher, the cricket sensation from rural Barmer who has caught the eye of the entire country including Sachin Tendulkar.

Kapoor’s honesty and vulnerability in this interview has resonated with many. On special request by a young fan present at the We The Women festival, Janhavi took over the stage for an impromptu dance on the evergreen and much-appreciated track of her debut film, Zingaat from Dhadak.

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