The recently released Mili, her fifth after Dhadak, Gunjan Saxena, Roohi and Goodluck Jerry, was Janhvi Kapoor’s first film with dad Boney.
In the past, Boney has worked hard to design the launch of his brothers Anil Kapoor (Woh Saat Din, 1983) and Sanjay Kapoor (Prem, 1995), and has produced the debut film of star kids like Esha Deol (Koi Mere Dil Se Poochhe, 2002).
Considering he’s still an active producer juggling with films in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu, what stopped him from giving Janhvi a grand debut?
“It would’ve been too much of an emotional pressure on him and me,” Janhvi revealed recently. “It (the decision for Boney not to launch Janhvi) was a decision that both of us took.”
But Janhvi got the best alternative of being launched by Karan Johar. A debut with Dharma comes with its own premium tag apart from the fact that Karan pulls out the stops to introduce his proteges with the most impressive drum roll ever.
“People assume that being launched by Karan is as good as being launched by my father but it isn’t the same thing. I did have a process with that as well. I had to audition for that as well,” Jahnvi explained. “I had my foot in the door,” she accepted, “I can’t deny my privilege but I can’t be apologetic about it. At the same time, I can’t give people the narrative that they want to believe which is that maybe my mom (Sridevi) called up Karan and my debut just happened. Because that’s not what happened.”
So how did it happen?
“I went up to Karan and spoke to him at a party,” Janhvi described the process. “He then came home to meet my mom and said, ‘Let her come and read with me.’ I did a series of five to six readings where he would print out different scenes for me every day and I’d essentially audition. Not for any particular film. He was just seeing if I could be an option he’d even want to consider to be a part of his company and he didn’t say anything for a long time. Then one day he said, ‘I want you to audition something for Shashank.’ So I did a series of auditions for Shashank and that’s how Dhadak happened.”
It therefore wasn’t a cakewalk with the family name alone opening all the doors. She had to work at it like anyone else. Like letting filmmakers know that she wants to work with them.
“Yes, yes, many times,” she disclosed. “I’ve called up many people, begged for meetings, shown up and I’ve auditioned. I stalked Nitesh (Tiwari) Sir for Bawaal. I stalked Sajid (Nadiadwala) Sir to get that film. Even with Karan, if I hear that Dharma’s making a film, it’s not a given that I’m going to be in it. I need to speak to the director, I need to speak to Karan, I need to show up for an audition if required, I need to try. Everyone needs to try. I had my foot in the door, people were aware of me. I had the luxury not to wait in the queue outside Aram Nagar to get an audition. But I still had to audition. I’m intrinsically aware of my privilege but that doesn’t mean I’m entitled.”
Like sister Khushi who also had the same privilege and has snagged a debut with Zoya Akhtar?
“Yes, but now it’s up to her. And she also had to audition for it.
“I think that unless you prove yourself with your work, the audience has no reason to accept you,” observed the well-spoken celebrity kid. “Our goal in life is to try and prove ourselves.”
Lineage alone cannot serve anybody stardom a platter.