Jersey – Shahid Kapoor and Mrunal Thakur Interview

VIDEO INTERVIEW


TRANSCRIPT

Aman/SAARI: My name’s Aman from SAARI Collective and we’re absolutely thrilled to be talking to two amazing actors about their new film Jersey – none other than Shahid Kapoor and Mrunal Thakur. Welcome to the two of you, thank you very much for joining!

Shahid Kapoor: Thank you Aman!

Aman: To kick things off I guess, have either of you ever visited Australia before?

Shahid: *Looking at Mrunal while laughing* How long were you there for?

Mrunal Thakur: I was there for a day…and it’s been more than four years I think.

Shahid: I was there for a day and a half…longer for me it’s probably been like ten years or something.

Aman: I think it’s time to definitely come back, I’m sure a lot has changed so we’d love to have you back on our shores.

Shahid: Yeah we’d love to, we’d love to come!  

Aman: Shahid, your role in Jersey is one of many complex, emotive characters you’ve played over the years. What was one of the biggest challenges in embodying this character compared to your previous films?

Shahid: Well firstly when you do a sports drama, the most important is getting the sport right. So I spent extensive amounts of time learning the sport. We played very legitimate cricket, everything that we have done in the film is real, we’ve not done any kind of like computer graphics for the ball or some fake shots which later had some ball added to it, we’ve not done any of that stuff. We really wanted to make it look authentic and so we had to practice a lot. So I spent almost five or six months just learning the sport which was very gruelling, because you know I’m not 19, so you know it was tough on the body and tough on the mind. To pick up a skill and make it look legitimate for being a first-class player or a player who can play at the national level, it was definitely challenging.

But other than that, I really feel the emotionality of this character was what was the most exciting thing about this film and this specific character Arjun. I could connect very deeply with his journey at both ages, because he’s a 36 year old, and he’s also a 25 year old, and he’s a popular 25 year old and a struggling 36 year old, and he’s married and he has a child, and everything in his life is affected by his family and his circumstances. I’m at an age where I can really connect with that journey, and more than that I think you should all see the film and you’ll get to understand the emotionality of the character.


Photo credit: YouTube.

Aman: Great! And Mrunal, for yourself I guess your character is portrayed a bit different to the “typical” female character we see in films, what was it about her that drew you towards the character?

Mrunal: Oh thank God for that, because I was really tired of playing the “sweet” one who was always supportive. It was a difficult one, trust me because she’s a girl who’s very practical. They’re in a marriage and there are a lot of responsibilities and she expects some kind of appreciation from her husband, but my husband is really into being unreasonable, he’s there, he wants to achieve his goals and his passion –

Shahid: *jokingly* She’s still in character, she sounds like a wife - “my unreasonable husband!”

Mrunal: *laughing along* Yeah so I would say I actually took my Mother’s help in order to play this character. I kept asking her since the film is set in the 80s and 90s, so I used to ask Mum “What was your priority?” and she said “My priority was always the family first.” She wanted to make sure that everything is okay, the child gets everything that he or she deserves. So I felt that somewhere down the line, Vidya’s character was expecting that kind of appreciation or at least that effort from her husband to provide for the family and provide for the kid. But imagine, in Delhi at that time, and in Punjab and Chandigarh, if the husband is not earning – *in Hindi* kya guzarti hogi uspe, aur kya log jitna bolte hai (What would she be going through, especially when people gossip so much)– imagine the wife what she must be going through, like “Your husband is good for nothing? What is he up to? Why is he not taking all those responsibilities?” 

Then it kind of starts playing on your mind, so I love the fact that Vidya is so practical, she’s so strong, unlike other characters I’ve played in the past. Preparation, if you ask me it was really difficult to get into the skin of the character. Like the first schedule I got was really difficult, but I think later Shahid helped me out, my Director really helped me out. And it was a smooth journey, I thoroughly enjoyed the process. I love the younger portion (of the film), we had lots and lots of fun in spite of COVID.

Shahid: That was the first thing we shot after COVID, so it was like kids in a park. You know nobody had gotten out for so long, the fact that we were out and about and not stuck in our houses we felt so happy about that.

Mrunal: Yeah I was just so happy to be on set.

Shahid: Also the part of the film where Mrunal and I get to be happy around each other, we were not all angsty – 

Mrunal: *frustratingly* I felt like I was always thinking “Why do I have to be so mean to you Shahid? I’m so sorry I have to hit you, I have to be yelling all the time, this is not me!” And that’s why we really enjoyed the ‘86/’87 portion (of filming).


Photo credit: YouTube.

Aman: Sounds like it was a really fun experience! Shahid, one of the great themes of this film is the closeness of that relationship between the Father and Son. How important is it for audiences to see this closeness and a more vulnerable and expressive or emotive man on-screen – did you draw from any of your own experiences or did you lean on your Father being on set?

Shahid: No actually me and Dad have a very different kind of relationship in this film as coach and student, so that’s a very different equation. But of course you have to delve into being a parent and because I have two children, and I’m a full-fledged father for the last five years now – my daughter’s five and my son’s three – I kind of get how emotional a child can make you feel. How a small thing that a child does can stay with you forever, how innocent and raw that nerve is between your child and you. It’s possibly the purest sentiment that you can feel, because most relationships you’re dealing with people who have also seen life and seen the world, but you know with children it’s just very pure and it’s very unadulterated. So it just hits a very vulnerable part of your heart, and that’s actually one of my favourite things in this film, that so much comes from what he feels as a Father. It’s there in the promo as well where he (the Father) says – *in Punjabi* Main apne bete ki aankhon mein ek katra bhi kum main hon nahi dayaanga (No matter what, I won’t let him think any less of me) – so things like that, those moments are really what Jersey stands for and what it’s all about. And I think they are just so relatable. 

Aman: Great, very nice. And Mrunal, recently you’ve done another sports-related film and in general we’ve seen many sports-related films do well in India and around the world. Not only do they highlight the sports star but also the people behind the sports star who’ve been giving support along the way. What is it about sports or these stories that captivates audiences? 

Mrunal: I think the human drama you know, what was fascinating for me when it comes to doing Jersey and what attracted me to doing this role was the fact that even though it was sports-based and set against the cricket background, there is so much happening when it comes to Arjun, there’s so much happening when it comes to Vidya, between Arjun and the coach, between Father and the Son, you know that was very interesting. The emotions, the journey – everyone has their journey you know? If you make it, if you don’t make it, there’s still so much struggle involved. 

Aman: Yeah, that’s great. So Shahid for you this is your second recent remake project that you’ve been a part of –

Shahid: Yeah it is my second, I haven’t done a remake before and now I’ve done two back-to-back so yeah it's weird and interesting!

Aman: Yeah so as an actor, how do you approach having that balance between respecting the original source material and portrayal, while also trying to make it authentic and add your own flavour to the character?

Shahid: It starts with spending time with the filmmaker and understanding whether he’s looking for something original in terms of the performance. If you meet a filmmaker and you like the subject but you feel like they just want to recreate and just copy-paste it, then there’s nothing to add as a creative being. But if they’re looking to rediscover and adapt and bring it into the world, the culture and the language that you’re making it for, then there is potential there. And I felt very strongly that Gowtam (Director) is very open to make the same film, but a very fresh film because he wanted to understand how things are in Chandigarh, he wanted to understand the culture, the language, the musicality, sociocultural differences that are there. He wanted to rediscover it, he did not want to recreate it. So for me, that was what convinced me that this would be a very original experience – as much as it’s a remake I think it’s a very original experience for me as an actor – and I think also to a great degree for Gowtam.

Mrunal: And what is interesting is Gowtam sir, our Director, he never put that pressure on our shoulders that you have to be exactly the way that Nani or Shraddha (lead actors in original film) performed. He said “Mrunal I’m really open to if you feel something and if you have a suggestion I’m quite open for that.” So that was really interesting because he wanted that freshness to the character that we were playing.


Photo credit: YouTube.

Aman: Great! Well l think that’s enough of the more serious sort of questions, we just wanted to try something short and fun for a bit of change of pace.

Mrunal: Go for it!

Aman: So Shahid, what’s your dream location to film?

Shahid: *cheekily* Australia?

Aman: That’s good, I was hoping you’d say that!

Shahid: *laughing* Was that the right answer?

Mrunal: I would like to come to Australia because I actually want to go there –

Shahid: *interjecting* I also actually want to go there, I’m not saying it for effect!

Mrunal: *laughingly* Yeah, but my best friend lives there so I’m –

Shahid: Oh, your best friend lives there?

Mrunal: *excitedly* Yeah she lives there and I can’t wait to watch the movie with her!

Aman: Yep, I think definitely both of you have got to make a trip soon! Mrunal, has there been any funny moments or embarrassing incidents on set on Jersey?

Mrunal: Oh there were many! *laughing* There were so many!

Shahid: Yeah with Mrunal such incidents are always there!  *laughing*

Mrunal: Listen, I’m very clumsy. I’m so clumsy that every scene I’ll end up doing something or the other and I’ll be embarrassed. I used to fall, trip everywhere so I would tell people around me that if I trip, if I fall or if I do something silly, please laugh. So that I feel better about it! But with Shahid and I, I think there were so many moments like something that we shared yesterday in the behind-the-scenes, it was madness! Like the things that we did on set were just crazy. To be specific, I’ll tell you. First week, I remember I was fumbling so much and I was freezing also. There were times where they would say “roll, camera, action” and I would tell myself to stop shivering. I would literally go like *starts to physically shiver and clatter teeth and suddenly stop*. So it was random, it may not sound funny but there you were free. I was freezing to death because they asked me to remove my shoes because it was making that noise “tak-tak-tak” –

Shahid: *interjecting* I don’t know why you did, I just refused. I was like “I’m not going to remove my shoes!” Why would you do that?

Mrunal: I removed my shoes and it was so cold! It was damn cold!

Shahid: *in Hindi* Itna committed actor bhi mat bano yaar! (Don’t be such a committed actor, mate!)

Aman: Full method acting, fully embracing the role!

Mrunal: *laughing along* Yeah I wish I was good at it, but I had fun shooting this film!

Aman: And lastly, as I mentioned, SAARI Collective is a creative community and with both of you being creative individuals, do either of you have any tips or messages to encourage creativity amongst South Asians?

Mrunal: I would like to say if you’re creative at something please do not stop. You know they feel under confident, they just need that one push. So please guys bring out the best, just share it with your friends and people who are really excited to learn that particular craft or art. Because I remember a couple of my friends and family members are so shy about their qualities – 

Shahid: *interjecting* Their talents.

Mrunal: *agreeingly* Yeah! So please don’t shy away guys, just go for it. Make it big!

Shahid: Yeah I would just say, you know true creativity lies in originality. And you can’t draw a parallel to something that’s original, most people will not understand your creativity till you have understood how to show it to them. So don’t be afraid of people not understanding what you’re trying to do. It usually means that you’re onto something fresh and new, because they can’t draw a parallel and that’s actually a good thing. 

Aman: That’s a great message, really love that! Awesome, that’s pretty much all from us today so Shahid and Mrunal, thank you so much for your time once again. Wishing you lots of success for Jersey!

Mrunal: Thank you!

Shahid: Thank you so much, take care Aman. You share a name with the producer of our film.

Mrunal: *pointing towards off-camera* One who’s sitting right next to us.

Aman: *laughingly* Oh really, it’s a good name! Special thanks to Mind Blowing Films as well for organising this interview. Jersey is coming to cinemas around Australia on the 22nd of April so be sure to give it a watch. Thank you very much.

Shahid: *excitedly* Go watch ittttt!

Mrunal: Thank you!


SAARI Giveaway

Jersey is out in cinemas on April 22nd, 2022. For screening times in Australia, check out www.mindblowingfilms.com.

For your chance to win 2 free tickets to a screening:

1. Watch the full interview
2. Follow SAARI Collective on Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn
3. Tell us in the comments what your favourite answer from Shahid or Mrunal was

The winner will be announced on Friday 29th April via our socials!

Cast and Crew

Shahid Kapoor as Arjun Talwar
Mrunal Thakur as Vidya Talwar, Arjun's wife
Pankaj Kapoor as Madhav Sharma, Arjun's coach
Ronit Kamra as Karan Talwar aka Kittu, Arjun's son
Geetika Mehandru as Jasleen Shergil
Shishir Sharma as Atul
Rudrashish Majumdar as Rudra Juneja

Writer and Director: Gowtam Tinnanuri
Producers: Dil Raju, Aman Gill and Suryadevara Naga Vamsi
Editor: Naveen Nooli
Music by: Anirudh Ravichander and Sachet–Parampara


Aman Gupta, is a graphic designer based in Melbourne and is Head of Experience at SAARI Collective. You can connect with him via LinkedIn.