Abhishek Kapoor
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Kedarnath is one of the most important stories that I can tell: Abhishek

By HT

He started his career as an actor in Uff! Yeh Mohabbat (1996) but then turned towards direction with Aryan in 2006. 
 
Now, as film-maker Abhishek Kapoor enters the 12th years of his direction career with Kedarnath, we catch up with him about life, career and more.
 
As a director, this is your 12th year in the industry? What, according to you, has been the biggest highlight?
 
There have been quite a few memorable moments – be it receiving a National Award for Rock On (2008) or presenting Kai Po Che (KPC; 2013) at the Berlin Film Festival. But personally, one of the biggest moments for me has been when Salim (Khan) uncle gave me his Deewar Filmfare Award trophy for Best story after seeing KPC. That was the ultimate recognition as it came from someone, whom I respect immensely.
 
You also had a tryst with acting. Which one – direction or acting – is more thrilling and satisfying?
 
There is a phase in life when – regardless of whether you’re ready or not – you want to grab the best opportunities. I took up acting during that phase of my life. But acting and directing are different animals. My tryst with acting was flirty, but my relationship with direction is a full-blown, passionate affair. I did not give myself a thorough chance at acting as I immersed myself in direction. As a result, direction has been very satisfying, which I never got as an actor.
 
Be it Farhan Akhtar in Rock On or Sushant Singh Rajput in KPC, you seem to have a knack of working with newcomers…
 
I don’t mind working with any actor, provided they are excited about portraying the character that I am bringing to life, and match my enthusiasm and excitement. As I’ve always said, ‘I can chase my characters, but maybe not my actors.’
 
Fitoor didn’t do very well commercially but it was a ‘passion project’ for you. How satisfying was that experience creatively?
 
Some movies bring instant rewards, and some bring dividends later in life. Fitoor (2016) was an extremely enriching project for me. It was a rare opportunity as a film-maker to create a movie that was filled with a certain kind of refined beauty and detail. You do think of your movies as your children, and they’re all different and worthy of being loved in different ways.
 
From the start – regardless of box office figures – you have chosen unusual subjects for your films, which tend to be very different from each other…
 
I am a curious person by nature. I believe in venturing outside my comfort zone and I like to immerse myself in a new world. With each idea I have, I start from scratch to try to get into the world of the characters, and so I get to learn new things. I find that very enriching, and with that approach, there is purity in what I have to say. Repeating yourself may be comfortable, but that way, all you do is just reinforce your ego. You tend to repeat what you found success in hence you might get real cozy but that’s not why I became a film-maker.
 
One of the biggest contemporary human tragedies of India has been the Kedarnath tragedy. Now, you are making a film with that as the backdrop. Has it been challenging to do that?
 
There are so many remarkable and heart-wrenching incidents that took place during the 2013 floods which could not leave my mind. I believe it is one of the most important stories that I can tell for modern India. Yes, it’s been challenging to bring it to the screen and the process of doing that is not over yet, as we are just halfway through. When it is done, I’ll look back and decide whether it was challenging or not. Right now, we are just blazing through it.