Bollywood actor Shahid Kapoor, happy and content to receive a positive response from the audience for Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Padmaavat", says that with each film, he has had to wait much longer than many of his contemporaries to achieve milestones in his career. But he chose to maximize his space with a skilled performance.
In "Padmaavat", Shahid essays Maharawal Ratan Singh, said to be a comparatively lesser known historical character than Delhi Sultan Alauddin Khilji or Rani Padmavati for common people.
It was quite ironical then that the real and reel met the same situation to navigate their way for finding a space -- as in the film Shahid was pitted against two author-backed characters Khilji and Padmavati, and in real life, between two stars like Ranveer and Deepika, who have together delivered hit films like "Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela" and "Bajirao Mastani".
"I think I always had to work much harder to get a good opportunity and had to wait longer than many, to get a milestone in my career. But I view it like this -- God has given me the opportunity to learn, has given me a destiny of a student. I have never given the same exam in life, but different.
"That is how I learnt different things in life and that has added to my experience," Shahid said in an interview here.
He believes "Padmaavat" threw up a "tricky opportunity" which could have "gone horribly wrong".
"But I took that risk because I have seen how after working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali sir, actors have got a huge mileage in terms of audience reach and success".
This was the first time Shahid was working with Bhansali. He says the director only commands excellence.
"I think Sanjay sir has a tendency to keep pushing and trying until he gets exactly what he wants from a performer. His passion to achieve excellence is much focused and therefore, he looks like a taskmaster. It is nothing negative, I would rather say that people who do not have that desire to achieve excellence, should not work with him.
"As a director, he is not difficult. He is just a genius and focused."
Shahid was confident about the film and not worried about its box office. However, he was concerned with a deeper aspect of his decision to take up the project.
"I questioned myself -- can I take the ownership of this film? Can I stand tall and say that I took a right decision by doing this film? Will I be able to perform my best before a filmmaker like Bhansali? Will I make the presence of my character felt in the film between two author-backed characters?"
That's when Shahid went back to classics to find inspiration for his performance. He sought reference points from veterans like Dilip Kumar of "Mughal-e-Azam" and Amitabh Bachchan from "Sholay".
Asked about how his father, veteran actor Pankaj Kapur reacted to the film, Shahid said: "Dad gave me a long hug, pulled my cheek and said we will talk about the film over a cup of coffee. But since then, I did not get a chance to go out with dad. I think I have to go for that."
Not reeling under the hangover of an intense character like Maharawal Ratan Singh, Shahid says he has wife Mira and daughter Misha to unwind with.
"Thankfully, I have Misha. It just takes 30 seconds for me to unwind."