Janhvi Kapoor Is the Gen Z Actor In The Know

Jan 13, 2022, 16:10 IST

JANHVI KAPOOR

Janhvi Kapoor is an integral element of the vanguard of Bollywood, who are searching for more. She leads the way with her bright talent, humour, authenticity, and Gen Z social media savvy. 

Do you remember when Janhvi Kapoor became a name with whom you were acquainted? For us, it was because of a picture the actor had posted on her Instagram in 2017; a cherubic shot, with her dressed in a white chikankari kurta and hair scooped up in a pony. The picture circulated so widely that, to this day, we cannot think of her without conjuring up that image. She had made her profile public – a prerequisite for someone who was about to be vaulted into the public consciousness as a new actor, scrubbed her previous profile clean of posts, as is the ritual, and inundated the space with stills from Dhadak, her debut movie, to announce her arrival to this brand-new world.

Four years later, the Gen Z actor is leading the pack of fresh-faced, multi-faceted stars who also know the power of social media – Janhvi’s reels are a work of art, period.

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Dress: Rahul Mishra; earrings: Outhouse; ring: Viange Fine Jewels; shoes: Jimmy Choo

D-day arrives. It’s 3 PM on a surprisingly pleasant day in Mumbai. Janhvi is wearing a turquoise floral dress and flip-flops. Her hair is swept off a face that seemingly has no trace of makeup. She greets everyone politely, takes a quick glance at the clothes rack, and makes her way into a room to get her hair and makeup done. She sits down in her chair, but something is not right – we can tell by the way her nose crinkles. It takes her a second, but she knows what it is; she asks if she can connect her phone to the speaker. Olivia Rodrigo’s Driver’s License plays in the background and she sinks into her seat comfortably. The stage is set.

“I remember when I was inactive on social media,” says Janhvi when we bring up her Instagram game, pointing to a time when her reels didn’t amass more views than the population of certain countries. “I would get a lot of flak from my team to be more out there and be less guarded. I think I underestimated the importance of that for very long. Because now that I am letting myself loose and having fun with it, I see a huge difference in how people perceive me.” So, how are people perceiving Janhvi? “I think as someone who is more approachable and relatable, and less mysterious and aspirational,” she says, crediting the Internet for this democratised attitude toward celebrities of a newer generation. As a paparazzi favourite whose daily moves – like arriving at the airport, going to the gym, or getting a smoothie – become trending subjects on Bollywood websites, it’s also imperative to ask an important question. At what point does the pressure of being highly visible start to feel overwhelming? “It’s important to not take it too seriously. This isn’t my job, and it most definitely isn’t my life. It is not a reflection of everything that you are capable of or are doing. It’s just a non-tangible world where you put things out, communicate, and have fun, but that’s about it.” We suppose being a teenager with access to social media, and immersed in pop culture, was an unexpected training ground for the actor, who, at just 24, has cracked the code to being content with her online persona.


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The muchness of Janhvi’s personality, at least the parts that she reveals to netizens, is kaleidoscopic. We say this after careful analysis of several matrices. Countless pictures of the actor in neon bikinis with salty hair tell us she’s a beach girl. She is close to her family – with Arjun and Anshula Kapoor, too, – whose relationship with the actor has been the subject of many clickbait articles – and is unafraid of showing her love via emotionally-worded captions. She loves to dance and often breaks into random routines in the most unexpected places. And, if pictures from the innumerable sets and shoot locations are proof, she’s always working. Just look at the 2022 she’s slated to have. There’s Mili, her first movie with her father, Boney Kapoor, which is a survival drama and a remake of the Malayalam movie Helen that chronicles a girl’s unimaginable struggle after accidentally getting trapped in a freezer. Then there’s Good Luck Jerry, a Hindi adaptation of the 2018 Tamil film Kolamavu Kokila, which will release sometime in May. She’s also in the middle of prepping for Mr. & Mrs. Mahi co-starring Rajkummar Rao. And, if you consider the grapevine to be a reliable source, then, there’s Karan Johar’s Takht that supposedly features an outrageous line-up of Ranveer Singh, Vicky Kaushal, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Bhumi Pednekar and Anil Kapoor, making her the talented rookie of the group.

When we get around to discussing her workaholic tendencies, she cites an affinity to always being busy to be a generational thing. “I think my generation brings in a lot of hard work. We are extremely ambitious and take our jobs very seriously. This is not to say that people before us didn’t work hard. Just that we are more in touch with public opinion and reality in general.” The reality that she hints at is the creative liberation that’s slalomed its way into the industry because of OTT platforms. It takes more than a heavyweight last name to stay afloat in a business that’s burgeoning with fresh talent every day – a certain type of star appeal you can’t buy.

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Dress: Gauri and Nainika; ring and earrings: Outhouse 

Work, in fact, is at the top of her to-do list for 2022. “I want to do a lot, a lot, a lot of work,” says Janhvi, whose biggest fear from the looks of it is succumbing to ennui. “I want to grow so much in my art, learn so much more about it, polish my skills, and just be an uninhibited and free artiste,” she says. Janhvi has been in the business for three years, worked in movies, and has even been a part of an OTT show, but one can’t pinpoint a role or a performance in her oeuvre yet that could be termed as an instant classic. She’ll get there, but in her own time. She isn’t bothered about the world heaping impossible pressure on her. “As a 24-year-old, I perceive success and failure as transitory. It’s important to understand that neither of these is permanent. I think growth is what matters more than success or failure.” The 14.8 million fans and casual observers who follow her on Instagram might only be privy to her fun side, but it is the uncontrived manner in which she talks about life that makes you wonder if she is actually an old soul. The pandemic, she says, has been instrumental in making her achieve this growth. By her own volition, she admits feeling like she’s matured 10 years mentally and that’s helped her to become this confident version of herself that we have gotten used to seeing. “I’ve also decided to cater to my own happiness rather than being a pushover, which I suppose I was. I don’t think I have it right completely, but I’ve definitely made some headway.”

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Top, trousers, earrings and shoes: Louis Vuitton

When you’re a star, a mega influencer, the face of a beauty conglomerate, and Manish Malhotra’s permanent muse, among other things, it’s easy to lose your head in fame. Lucky for Janhvi, she credits the army of people who keep her grounded, especially her father, who she says is the single most important person in her life. “I live in parts through the people I surround myself with. I take great pride in feeling like I surround myself with the right people who are extremely real and in touch with what is going on in the world. I spend most of my time with these people. We value kindness and honesty, which is why we get along so well,” she says. This love that Janhvi has for the people in her life is reciprocated in droves. When we contacted Mohit Rai – her stylist – for this story, he said, “Janhvi is a joyous person to be around. She’s not pretentious. She presents to the world what she is in real life, which, I think, has a lot to do with her upbringing. She’s constantly challenging me to work harder and keep up with Gen Z fashion because she’s so social media savvy and fashion aware.”

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Dress: Gauri and Nainika; earrings: Outhouse 

We experienced Janhvi’s fashion sense first-hand while we were zeroing in on her first look for our cover shoot – she was keen on wearing Rahul Mishra’s orange layered mini dress. She got involved in the process, picking out two earrings to pair with the frock, asking our opinion. For those who don’t know Janhvi, or the industry she occupies, it’s easy to confuse assertiveness with control. But after the evening we’ve just had, we see a self-aware 24-year-old woman, who is in the process of finding her voice and is unafraid of using it. As is her right… as is our right, as women. As we walk her out of the studio at the end of the day, a last question pops up during the conversation. What does she want most out of 2022? “I aspire for greatness,” she says with honesty. If actors like Janhvi are the future of Bollywood, no wonder it is filled with limitless potential and endless possibilities.

Photographs: Ajay Kadam; Videography: Vaibhav Nadgaonkar; Styling: Krishna Mukhi; Hair: Flavien Heldt (Faze Management); Makeup: Tanvi Chemburkar; Dress: Gauri and Nainika; Earrings: Outhouse; Cover design: Bendi Vishan