When Shahid Kapoor struggled to find work even after his debut film Ishq Vishk was a hit

Despite the instant footing gained through the charming college romance of Ishq Vishk, Shahid Kapoor encountered an unexpected twist in his early journey in the demanding Bollywood industry. Riding the waves of his acclaimed ‘chocolate boy’ avatar and impressive dance moves, Shahid quickly secured a fandom, particularly among female audiences. However, as the curtains fell on the applause for Ishq Vishk, the actor faced a sobering industry challenge – the pursuit of suitable roles for his youthful allure.

In an earnest dialogue on the Sit With Hitlist show, Shahid Kapoor opened up regarding the roadblocks he hit in the aftermath of his debut film. His youthful appearance, while a boon for his debut, turned into a double-edged sword. “There was no work for my age bracket. I look too young. So, I debut in a college film,” Shahid admitted, highlighting a casting conundrum that was a prevalent theme of his early career.

Producers, enamored by his initial success, were at crossroads exactly how to leverage Shahid’s appeal. Discussions often circled back to a major roadblock: “Your film did well, but who do we cast you with?” The industry giants, at the time, were not only older but exuded a different screen presence. Shahid recounted how names of established actresses were brought up, only for the conclusion to be drawn that he would look like a “child” next to them on the silver screen. They were seeking a massy hero – a criterion that the newbie actor felt he did not fit. “I have yet to grow into the ‘manly’ roles… Inside, I didn’t have the letter ‘M’ of mass in me. All that did happen at that time,” Shahid reflected on the pigeonholing trend.

His narrative took a more somber tone as he detailed the skepticism and rejections that followed. Hearing negative tones such as “You don’t stand a chance,” and “Nothing is going to happen for you here,” Shahid felt his options dwindle, leaving him to grasp at any project thrown his way, regardless of his fitting as a successful debutant. This rather frustrating phase stretched over half a decade, a time when the industry’s scripts were tailored with older actors in mind, leaving little room for a fresh face like Kaplan.

Shahid recounted the entrants before him, such as Hrithik Roshan and Vivek Oberoi, navigating a labyrinth that seemed to only accommodate aging stars. However, the actor embraced perseverance, eventually witnessing an evolving Bollywood scene opening up to younger talent and diverse narratives.

Shahid shared this wisdom with younger actors like Ishaan Khatter, assuring them that the industry today is more accommodating, having shed a significant part of its rigid encasement of ‘what works.’ “Now, everything is not boxed into the same mold anymore,” he said, expressing optimism for the new generation of actors who no longer have to confront the narrow confines that once stifled him.

Ishq Vishk, in hindsight, was both a blessing and an obstacle for Shahid Kapoor. But through the challenges, it is evident that his perseverance and adaptability steered him toward continued success, leaving behind important lessons on the volatile nature of the industry and the significance of resilience.

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