You don’t need reminding that Rhea Kapoor is Anil Kapoor’s daughter. Even if you don’t connect the dimpled chin and lush lashes, you can’t miss the actor as he hovers over the photographer telling him which angle is good and then bullies him into deleting the ones he disapproves - his tenor, bombastic game show host-cross-over-actor-like. Not to be confused with the tapori Anil Kapoor of Hifazat and Laadla.
“I don’t know how it feels not to be Anil Kapoor’s daughter,” says the middle offspring, lounging over a couch, head on her hand. “I was born this way,” Rhea says with a laugh.
At the helm of the Anil Kapoor Films, she’s the producer behind the Emma adaptation Aisha, starring elder sister Sonam and Abhay Deol.
For a first-time producer and at 23, she’s mellow and sharp; and at ease with comparisons with famous family members - glancing at a picture taken at a low angle she exclaims, “I look like Sanjay Kapoor! Delete that!”
“Isn’t the dream to take over the family business?” she asks. “This is my family business! People tell me I have it easy because Anil Kapoor is my father. I say, ‘If your father ran a steel mill, wouldn’t you run it too?’” A self-confessed papa’s girl, she recounts many a birthday when she would refuse to cut the cake unless her father was present.
“In so many birthday pictures, you’ll see dad in make-up and costume, having rushed from a shooting,” she guffaws. “He wasn’t around so much when we were growing up. He’s done a hundred films you know.
Lately, he’s realised he hasn’t spent enough time with us and is trying to catch up. And we have to tell him to go away!”
Life’s been an easy transition so far. She’s from the first batch of Dhirubhai Ambani School, and followed it up with theatre in New York University.
In New York she caught the vintage bug, shopping at thrift stores, and passed it on to her family. Conversation with these Kapoor sisters cannot veer far from fashion.
As the team discussed the characters of Aisha, they drew up mood boards, visualising what each person’s wardrobe that would define their character. And then Rhea went shopping to New York.
“Aisha (Sonam) is a mix between Audrey Hepburn and American socialite Olivia Palermo,” she explains. “Pinky Bose (Ira Dubey) is the Manish Arora girl - she celebrates fashion and doesn’t think twice before wearing really outrageous pieces. Abhay is a preppy (Christian) Dior boy.”
The understanding of the synthesis of costume and character is very integral to both the girls. So much so that she roped in the fashion house of Christian Dior to be a part of the project.
Shouldn’t acting be on the cards? “My brother is a complete hero,” she says speaking of Harshvardhan. “He loves taking photographs and all that. I can’t imagine sitting for hours in the make-up chair or waiting for the shot to get ready. This is it for me, for the time being. As a producer, I can’t pass the blame of a bad film on to anyone else.
And yet I have to not interrupt the creative flow. It’s easy to get involved in the minutiae of the film and try to control everything. But then I have to step back and look at the big picture and see whether fighting over a tiny detail is going to affect it.”
She’s very clear that she’s not looking to make heavy, intellectual movies that vie for international acclaim. “Even fun, commercial films can have a soul. Look at Three Idiots. I want to make films that have a soul,” she says.
Brownie points for not saying, “Hatke.”