My Mother And My Brother, Shahid Kapoor, Are My Closest Confidantes: Ishaan Khatter

From Katrina Kaif's wicked sense of humour, to his shared love for dancing with Shahid Kapoor, the ‘Phone Bhoot’ actor bares it all.

Published On Oct 20, 2022 | Updated On Mar 06, 2024


When Shahid Kapoor’s younger brother made his debut with Majid Majidi’s India-set movie ‘Beyond The Clouds’ and followed it up with the romantic drama ‘Dhadak’, Ishaan Khatter proved that acting is in his genes. The actor added another feather to his hat when he worked in Mira Nair’s adaptation of Vikram Seth’s novel ‘A Suitable Boy’ and got a chance to work with Tabu in the British miniseries of the same name.

Just like any other actor in the industry, Khatter too wants to keep proving himself with every project he does. He has a family entertainer in the form of the horror comedy ‘Phone Bhoot’ coming up next, which will see him sharing screen space with Katrina Kaif and Siddhant Chaturvedi. There’s also ‘Pippa’, in which he plays a real-life war hero. Talking about families, Khatter is extremely close to his – especially his mother Neelima Azeem and brother Shahid. 

In a freewheeling chat with Zee Zest, Khatter opens up about his relationship with his family and the kind of film he would love to star in with his brother and more. 

Diwali, just like any other Indian festival, is all about celebrating with family. Our country is multi-cultural and I have been born and brought up in a very secular household. I celebrate every festival with the same enthusiasm and love, and every festival for me is defined by the people I celebrate with – my family and friends. 

Our film also lends itself to family and friends’ kind of viewing. It’s got horror and comedy which are both fun genres to watch in a theatre. It’s the perfect time to watch a film like this.  

I remember the first day on the sets quite vividly. I was looking forward to working with Katrina. I was recently reminded that I have worked as a background dancer with her. So, it has come full circle for me to be working with her. She doesn’t bring the weight of her seniority on sets. She is really cool and has a wicked sense of humour, of which you will get to see a glimpse in this film. She is having a lot of fun at the cost of herself in this film which is great. This is the kind of film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, so we all took a note from it, and we had fun with the material. Working with Kat was a lot of fun. She is a thorough professional. She knows her lines and works on them constantly.  

I am the closest to my mother and brother. My mom is my go-to person. I have had my entire journey growing as a cinephile and then a young actor and now I have done some work. I have shared it all with her. She is the first person I share things with. Now I’m trying to tread my path a little bit and surprise her because she is also my first audience. 

I still recall the day my mom saw my first film ‘Beyond The Clouds’ at the BFI London Film Festival at its premiere. That was the first time I saw the film as well with an audience of a 1,000 people and all I wanted to know was what my mom thought of it. She came out of the theatre and she was like ‘who are you?’ I still get goosebumps saying that because she knows me the best. For her to say that was the biggest compliment for me. I’m just trying to get that feeling again — for her to come up to me after watching a movie of mine and repeat those words. 

My brother Shahid Kapoor and I share everything. Our relationship has evolved over the years. He and I have become more like confidantes and friends now. Earlier he was more like ‘chup kar, chapat doonga ek. Meri baat sunn’ (laughs). Now he likes to listen to what I say as well. I really cherish his opinion and presence in my life. 

Bhai (Shahid) has always inspired me in some way or the other. He is a fantastic dancer and he is so graceful. He has trained for many years with Shiamak Davar. I have also trained, so I know the beat, but he has his own process when he dances and his movements are beautiful. I have always watched him in awe and learnt a lot. He has also inspired me by sending me a lot of interesting videos. He is the one who introduced me to the French dancers Les Twins who are my dance idols. I have been following them for 10 years now. He showed me their videos and I got obsessed with them.  

He’s always inspired me to push my own self forward. We love dancing together and when we dance, there is no exchange of words, only movements. Somewhere, there is that synergy in our DNA that we don’t have to say anything. We just start swaying together. I hope we get to dance a lot more together, maybe in some film, if the script is good. 

My mom is a huge fan of Turkish dramas. She is obsessed with them. I think she has become half Turkish by now! (laughs) There’s a lot of interesting work coming out and being consumed universally. I have always been a lover of world cinema — more films than long format for me. There are a lot of times when I see something and I wish I had got a role or a film like that, but I am not particularly keen on adaptations or remakes. I am not averse to them, but I’m not drawn to them either. I would rather do something that’s original, than from text to screen. That way, you have more liberty to make it your own. 

Photo: Instagram/Ishan Khatter