We haven’t seen a lot of Vaani Kapoor, since her short stint in YRF’s Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff action caper, War, last year. Her last full-fledged role was in Befikre (2016), opposite Ranveer Singh, which garnered mostly negative reviews. And considering the coronavirus pandemic has delayed the shoots of most impending Bollywood movies, her next big outing, YRF’s Shamshera, starring Ranbir Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt, has had its release pushed. Her other film, Bell Bottom, opposite Akshay Kumar has just began shooting abroad. Looks like Vaani’s got a busy schedule. But according to her, she’d definitely make some ‘space’ to play a role like that of deceased astronaut Kalpana Chawla in a biopic.
Biopics have been all the rage in the movie business lately, the most recent being Anu Menon’s Shakuntala Devi biopic starring Vidya Balan as the math genius who came to be known as the Human Computer. Iranian director Marjane Satrapi also offered up a biopic on Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, Radioactive, starring the amazing Rosamund Pike. And of course, we’re all set to watch a biopic on the Indian Air Force’s first female combat pilot, Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, starring Janhvi Kapoor. Clearly, we’d love to see some more illustrious women being immortalised on the big screen with biopics about them, and Indian-American astronaut Kalpana Chawla definitely has an inspiring life story.
Since childhood Kalpana Chawla was fascinated by airplanes. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab, post which she got a Masters in Aerospace Engineering from Arlington’s University of Texas. After joining the NASA Astronaut Corps in 1995, she was selected for her first flight to space in 1996. During her second flight to space, Chawla was one of the seven NASA crew members who perished in the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster in 2003. She was the first Indian woman to go into space and is revered as a national hero, with several educational institutions, streets and programmes named after her. She was also posthumously awarded America’s Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
Vaani Kapoor was quoted talking about how it would be an honour to reprise a hero and strong female role model like the late Kalpana Chawla on screen.
“Kalpana Chawla is a huge role model for women around the world and anyone who has ever dreamt of being an astronaut. She’s an inspiration and her story is definitely the one to be celebrated as well as told. I would really want to play her on screen it’ll be an absolute honour.”
Vaani is barely a few films old, and most of them have been YRF releases that haven’t really done all that well on the box office, she hasn’t really managed to make an impact on the audience or critics’ psyche just yet. Although, it could be argued that she hasn’t really been given a role where she can flex those acting muscles hard and show us what she’s got. Apart from her debut in Shuddh Desi Romance, in a small role opposite the late Sushant Singh Rajput, Vaani’s roles have mostly been glamourous and quite honestly, forgettable. But she seems to have made the best of what has come her way and is glad that she got to experiment so much with her roles.
“I’ve tried to pick the best from what came my way and it feels amazing to have worked with great names in the industry. I have got opportunities for roles so distinctive. It’s about connecting to a story and then to the character,” she told The Tribune.
It remains to be seen if Vaani Kapoor manages to catch the audience and critics’ fancy in Shamshera and Bell Bottom, which could pave a way for her to land her dream role, that of playing Kalpana Chawla. After all, isn’t Janhvi Kapoor just one-film-old and a playing national hero? Are the Bollywood filmmakers listening?
In the meantime, the sun is definitely shining bright on Vaani’s career, as she has been roped in as the female lead for Abhishek Kapoor’s next, which will have Ayushmann Khurrana play a cross-functional athlete. Speaking about the news, Vaani said, “It’s a lovely heart rendering film. I have always wanted to work with Abhishek Kapoor, being so inspired by his films, this feels like an amazing opportunity to be part of his vision. Ayushmann is one of the most talented actors of our generation and I’m only thrilled about our first film together to be this beautiful love story.”