Photographer- Taras Taraporvala
Stylist- Divyak D’Souza
Assistant Stylists- Sana Khan & Shikha Tiwari
Make-up- Tanvi Chemburkar
Hairstylist- Flavien Heldt
All Jewellery- ODE Jewels (Ascend Rohank), Minerali, Outhouse, Misho & Isharya
All Shoes- Christian Louboutin & SKO
Location Courtesy – Neuma, Mumbai
Actor’s Agency – Yash Raj Films Talent
Wardrobe – Falguni Shane Peacock
In the world of cinema, where actors are made to shine like stars on the silver screen, Vaani Kapoor stands as a beacon of individuality and exquisiteness—be it through the choice of her films or her sartorial sense. An actor with a head-turning presence, her journey to stardom has been as remarkable as the roles she portrays. Much of her personality and the depth in her craft can be attributed to the way she was raised—a childhood steeped in exploration, thanks to her parents’ love for travel and the sense of empathy she imbibed courtesy the animal NGO her father ran. This empathy made her get to the heart of each role she played. And that shows.
Vaani Kapoor is not just an actor; she’s an avid traveller. Her parents instilled in her the importance of discovering the world, opening her eyes to new cultures, and embracing the beauty of diversity. These experiences that she gained from travelling became integral to her growth not only as an individual, but also as an artist. Today, Kapoor has evolved into an ardent traveller, one who absorbs the essence of each city she visits like a sponge, and in the process, incorporates the very best of her discoveries into her persona.
In our exclusive cover story, we delve into the life of Vaani Kapoor—a remarkable talent whose craft is enriched by her wanderlust, a thirst for knowledge, and a genuine connection with the world around her. We explore her favourite destinations, her memories of growing up in Delhi, her fondness for Mumbai, and her outlook on life, all while revealing the woman behind the roles she played, a traveller, and a soul constantly seeking inspiration from the world.
Q) You were born and raised in Delhi. What aspects of Delhi resonate the most with you? Tell us about some of your fond Delhi memories.
I’ve had a very unique childhood. I was literally in a house full of 80 to 100 dogs and you know, my father ran an NGO and we had dogs, two cats, two horses, two ducks, two monkeys, two possibly all sorts of pets that one can imagine. We used to stay in North Delhi, Gujranwala town, where my father used to run an NGO and back then, it was just a long place, like a big, you know, some acres of land where we just literally felt like living and growing up in farmland or something. Of course, eventually buildings came up in and around our house. We as kids were so compassionate and we loved animals—me, my sister, and the whole family. During our summer vacations, my parents would put up these campaigns where we would go for the polio drops’ drive, go to schools as well, and then get all the stray dogs and stray animals vaccinated and get other crucial medical formalities done. It just felt so pure and nice. I truly believe that being surrounded by animals and growing up around them can make you more compassionate as a person. And I just feel like that’s the purest and the happiest form of childhood I could have ever asked for. So I’m eternally grateful to my parents for giving us that. And yeah, I think Delhi, you know, it’s home. My family is there, my friends are there. And I have spent so many years there, so it’s going to be a home forever. Even though now I live in Mumbai, but yeah, I always feel like going to Delhi is like going home.
Q) What are some of the fondest memories of Delhi from your childhood days?
My parents used to take us to India Gate and we used to go there to eat ice cream and that was like a family ritual. My cousins would also join in. Also, Delhi food is the best, and we are a Punjabi family so we used to love our outings when it came to food. I was a pleasantly plump person back then, and I used to enjoy and gorge on yummy Punjabi food. My father is also extremely passionate about food. He says that no matter how sick he got, or even if he was in the hospital, he would want each of his meals to be rich and his favourites! He’s someone in my family who has never let anyone control his meals. So, he would often take us to places where he loved Chhole Bhature and more. There’s this market called Kamla Nagar. It was very close to my house and school, and we used to visit it often as kids. We would go to this delightful place for street food, enjoying dishes like Chhole Bhature. My father ensured that we developed a taste for such foods. When you think of Delhi, it’s about food, family, and friends.
Q) What were some of your favourite spots in Delhi during your graduation days?
I think this was after college, but I was obsessed with a place called the Big Chill in Delhi. That was my go-to spot. You could always find me there. The food there was just… I would always end up at the Big Chill. It was my comfort place. You know, Khan Market and Hauz Khas were also very popular back then. So there were places like Hauz Khas, Khan Market, Kamla Nagar, and there was this place very close to my house. I loved Chaat and used to binge on street food. So I used to go to this Golgappa corner in Model Town literally every week. Everything about Delhi, you know, whenever I’m talking about it, it somehow turns into a food conversation. (laughs)
Q) Apart from these, what were some of your fondest trips from your childhood?
We used to travel to the hills quite often during our summer vacations. You know how people from Mumbai tend to head to places like Goa, Lonavala, and Alibaug, while those from Delhi prefer going to the hills. We always headed to the hills, whether it was Shimla, Mussoorie, or Nainital. We visited these places a lot during our childhood, and it always felt surreal. Recently, I had a shoot in Rishikesh, and everything felt so surreal again. It brought back memories of my childhood. Living in Mumbai now, such trips are not that practical, but when we were kids, our parents used to take us on many road trips. We also frequently visited Jodhpur because my father had business there, so we did a lot of road travel. We even went to Moradabad because of his work. So, on weekends, my mother would pack our bags, and we’d set off on these road trips whenever we had a few days off.
Q) What was your first impression of Mumbai when you arrived there to pursue a career in the film industry? How do you feel about it now? And, what according to you, has changed your perception about it?
You know, Mumbai has always held a special place in my life, and I still believe it’s pretty cool. I feel a sense of independence here that I didn’t experience while growing up in Delhi. My parents were quite protective, and the culture in Delhi emphasised that kids shouldn’t live away from their parents; you’re always close to home, in a way. So, the freedom I’ve found here is something I like. In Mumbai, everyone doesn’t know every detail of your life, like it often happens in Delhi, where neighbours, cousins, and everyone seem to be deeply involved in each other’s affairs. Mumbai offers a lot of independence and yet feels much safer. I’ve been living here all by myself, and I doubt my parents would have had the same confidence (of letting me live alone) if it were any other city. Feeling safe and independent is crucial for a girl working and living on her own, and Mumbai provides that comfort. The culture here allows people to mind their own business and do their own thing. I like my space and respect other people’s boundaries. Fortunately, I’ve made some wonderful connections and good friends here. The only downside is the occasional fishy smell, which I’ve gotten used to. (laughs) When my family visits and asks, ‘Why does it smell like dead fish?’ I can’t smell it anymore. My system seems to have adapted and become immune to it. I genuinely feel at home here.
Q) Of all the places you’ve lived in, any particular city that is close to your heart? What makes this place unique?
You know, staying in a certain city always leads to personal evolution; it transforms you in various ways. As artists, we often embark on adventures in different cities. I have a special love for Rajasthan. I even did my internship in Jaipur. I genuinely adore Rajasthan; it’s incredibly beautiful, well-maintained, and culturally rich. There’s a profound sense of peace I experience there..
I must also mention Paris for Befikre. It kind of rewired me as a person because I portrayed a character born and raised in Paris. To truly feel that sense of being a local, I spent a lot of time there, observing people and their way of life. It helped me embrace new ideas, people, and the local culture. It’s incredibly exciting and intriguing to be in such diverse cities.
Q) Can you share a travel experience that completely transformed your perspective on life or opened your mind to new possibilities?
I believe that, no matter which city I’ve been to, each one has been essential for my personal evolution. There are things that you subliminally absorb from a city, even without being consciously aware of it. You’re in a place, absorbing its essence effortlessly. I feel it’s true everywhere and of everyone.
I loved shooting for my first film in Jaipur, and I also adore Chandigarh. It was serene, quiet, clean, and green, with lush surroundings. I genuinely enjoyed all these cities. Also, I have a fondness for Amsterdam because my sister lives there. I like European culture and people from places like Amsterdam. They have their differences, yet there’s something wonderfully common among them all.
Q) Can you share a memorable encounter with a local person or community during your travels that left a lasting impact on you?
I made friends during Befikre. Half of the unit consisted of locals from Paris, and I made some truly long-lasting friendships. I’m still in touch with them. There’s a girl who was an actor in Paris, and I used to go watch theatre with her. We attended Yoga classes and Pilates sessions together in Paris. Over time, they have become my close friends, and I’m proud that we’re still in touch and connected.
Q) How do you approach travel planning to ensure a well-rounded, authentic experience, while also allowing room for spontaneity?
I like to gather suggestions from people who travel more frequently than I do. So, I often end up reaching out to Bharat Rawail. He used to work with Yash Raj Films (YRF), and now he has an impressive body of work. I’ve grown close to both him and his brother, Shiv Rawail, who is currently directing at YRF. They have travelled extensively and have in-depth knowledge of where to go. I rely on them for restaurant recommendations, a list of places to visit, and things to do. So, I do appreciate receiving recommendations, which help me create a loose itinerary for my trips. I’m not rigid; I remain flexible with my plans. However, I like to have a sense of what’s the best to experience in that place. I don’t want to miss anything.
Q) Which city did you visit recently? What did you love the most about it?
It’s the hills; they’re so peaceful. When you’re there, you breathe in fresh air, and I believe the oxygen levels in your body really increases, reaching your brain. It’s essential for your mental and emotional well-being. These beautiful places are so serene and clean, and the people are so innocent and naive. When you’re travelling up in the hills, you encounter locals who are really nice and helpful in getting you acquainted with the place, food and culture.
Q) How does travelling, in general, inspire you? How does travel impact you as an artist?
It’s the people, their culture, and their way of life that also shape us as artists. We become more accepting of new ideas and open to making connections with new people. We learn how they live, think, from their body language to their eating habits, their conversations, their clothing, and more. These small details make so much of a difference. It’s very important for artists, who want to grow, learn, and evolve, to travel. I genuinely believe that travel is essential for all of us. It helps us develop empathy and a deeper understanding of others. These experiences cultivate our understanding of how others see life, what their perception, what their opinions, and what their outlook towards life is.
Q) Your happiest and most memorable trip till date?
I can’t pick just one favourite place I travelled to because I genuinely believe that every time I travel, I come back feeling refreshed. There’s something about travelling that allows you to rewire your brain and detach from your present routine. It’s about going somewhere and returning feeling recharged. Each time I explore a new destination, my entire outlook changes, and my overall mental well-being also improves. This is crucial because in our busy lives, where we might be constantly tiring ourselves out with work or other commitments–such as in my case as an actor we are shooting for long hours, often between 12 to 18 hours a day, sometimes back-to-back without breaks–then you do need that change in the scenery and the place just to feel more relaxed, refreshed and recharged.
Q) Among all the places that you’ve travelled to, which one do you think is underrated and deserves more attention from travellers?
I believe Paris is widely known to everyone. Amsterdam is also well-known. Rajasthan, I think, is one of the most popular tourist destinations within India. Many people love travelling to Rajasthan. Similarly, the hills also attract tourists; I often see a lot of tourists in hilly areas.
Q) What destinations are on your travel bucket list?
I really want to visit Japan and South Africa. I’d also love to go to Masai Mara in Kenya. I feel like it’s the best when you get to connect with nature and animals, and I’m very much into that vibe. Maybe Iceland, as well. I also want to see more of the Himalayas, and exploring the hillsides is something I’m definitely interested in. That, for me, will be an empowering experience. I really want to go there.
Q) Do you remember your first solo trip? Any tips for solo female travellers?
I actually once went to New York, and I was utterly lost. It was my first solo trip. I remember spending my first day in the hotel because I didn’t know where to go or what to do since I was being very spontaneous. I had been in Florida for work and then decided to take off to New York without knowing anything over there. Eventually, I reached out to my friends, asking them to tell me where to go because I was feeling super lost. My first days are not always the best, especially in a place like New York. However, I slowly got accustomed to it and started figuring things out. That’s when I fell in love with New York.
Tips, I mean, don’t travel like I do. (laughs) I travel with my entire house in my suitcase. I practically carry everything in my bag, and I’m always paying for extra baggage. That’s not the smartest thing to do. Travel light because you’ll end up buying something or the other anyway. And yes, I always have excess baggage with me. My sister constantly scolds me because she’s like, ‘Why can’t you ever travel light?’ She’s a light traveller and knows how to pack her suitcase. I hate packing my own bags, but I have to. So, just get smart with it. Use those vacuum bags to store all your clothes in and vacuum-seal them to create more space in your bags.
Q) Your top 5 must-packs when travelling.
Make sure to carry your chargers and multi-plug adapters. There are times in hotels when they don’t have them, and then you find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere without an adapter or charger. I think it’s essential to always keep your electronics gadgets and chargers with you. I also always like to carry comfortable shoes because I tend to walk a lot when I’m travelling. I love walking. So, bring a comfortable pair of sneakers or shoes–whatever suits you. Another thing is ensuring that my toiletries are well-stocked. I hate running out of them while travelling. I like to have everything I need, such as shampoo, a toothbrush, and more. Don’t forget your Forex cards and other cards that you may need. For longer trips, I like to keep my gym wear with me. I can live in a white t-shirt, a black t-shirt, and blue jeans; I’m that kind of person. If you plan to dine in fancy restaurants, be sure to bring a nice pair of heels and a formal dress because some restaurants have dress codes that require you to dress up.
Q) How do you stay fit during travel? Are you mindful about what you eat or do you indulge in the cuisines available?
Sometimes, I travel for just a day or a maximum of two for a shoot to some city or place and it can get tiring at times to work out. There are moments when I’m shooting for around 12 hours and I’m tired or not feeling okay, then I become mindful of what I’m eating. But I never starve. I think it’s essential to maintain a consistent eating schedule. So, my breakfast, lunch, and dinner timings are more or less fixed. That way, I don’t falter from my meal timings.
Q) How necessary is conscious (eco-friendly) travelling in today’s time? What sustainable practices do you follow while travelling?
I feel like the locals are extremely conscious of their well-being and the environment because they live there. That’s one important reason why travellers too should be responsible and conserve the environment. You can always be mindful of how you travel; for instance, carpooling or using bikes is an option. Personally, I love walking—it’s something I truly enjoy. So, these are some ways to preserve natural areas and avoid littering. Be conscious of not polluting or leaving waste anywhere. It’s not just about travel; it can become a part of your lifestyle. No matter where you are in the world, you can practise this because it’ll be ingrained in you as an individual.
Q) What do you like to read or watch when on a long flight?
I do carry books with me. I also bring my iPad because, even on longer flights, it’s not a problem. I love sitting and watching films back-to-back, going through the in-flight library of films and shows. I don’t like to waste time sleeping. You’ll always find me with enough to keep myself busy and entertained.
Q) How does the culture of these places you’ve visited influence you? What are the three things that define the essence of a city?
People, for sure, are number one. The essence of a place, you know, is defined by its people and its architecture. I love how houses look different in various countries and cities. In Europe, for instance, you’ll find a lot of structured and diverse architectural styles, each enriched with its own culture and history. Every country has a fascinating history that I love to learn about. I enjoy observing the houses, the people, and their way of life. It gives me a sense of the history, culture, and how people have cultivated their lifestyles over many decades. It’s truly inspiring and exciting to discover.
The food is another aspect I find interesting. Every place offers a different culinary experience. When I travel to Europe, whether it’s Amsterdam, Paris, or other places, there’s a variety of cuisine to explore. For example, in Italy, I was thrilled to eat pasta every day initially, but eventually, I started craving something familiar, like Dal Chawal. Each country has its unique flavours. Some prefer milder, bland food, while others, like India, offer spicy delicacies that I absolutely love. The spicier it is, the tastier it is for me. Food plays a significant role in shaping who we are, our lifestyles, and our habits. I enjoy understanding and exploring culinary culture.
Moreover, I appreciate how certain cities and countries are so diverse, with people from all walks of life blending in. Witnessing all of this while travelling is what makes it a special experience.
Q) What’s the best way to pamper yourself on a vacation?
I believe that a vacation in itself is a form of pampering. It’s about going out and exploring new places. Personally, I don’t enjoy hanging around at spas; I prefer to be out there, actively exploring. I absolutely love the art of exploration. I don’t want to waste a single moment; every moment counts. Of course, you can dedicate one day to relaxation and physical recharge. However, I feel that, in general, one should explore the place one is visiting. I enjoy sitting in small cafes for hours, just observing passersby. I could easily spend two or three hours in a cafe, watching people. It may sound weird or even creepy, but I like observing people, even when they’re eating. In my mind I’m always wondering, ‘why would that person order something’, or think ‘So this one is health conscious. This one is vegan. This one is not vegan. This one is eating a lot or not eating a lot.’ (laughs) It’s fascinating to observe. Strangely, I enjoy watching others eat, even at my house. I love it when people come over and want to eat, and I enjoy serving food. Maybe it’s a Punjabi thing in me; my family has a tradition of enjoying food and sharing it with others. My father used to love feeding everyone, and I guess I’ve inherited that love for feeding people.