Trends may whoosh in and out but he remains Gibraltar-firm. As fanatical about selecting his projects as he is about gymming now-a-days, he pops up with a surprise hit (No Entry) and quietly plays the proud dad of Sonam who’s been whizzing off to the studios for her debut movie. And now, he’s readying his first independent film production, Gandhi, My Father, for worldwide release on August 3.
Okay, so today his moustache has this harpoon-like sharpness.. it’s fashioned for a role, he tugs at it, hardly noticing the acacia bush I’ve grown, beneath the nostrils, since the last time we met.. a year ago. All he says is, “You’re looking kind of funny.. ekdum dignified and all. What did you do to yourself ?” I’m not telling.
To interview Anil Kapoor is either very easy or very difficult. He talks with utter spontaneity.. but at times applies brakes, “What!What am I saying?” Gratifyingly, he does that with self-deprecating humour. Unlike most showtown denizens, he has that rare ability of laughing at himself. Okay, enough do-wah-deedie-deedie ..over to the kick-off q:
Why has it taken so long for you to get Gandhi my Father on the road?
It hasn’t taken long at all.. it took less than six months to shoot. It had to be released at the right time.. the nature of the film is such. Then there were the technicalities like devising the marketing strategy.. I didn’t want to do a rush job. Also after Lage Raho Munnabhai last year.. a gap was essential.
<b1>How come you’ve taken on a serious theme for your first project as an independent producer? With your brother (BoneyKapoor) you’ve done movies like Judaai and No Entry.
I’ve always been in both the worlds.. the light and the serious. I’ve done serious films like MS Sathyu’s Kahan Kahan se Guzar Gaya, Mani Ratnam’s Pallavi Ana, K Vishwanathan’s Eeshwar, Priyadarshan’s Virasat .. actually (producers) Mushir- Riaz’s Virasat .. they made so many quality films but no one has given them their due credit.
When I look back, I’m proud that Priyadarshan became Priyadarshan with Virasat .. and Vidhu Vinod Chopra came into the forefront with Parinda.
Are you saying that you have a split personality of sorts?
Split personality sounds cracked! I don’t know if I can claim to be an all-rounder but if there have been Rakhwala and No Entry on the one hand, there have been Lamhe and My Wife’s Murder on the other. If I connect to a script at the gut level, I just do it.. risks don’t matter.
Once Rajnikant asked me how I can do action, comedy and social dramas.. how is it possible for an actor to do different things? I don’t have an answer for that really.. except that perhaps I stretch myself, take risks and reinvent myself. Nayak may not have been liked by the critics but it brought back its money and more.. I’m still asked about Nayak wherever I go.
Since you’re so film-obsessed, what happens to your family?
I balance my work and family life. I wear various hats—of an actor, producer, husband and the father of two daughters and a son on the threshold of adulthood. Sonam’s had her share of crushes, right now there’s no boyfriend in her life..Harshvardhan is the shy one, he hides his girlfriend.
Isn’t Sonam being approached for more movies after
I think the sanctity of
should be maintained. A platform has been given to my daughter.. she can’t take off on a hysterical signing spree. Sanjay Leela Bhansali deserves that much respect..we have to hang on.
Mr Bhansali is rumoured to be quite a terror on the sets.
That’s his style, he works best when he’s like that. He started off his career with me, he was assistant director on Parinda ..with me he was very different.
Imagine if you had to choose between attending the premiere of Gandhi, My Father and Saawariya on the same day.
Why can’t I go to both the premieres?
No,we’re imagining.. you have to choose.
Then Saawariya . I would surely prioritise my child.
Your wife (Sunita) stays away from film matters.. with Sonam in the movies, how’s she faring?
( Laughs ) Sunita’s always had her indendence and individuality. She has protected the family from slipping into the fantasy world. She’s not used to the film atmosphere. Initially when she started going to sets with Sonam, she was shaken up completely.. now she’s fine.
<b3>You’ve often played the cheating husband.. as in No Entry, Gharwalli Baharwalli..
Stop! ( Laughing) Sunita won’t like that.. but seriously, I’ve been liked most of all in the role of the tapori. Wherever I go, they still shout, “Jhakaas!”, I’m still identified with Ram Lakhan and the Munna of Tezaab.
Why has it taken 16 years for Yash Chopra and you to work together again after Lamhe?
I wasn’t comfortable with some roles offered to me earlier.. like, say, Parampara . Then recently Adi (AdityaChopra) spoke to me that a certain role had been written with me in mind.. and if I agreed, they’d go ahead with the film.
Tashan? Is your hair styled the way it is for that movie?
Yeah..my hair’s going all over the place to suit my various roles. Because of the illness of Saif Ali Khan, schedules have gone a bit haywire. I’m playing an Urdu professor in Subhash Ghai’s Black and White, a cop in Abbas-Mustan’s Race .. of course I can’t tell you what I’m playing in Tashan.
At the end of the year, you’ll turn 50.. how will you keep re-inventing yourself?
I’ll keep re-inventing myself till my dying day.. till I can stand on my feet.. unless I decide to call it a day at 82 like Paul Newman has.. I’ve always tried never to give an overdose of myself. I haven’t endorsed any products, I go on concert tours only once in four to five years..
Farah Khan has often said that you’re the world’s worst dancer.
Which is why she asked me to do Om Shanti Om! Fortunately, I was out of town.
Which of your film would you never see again?
Heer Ranjah , Aap ke Saath and Mr Azad.
Which do you consider your best performances?
Mr India, Virasat, Ram Lakhan and Lamhe.
Whom would you rather act with today —Madhuri Dixit or Sridevi?
Madhuri. Sridevi’s my sister-in-law yaar .. it would be difficult to do the romantic scenes.. I’m a professional actor.. I could do them.. but..
How come Akshaye Khanna and you are thick as thieves now? There was no bonding during the days of Taal.
(Laughs) I’ve never met a more honest person than Akshaye. About those Taal days, he says he was on his own trip, he didn’t know what he was doing there. I can relate to Akshaye.. and let me tell you, he was born to play Harilal in Gandhi my Father.
Okay, just an off-key question.What if Rakhi Sawant invited you to dinner?
Before going, I’d ask her what’s on the menu.