David O Russel’s Silver Lining Playbook (2012), starring Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Anupam Kher, bagged the People’s Choice Award at the recent Toronto International Film Festival. “It’s unbelievable. This could be an Oscar probable,” says Kher, who walked the red carpet with the Hollywood A-listers and saw the film for the first time. “My role has an interesting graph, and got a lot of laughs. It’s perhaps the first time an Indian actor in a mainstream Hollywood film doesn’t have an Indian background. Yet, I was representing India at TIFF; it was a proud moment.”
The film is about a teacher (played by Cooper) who, after eight months in a mental institution, moves in with his parents, tries to reconcile with his ex-wife and draws comfort from a neighbour who has problems of her own. Kher plays his psychiatrist.
“We have four major scenes together, and David planned to shoot them over four days. But encouraged by how well the first scene went, he canned them all on one day. It gave me the jitters, but when the whole unit started clapping, there was a rush of relief. In one of the scenes, I made a slightly high Bradley say, ‘Ganpati Bappa Moriya’ thrice. It’ll be in the prints that come to India,” promises Kher.
He says he forgot about the 400-odd movies he’d done back home, and would lock myself in his hotel room and go over his scenes. “The effort paid off when Robert De Niro told me he couldn’t imagine any other actor playing Dr Patel. I presented him with a Ganpati idol and he promised to come to India,” smiles Anupam. “There’s a photograph where all of us are looking at the camera, and De Niro (is looking) at me. I’m going to get that picture framed.”