Veteran actor Anupam Kher has landed himself a plum role in Chinese director Ang Lee's new film being shot in Shanghai right now but refused to talk about it because he fears somebody will steal the prestigious project from him.
"It's called, Lust, Caution. Lee's casting director spoke to Shirish Kunder (of Jaan-e-Mann fame) about my character. Shirish suggested my name. I sent Lee my show reel. A few days ago, we finalised the contract."
"I'm silent about this project because I've had many projects stolen away from under my nose. I've become superstitious," Anupam told IANS in an interview.
This has got to be the biggest international break for an Indian actor since Victor Banerjee in David Lean's A Passage To India.
One of Hollywood's most celebrated contemporary directors, Lee shot to fame with the esoteric Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon in 2000. He also did a highly acclaimed adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility and was last in the news for his controversial Oscar-winning gay film Brokeback Mountain.
For Anupam the length of the role is inconsequential. Is it a pivotal role?
Good question! quipped Anupam. "It is a substantial role. Even if Lee had asked me to do a walk-on part, I'd have happily done it. You don't ask certain filmmakers what they're offering you. This is my first visit to China and to have the chance to observe Lee on his home ground at work would be an honour.
"It's a fabulous script. I'm the only Indian actor in the film. And I'm playing an Indian. I'm thankful to Kunder for recommending me. I think they asked him because his wife Farah choreographed a Chinese film."
The first person Anupam called to share the good news was his mentor Mahesh Bhatt.
"Bhatt saab said it was an honour not just for me but the entire Indian film industry. At that moment, I felt so proud. From Bhatt saab's Saraansh to Ang Lee's Lust, Caution it's been quite a journey for me."
Anupam rues about being ignored at award functions. He said: "Every year I'm ignored at the Indian awards. Last year my performance in Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara went unnoticed. This year I'm sure Khosla Ka Ghosla will be ignored. Every time I'm disappointed at home I get some big recognition abroad."
Anupam's parting shot, "The chances of an Indian actor working in a Hollywood film to be shot in China are very rare. It's going to kill a lot of people back home. But Shanghai and Lee, here I come."
When asked Victor about Anupam's achievement, he said: "I'm very happy for Anupam. Also, insanely jealous."
"A very long time ago when I was 20 I saw a young actor perform a bit part in a play based on the Mahabharata. I was stunned by his ability. That, the same actor has now been cast by Lee comes as no surprise to me. He's brilliant and deserves all that he gets," said acclaimed director Sudhir Mishra.