At 52, he's busier than a bee. Besides his acting whirligig, he recently set up a branch of his acting academy in Chandigarh. Ahmedabad and London are next on the academy's map.
At 11 am, I'm at his Juhu acting academy stocked with an abundant collection of film books and DVDs. Over gingery nimbu paani, Anupam Kher holds forth:
News is that you've had a spat with Vidhu Vinod Chopra.
I wouldn't call it a spat. I was in South Africa. I got a call from a journalist asking me for my opinion on Eklavya as India's official entry to the Oscars. I said I hadn't seen the other movies which were being considered. But from whatever I'd heard about Chak De! India, it seemed to be the best possible choice.
After that, he made some distasteful comments in the press. That wasn't right on his part. I'm sure everyone is as close to his movies as he is to Eklavya. In any case, voicing one's opinions is allowed in a democracy. I did, so did he.
Does this mean an end to your near-two-decade-old friendship with him?
No, it doesn't. I still regard him as my friend. Such tiffs are common between friends. It's his call whether he wants to ever cast me in a film or not. It's a need-based industry, relations have to be handled with care, they are more work-related than personal.
<b1>Some stay, some wither away. If this had happened 10 years ago, I would have felt the pinch. I've surpassed that stage now. I'd like to work with my all my friends but if they don't approach me with a role, it doesn't hurt me any more.
How come you haven't been seen in most of the high-profile Yash Raj films?
My relations with the Yash Raj banner are very deep-rooted. If they have a role for me, they know I'm just a phone call away. For long, of all the Yash Raj films I've seen, there hasn't been one which has excited me.
There was a time when I appeared in almost every second film being made in Bombay. Today, I don't feel the need to be in too many films. I've more to do. My acting school is growing.
You did Yash Raj's
Laaga Chunari Mein Daagthough. Why did it bomb so badly?
I'd liked the role offered to me. I only act. Actors cannot analyse their own films for their no-show at the box-office.
One sees you more often in crossover projects than the Bombay ones.
I'm enjoying these crossover projects. My film with Ang Lee (
) was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Mr Bhatti on Chhuttiis looking good.
It's about a character who's a little like Mr Bean.. he takes himself too seriously. There are some more on their way too. They have been a rejuvenating experience.
When do you intend to direct your next film?
Not immediately. I've started a company, Karol Bagh Films, with Satish Kaushik. Our first film is
. After its release, Satish and I will direct one film each.
What's happening to
Meerabai Not Out?
It's ready. The producers wanted to release it during the World Cup. Unfortunately, India didn't even make it to the top eight. Now, I'm told the film will release in January. Let's see.
Apparently you were the first choice for the role of the Mahatma in
Gandhi My Father.
(Smiles) Yes, I was the first one to be approached. Then, the producer (Anil Kapoor) changed his mind.. you must ask him why.
Why on earth did you have to do
Victoria No 203and
Buddha Mar Gaya?
Ugh. Come on, don't be mean. I had a blast working with Om (Puri) in both the films. It's not as if I was the only actor in these films. There were other seasoned names too. It's sad that nothing could save these films.
I did Buddha Mar Gaya for Rahul Rawail. He's a friend.. he gave me my first commercial hit (Arjun). Imagine the plight of Rahul and Kamal Sadanah (producer of Victoria No 203). Humein to aur films milengi.. but these guys have been at the receiving end of all the flak.
Are you okay with remakes?
I'm fine with them..of course the original idea has to be updated with some amount of imagination.
What if Saaransh were to be remade?
It should be remade. And it has to be with me. (Laughs) Of course, now I'll have to apply less make-up.
Why haven't you gone back to television?
I am doing a show called Team India. It's about finding a genius mind, which represents India. I did Say Na Something to Anupam Uncle for a long time on Sab TV and then on Zee. Though the show had good TRPs, it was pulled off air. I still don't know why.
How would you rate the performance of your wife, Kirron Kher, in Om Shanti Om?
I haven't had the time to see the film.
What's happening with your son Sikander's debut in Woodstock Villa?
Please call up Sanjay Gupta and ask. That question is better answered by the producer than a father.