Anil Kapoor, who recently turned 50, has many reasons to be happy. His American television series 24 is set to premiere in New York on January 14 and his presence in the series has been extended from 10 to 16 episodes.
"Initially, I was under contract for just 10 episodes. Then seeing the way my role developed, they decided to have me in 16 episodes. I must say I was as happy with the whole experience as I was with Slumdog Millionaire," Anil said confirming the news.
The versatile actor, who turned 50 on December 24 last year, agrees 2009 has been a phenomenal year for him.
"And now 2010 starts for me with the premiere of my television series 24 on January 14. I'm flying down to New York on January 12 for the premiere. In fact, all through the shooting of the series I've been flying in and out of India and the US." he said.
"At one point, I thought I wouldn't be able to do Anees Bazmi's No Problem because I was committed to do 24. I even spoke to Mr. (Amitabh) Bachchan about my role. Finally, I did manage both, thanks to Anees' co-operation. But I must say doing 24 and No Problem side by side was quite a cultural and continental shuffle," he said.
Anil plays a Middle Eastern character in 24. "I'm now waiting to see how audiences react to it. I've always believed in doing all kinds of work. Just like my friend A.R. Rahman who scores music for Shankar and Mani Ratnam, I've also done Eeshwar and Rakhwala side by side. I think variety is a very strong incentive for growth," he said.
Anil recalls how a lot of people advised him against doing an American television series. "I was also advised not to do Slumdog Millionaire. I took it up because my wife and kids were in favour. Can you imagine how I'd feel right now if I had turned it down? If I see 2009 as the best year of my life, it's partly because of Slumdog," said Anil.
"Then, of course, there was Aisha my two daughters' gift to me. Yes, that's how I see it. It isn't my gift to them, but their gift to me. While Sonam plays the lead, Rhea is producing Aisha. I'm proud of both of them."
He is now ready to take on his third international project. "I am very clear that I won't play Indian characters in international projects unless they're really special. I won't do the stereotypical Indian characters in American films. I've told my agent to seek out parts that are not culture-specific but have character."
Another project with Danny Boyle after Slumdog Millionaire is not ruled out. "Yes, Danny has gone on record to say we're working together and we will. At the moment I'm not signing anything new until I'm sure of what to do next."
Anil feels a strong support system at home and at work is the key to his successful journey as an actor.
"I hope my children have imbibed the values that I grew up with. I'm very proud of my three children. They are all doing well for themselves. My son Harshvardhan is enjoying his student days in the US, just like I did at his age, though not abroad like him."