Anil Kapoor: back in the news

Updated on Feb 06, 2008 03:54 PM IST
He's been doing comedy, dramedy and he's all over television with the promos of Black and White and Race. Anil Kapoor speaks to Khalid Mohamed.
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Hindustan Times | ByKhalid Mohamed, Mumbai

Back in the news, he's been doing comedy, dramedy and is shooting for Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire. And he's on the telly waves with the promos of Subhash Ghai's about-to-be-released Black and White. That you know.

But bet you weren't aware that besides his daughter Sonam, his other kids Rhea and Harshvardhan are also planning movie careers. Now is that an entire film khandaan in the making? Anil Kapoor in a lunchtime conversation with Khalid Mohamed

If there's one movie personality I can bully, that has to be AK. In the mood for pizza, I suggest an Italian resto-chilliflakes. Then overtaken by a craving for ghar ka khaana, I show up at his Juhu villa, demanding noon service.

"Yes yes yes yes yes," he looks at me, then yells out to invisible chefs in the kitchen "Murghi vurghi, daal vaal, sabzi vabzi, sab tayyar karo." And he continues at a louder pitch, "Nahin to apna guest band bajaa dega."

H a, ha, ha, not that I know how to bajao a band or even jam with a guitar like Saif Ali Khan. I merely wah-wah the Anjolie Ela Menon painting in the drawing room, which is obviously an acquisition by AK's wife Sunita.

"She has taste," I mumble. Oof, I've said it. Too late.. he's already sharp with the sentence, "You bet.. that's why she married me."

There are certain things about Anil Kapoor that will never change, just like his full-throttle laughter and frequent switches from angrezi to hingrezi.

In fact, one of his most-oft used phrases Kya bolta tu? was coined years before it was linked to Khandala. And of course, he still has a boyish enthusiasm for everything.. like he'll run all over the house to locate a particularly wowee photo of daughter Sonam on a magazine cover.

Next: he wonders.. achha kya bolta tu? Bolta main..

Tell me honestly, are you discouraged or encouraged after making an offmainstream movie like Gandhi my Father?
You should be the last person to ask me that. I feel super.. absolutely super that I started off as an independent producer with such a film.

Weren't you discouraged when it wasn't chosen to represent India at the Oscars?
I'd be lying if I said no. The federation guys told me that they didn't select it because it had some dialogue in English. Otherwise it would have been their first choice. I felt that was some kind of weak consolation.

See everyone involved with the film has benefited from it, it has built a brand equity for my production company. (Director) Feroz Khan and Akshaye Khanna have got tremendous praise. Now, it all depends on how I take the positive response forward.

So how are you taking your film company forward?

Right now, we're absolutely mainstream with a comedy,


, directed by Neeraj Vohra. Then a start-to-finish project is being planned for May. As an actor, I have Subhashji's (Ghai)

Black and White

coming up. I'm looking at quite a few scripts.

Wasn't your role of a TV anchor in

Slumdog Millionaire

first offered to Shah Rukh Khan?

I'm not aware of that.

But the names Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan are in the script's dialogue.. so how could they have done the role?

I was approached to play the host of a TV programme on the lines of

Kaun Banega Crorepati


Who Wants to be a Millionaire


The references given to me by Danny (Boyle) for the role are Al Pacino in Scarface and Robert de Niro in King of Comedy. We had extensive workshops, I'll have certain streaks of those characters throughout the film.

Aha, you're veering towards international cinema.. a male Aishwarya Rai, what!
(Unamused) Never! I have so much more to learn, whether it's here or anywhere. Danny chose to cast me after seeing Taal and Virasat. Have you seen his films?

Yes, yes, yes, of course.. Trainspotting and TheBeach. I still have to see his 20 Days After.Have you got yourself an agent abroad?
(Looking at me as if I'm a troublemaker) Not yet.

Shekhar Kapur is back in town.. have you been discussing any projects with him?
We've been talking..he's been very impressed by Sonam's work. (Eyes crinkle happily) Shekhar doesn't seem to be interested in me any more.

Do you get upset by the gossip circulated about Sonam?
Since I know it's not true, how can I get upset? But I think your lady.. that Honey is going berserk. She's insensitive.

How do you react to rumours linking Sonam with Ranbir Kapoor?
How do I react? Ask her.. she'll give you an answer. She's sensible, smart. I asked her casually about what was being written and she replied, "Nothing of the sort." I prefer to believe her and not Honey.

What's your 18-year-old son Harshvardhan up to?
He's a Scorpio, very secretive, you never know what he's doing. What I do know is that he's learning cinematography.. and he also wants to do screenplay writing.

And your 19-year-old daughter Rhea?
She's in New York, doing a two year course at the NYU. She wants to study the entire spectrum of entertainment.. writing, direction, the works. She's especially interested in TV. In fact, she surprised me one day, when she said she wants to be a stand-up comedian. !!!?? Yeah, can you imagine? She'd love to do a talk show, a reality show of her own some day.. a kind of a combo of Oprah Winfrey and Eddie Murphy.

Rhea's a fun person.. and the time is right for her to specialise in such a field.. globally we're happening.. everyone wants to come to India.

All my three kids are talented writers.. Sonam has written quite a few stories.. something which I could never do. I can't even write half a sentence.

Seems there's a film factory coming up right there.. how does Sunita react to the cinema boom in the house?


Kya bolta tu

? She's going mad, she says she's ageing. I swear she's threatening to take


and live in an


. The silver lining is that when she's with Sonam for her shoots, Sunita gets time to read.

What do your kids think of you as an actor?

They want me to do different roles, they want me to do only sensible movies.

Oh ho, so what did they say about



Sonam liked it. Rhea and Harsh didn't.

Is there any movie of yours that you didn't let them see?

(Laughs) Yeah..



Okay, tell me how has Sunita reacted to rumours about you over the years?

Nothing.. nothing.. there's been nothing exciting yaar.

Madhuri Dixit


Some years ago, I would have said, "I wish those rumours were true." But now she's married, a mother, a Padmashree.. pass pass..

aur kuchh


Yes.. how come you haven't signed up for any multi-crore corporate deals?

I don't believe in them. The corporate companies are still learning.. they want to adopt the Hollywood structure.. they are educating themselves. So, I'm not going through that route.. okay? Enough bak-bak now..

khaana lagao


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