Baby was an instant success. Naam Shabana is showing promise. And Anupam Kher, who played the doom-and-gloom Shuklaji in both the films, has a suggestion to make — why not make Naam Shukla next. The man is a wizard with a computer in both the films but that is not why Anupam wants a full-fledged film on Shukla. His reasons are very different and very hilarious. “Naam Shabana is one of a kind film, which has never been attempted before. A character from a film (Baby) being transformed into a full-fledged commercial film, this gives me an optimistic hope that one day they will also make Naam Shukla. I would like to know from Neeraj (Pandey) why Shukla wears a wig,” Anupam Kher says with a smile.
The 61-year-old says that Naam Shabana is an exciting concept and hopes it inspires other filmmakers to experiment with their films, “Neeraj is a fine writer. The script is very important. I’m sure it will do really well. We do compare films with Hollywood and they are our benchmark but I think we have our own take on films. We hope this film encourages people to explore more of such concepts.”
Speaking about the kind of spy he would like to play, the actor rues how the Hindi film industry does not have a legendary detective figure like Sherlock Holmes or James Bond. He said, “I would make a funny spy film like Pink Panther. Such characters are strongly etched in my mind. As a schoolboy, I used to read a lot of Hindi detective novels like Ved Prakash Sharma, Colonel Ranjit and many others. In terms of English, I would read all the commercial writers. But whatever I have seen of Pink Panther, that would be interesting to portray.”
In terms of spy movies, Anupam feels Bollywood has a lot of catching up to do. “My character in Naam Shabana is a technical agent who gets things done through the computer and can easily get information by cracking some codes. However, we have to agree that our assumption of a detective is somebody who follows someone or tries to solve a mystery, you know we have strong James Bond kind of association. Real detectives are not so fascinating, they are very normal people. In all the films we are talking about, detectives are so noticeable, usually, it’s the opposite way. In Sherlock Holmes, you spot the detectives from a mile away. These are celebrated detectives. But those who work with agencies like RAW, FBI and all, they can mix with the crowd whenever they want. We (Indian film industry) don’t have a legendary detective figure except for Byomkeysh Bakshi. In India, this sphere is not yet explored properly. There are no original heroes. We don’t have a James Bond kind character yet. Maybe in the future, we will.”
Naam Shabana is also special because, despite such supportive strong characters, it is Taapsee who leads the film. Anupam Kher feels it has a lot to do with the opportunity that has come her way. “If Neeraj wouldn’t have thought to make the film, this wouldn’t have happened. There are films like Kahaani, Mardaani and all, in the eighties and nineties, Madhur and Sridevi portrayed so many women-driven films… these films were always being made but the ratio has always been comparatively very low. Strong women have always got strong roles,” he continues adding how CBFC’s ban on women-centric films is purely unfortunate. “There are many issues which shouldn’t happen. But why to look at negative? Look at where women are today. Women are in front making our country proud. They are doing amazing work. But to say that it (ban on women-centric film) is happening only in India is not true. It has a lot to do with the society. I am being optimistic and trying to change rather than pointing at the problem.”
Kher also voiced his opinion on Padmavati row, “The violence is sad. But also, we should not give these people the mileage they are being given because somewhere we have to understand that the attention is making them excited and giving them power that they can do whatever they want.”