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Post Race 2,Shootout At Wadala Anil Kapoor readies to change shift gears

I shifted gears at the right time,didn't give other people a chance to do it for me,says Anil Kapoor in an exclusive interview with Screen India's editor-in-chief Priyanka Sinha Jha.

Written by Priyanka Sinha Jha | Mumbai | Published: June 14, 2013 12:01 pm

One of the reasons (for never disappearing from the silver screen) is that I shifted gears at the right time. I didn’t give other people a chance to change the gears for me. For me it’s about consistently being driven by hard work,no matter which phase of my career I was in

I have usually opted for two hero projects. You have to be sensible and go beyond the superficial kind of things. There is no point trying to fit into parts that you have outgrown. I have seen enough people torture themselves in doing so,

much to their own detriment

All three (Sonam,Rhea and Harshvardhan) are now part of show business,but their journeys will be different. Fact of the matter is that you have to work hard. Despite your talent,you may or may not succeed because luck plays a huge role. Everyone has to go through ups and downs

Anil Kapoor is an actor of many parts — comic,romantic,action hero and occasionally,an anti-hero too. And even today Kapoor,who began his innings as an actor in 1978,shows no sign of slowing down. After two multi-starrer hits this year — Race 2 and Shootout At Wadala,there are a clutch of projects that suggest that the audience will be seeing more of him — a film opposite former leading lady Tabu in a film titled Sharmaji Ka Atom Bomb,a sequel to Welcome and most likely Race 3,if it were to be made.

But the most talked about role the actor is essaying this season would have to be of Jay Singh Rathore,who heads a special intelligence unit to counter terrorism in the Indian adaptation of 24,a popular American television series that he is co-producing with Abhinay Deo,ad film-maker and director (he is also helming the series).

Quite a few well recognized names like Deo,Anupam Kher,Mandira Bedi,Tisca Chopra and writer-director Rensil D’Silva have been roped in for the series,a first of its kind adaptation on an Indian GEC. The last such attempt on Indian television was Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin,an adaptation of Ugly Betty,a far cry from the thriller zone that 24 is aiming for.

Kapoor admits he is nervous. “Mujhe hi sabse zyada dande padenge,” he says with that famous crinkling of the eyes-smile. But it’s evident that he is far from daunted. After all,pulling off the unexpected has been his forte since the very outset and his recent international foray — as Omar Hassan,President of Islamic Republic of Kamistan (IRK) in the original 24,and playing the game show host in Danny Boyle’s Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire or an Indian playboy tycoon in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol — are recent examples of the same.

At 50 something,Kapoor could easily pass off as an actor in his forties,given his fitness level. No wonder then that Kapoor is the only one of his generation (of actors) who is not making a comeback. And that,to repeat an oft-used cliché is because he never went away! Except that in his case,it’s true. He just made a smart transition from leading romantic roles to second leads while the going was good after Taal opposite Aishwarya Rai. Soon after his romantic films like Armaan and Salaam-E-Ishq met with mixed reactions,he switched to dabbling in genres as varied as thrillers (My Wife’s Murder),drama (Badhai Ho Badhai where he played a fat guy akin to Eddie Murphy in the Nutty Professor) and of course,good old comedy.

Kapoor is rather matter-of-fact in analysing of his own career. He puts it down to smart strategising. “One of the reasons (for never disappearing from the silver screen) is that I shifted gears at the right time. I didn’t give other people a chance to change the gears for me. For me it’s about consistently being driven by hard work,no matter which phase of my career I was in,” he says.

After playing the action as well as romantic parts,he cleverly side-stepped competition from younger stars like Aamir,Salman or Shah Rukh Khan by accepting comic characters which bolstered his popularity.

“That also was very strategic. Comedy mein kya hota hai ki people don’t see how old you are. With comedy,you don’t have to be a certain age and that can be an advantage. I cannot do a Yeh Jaawani Hai Deewani because that category is for young people. If I did it twenty years back then,it would have been different. Keeping all these things in my mind,comedy films are a good bet and they usually become blockbusters.”

Interestingly Kapoor,though he was never the larger-than-life hero managed to create a substantial repertoire with several firsts. Mr India,which has been much in news lately what with the possibility of a sequel,was a quasi-superhero Hindi film long before Indian superheroes got themselves a formal uniform and a cape. Yet another example of his maverick approach was Lamhe,that showcased romance between a young girl and a man,who was earlier in love with her mother (both played by Sridevi),was a bold step in Hindi cinema.

Kapoor made yet another smart choice when he changed lanes — landing roles in multistarrers like Welcome,No Entry,Biwi No 1 that allowed him to share screen space with younger stars. These were minimum risk projects as the responsibility of the success of a film rested with the younger stars.

“I have usually opted for two hero projects. You have to be sensible and go beyond the superficial kind of things. There is no point trying to fit into parts that you have outgrown. I have seen enough people torture themselves in doing so,much to their own detriment,” he trails off.

When not busy with work,the actor has his hands full playing the protective father. Given Kapoor’s impressive innings,it is hardly surprising that now his children Sonam,Rhea and Harshvardhan are making rapid strides in the movie business. Occasionally they are also his sounding board for creative decisions,admits the proud father.

When celebrated director Danny Boyle approached him for Slumdog,he did not have much idea of Boyle’s work but son Harsh who did,assured him that he was on to a good thing. It was a decision that helped the actor build an international profile,the first mainstream Bollywood star to have done so. Kapoor still seeks his son’s advice for picking out offbeat films and new directors from the creative talent around. But daughters Sonam and Rhea are not too far behind in reckoning with daddy dearest. The reins of his production house,Anil Kapoor Film Company rest with Rhea,who has taken on the mantle of creative producer,scouting (for) and identifying new scripts. After Aisha,two more projects — a remake of Khoobsurat (with Sonam in the lead role) and Saat Hindustani about seven Indian students are supposed to go on floor soon. There is also talk of producing a film based on the book Herogiri.

For his part,Kapoor is always encouraging of their efforts. “It is fortunate that all of us are part of the same field. Harsh,I think,eventually would like to be an actor but he is going about it systematically. After a course in screenplay writing,he will now assist on a film. All three are now part of show business,but their journeys will be different. Fact of the matter is that you have to work hard. Despite your talent,you may or may not succeed because luck plays a huge role. Everyone has to go through ups and downs,” says the protective,yet proud father matter-of-factually.

As for his own journey,content with the way his career is panning out in this new phase,Kapoor hardly has the time or inclination to rue the passage of years. Like earlier times,he is gearing up to push the envelope yet again with 24.

According to Deo,“After 35 years of Hindi cinema and the last five years of association with Fox,Danny Boyle in the international scenario has given him an edge over other people. One thing that separates him from the rest is that he believes in reinventing himself. His love for cinema is unmatchable,and I appreciate his passion and drive to push the envelope.”

priyanka.sinha@expressindia.com

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