A man accompanied by his young son enters Anil Kapoor’s vanity van at Bandra’s Mehboob Studios, just as our conversation is to begin, and requests for a “candid” photograph with him. The child sits on the actor’s lap as his father taps on the phone’s camera. A slightly burly man, who is with them, also takes the opportunity to ask for a photo with the actor. Without missing a beat, Kapoor turns to the man and asks if he wants to sit on his lap as well. Immediately, everybody, staff and strangers alike, burst out laughing.
That’s Anil Kapoor, 61, an actor with infectious energy.
Ahead of the multi-starrer Race 3’s release next Friday, Kapoor is excited. “This June 23, it will be 35 years since Woh Saat Din (1983) released. Even though I have been acting for 40 years, with Woh Saat Din I started my journey as a leading man,” says the actor, who claims he still does a lot of preparation for the roles he essays. In Race 3, he plays the role of a larger-than-life patriarch. “The challenge was to look larger-than-life yet real while avoiding being a caricature. Aside from this challenge, a lot of effort went into my look, body language and the way I deliver the dialogues. We also had to think of his backstory,” says the actor, who is clad in an all-white attire.
When Kapoor is approached for a role, he falls back on his instincts to make a choice. “I try to figure out if I connect with the story and the character as well as the director and producers. All these boxes must be ticked, before I go ahead with it. Even though we have a nice script, it is important to have a reliable studio, producer and director on board. When the film reaches out to a wider audience, the experience of doing it becomes better,” says Kapoor, who has a gym-ready body for the film and has performed a few stunts.
When he goes through the scripts offered to him, he does give his inputs. “But I never force them,” clarifies the actor, who has acted in landmark movies such as Parinda (1989), Lamhe (1991) and Slumdog Millionare (2008).
Kapoor has been one of the constants in the Race 3 franchise, apart from featuring in other franchises such as No Entry. According to him, franchises are not a well thought out trend in India yet, unlike what Hollywood does with Marvel stories. So far, the sequel depends on the fate of the original movie at the box-office. That, he says, is changing and cites the example of Ayan Mukerji’s upcoming film Brahmastra, which is supposed to be a fantasy trilogy. The actor, who has been part of many multi-starrers, believes in giving his best when on the sets. “The film has to be good. That’s the priority. After that, if they like my work, I’m happy,” he says.
Kapoor has been a prolific actor and his filmography reveals some interesting choices. For Woh Saat Din, Kapoor took the risk of playing an aspiring music director who doesn’t get the girl. Referring to his struggle to establish himself as an actor at that time, he says in a lighter vain, “Beggars can’t be choosers”.
He does divulge that his producer brother Boney Kapoor was thinking of casting him in a romantic movie with a happy ending at that time. “The obvious choice to launch a leading man is to make a love story. However, we were never happy with the script of the proposed film. My brother watched the Tamil film Antha Ezhu Naatkal, written and directed by K Bhagyaraj, in Chennai. He loved it. So, we remade it as Woh Saat Din,” the 1956-born actor recalls.
With Hindi cinema showing its fascination with superhero films of late, won’t it be good time to make the much-anticipated sequel of Mr India (1987)? “We are trying. We have not been able to crack it yet. The struggle is to come up with a great idea,” he lets out. Will he be back as Mr India? “Yes, if the makers want the film to be good,” he says.