Veteran actor Annu Kapoor is a treasure trove of Bollywood stories, from anecdotes about yesteryear legends like Raj Kapoor to stories on how some of our beloved actors got their first break. And all of this, he narrates in his distinctive voice on 92.7 Big FM’s award-winning show Suhana Safar with Annu Kapoor. From acting in many Bollywood movies, television serials and hosting TV shows, Kapoor has come a long way in his career spanning 34 years. But he is best known for hosting India’s first reality singing TV show, Antakshari, between 1993 and 2006. More recently, the sexagenarian left us in splits with his portrayal of Dr Baldev, in the popular film Vicky Donor. His performance as an obsessive-compulsive sperm-bank physician got him critical acclaim and also won him the National Award for best supporting actor.
In an exclusive interview with IndianExpress.com, Annu Kapoor talks about prepping for his show Suhana Safar, his charity organisation Fresh Air and Breathe Gardens Association (FABGA) and his thoughts on receiving the Dadasaheb Phalke Excellence Award. Edited excerpts from the interview.
After hosting shows on TV, acting in movies, you recently debuted on radio with Suhana Safar as an RJ. What is it in radio that connects you with listeners?
Annu Kapoor: It’s my experience with the film industry and the ability to communicate and connect with the proper language with my listeners and being there in the film industry for the last 34 years. On June 29 this year, I will complete 34 years in the city of Mumbai.
Why is 10am to 12 noon the best time slot for Suhana Safar, especially since the concept of the show is to make the travel time of office-going people light by playing old melodies? And, when in fact, maximum people are in their cars during 8am to 10am.
Annu Kapoor: The survey of 92.7 big FM and survey about the people travelling may be. I am not very sure about it, but travelling in the metro cities, people going to their respective offices travelling from one end to other end and getting trapped in the traffic anywhere in Delhi or Kolkata or Mumbai or Jaipur. So, they must have reached to a conclusion that this is the best time for people who are travelling from point 1 to point 2, who need some kind of relaxation and how to spend these 2 hours reaching to your destination and spending a good time. I think that. I never thought about it (laughs) that’s why 10 to 12. So, I can only tell you this.
As far as I am concerned, there are different times in different cities. My job is to deliver the creative part (laughs).
How do you prep up for the show? Each day you bring in different trivia. So, how to plan on what to share each day?
Annu Kapoor: The channel’s creative team decides when they are going to telecast any particular episode. There are some specific occasions like anybody’s birthday or August 15 or January 25 or Gandhi Jayanti, so we prepare or record the content of the episode accordingly.
How is hosting a radio show different from hosting TV shows?
Annu Kapoor: On TV you can see me but on radio, you can only listen to my voice and imagine me or my facial expressions or my feelings. I have to communicate through my voice. See, I don’t have any style. So even if you will see me on TV I am not a person who will indulge in lot of drama, throwing my voice to a higher pitch and then bringing it down to create a dramatic effect. No. I am not over dramatic or melodramatic.
Have you ever considered doing some live interactive shows with the listeners?
Annu Kapoor: Yes, even today I have invited few people incidentally. The channel is celebrating June 5 as World Environment Day, so we have formed an organisation association charity called FABGA. Because we are the regular visitors of a garden in Oshiwara, which has been served a notice by BMC that it will be taken over for management and maintenance. So we said, we have formed an association of citizen forum and give it to us because we know how to keep the garden. The garden has received three consecutive best garden awards in Mumbai. It’s care and concern for a better environment in the era of global warming. So, a couple of executive members are going to come to the studio for the cause and express their opinion and appeal to the listeners. So, you see, it is not just on films. But whenever we get a chance or an opportunity, we club it with a social cause and responsibility. It is not only talking about Madhuri Dixit or Divya Bharti, see.
You have received the Dadasaheb Phalke Excellence Award (this is different from the one from the Indian government) for the show. How does it feel?
Annu Kapoor: I hope one day the government of India will recognise this award for the show (laughs).