Annu Kapoor enthralled the audience with his performance in films like Vicky Donor and 7 Khoon Maaf. Besides doing films, the actor is a busy man with his small production house, pitching ideas for television and working for radio. During an interview with indianexpress.com, the actor says it’s difficult to find good roles in the industry. Ahead of the release of his new film Jolly LLB 2 co-starring Akshay Kumar, he said he would rather talk about Donald Trump than discussing Karan Johar. Below are few excerpts from the interview:
What motivated you to take up this character in Jolly LLB 2?
A good script, a good producer, able director, a good role and good money. (laughs) What more can an actor ask for? It’s the combination of these factors. Good roles don’t come easily to me. People are saying that maybe after Vicky Donor, this film will justify Annu Kapoor’s talent. They are saying. (I am not saying this).
I am the main adversary of hero Akshay Kumar in the film. My character is a brash, arrogant and top-most lawyer of the city. The beautiful thing about the script written by Subhash Kapoor is that he has not portrayed the glorification of ‘hero’ right from the beginning. Rather, the hero will have to toil a lot, sweat a lot to defeat the antagonist. My character – Pramod Mathur, is very strong which makes the film very interesting.
The film is set in Lucknow. What were your influences from the city to prepare for the character?
When I was 15-16 years old, I stayed in Lucknow for one and a half year. My sister-in-law (Bhabhi) is from Lucknow. I have been pretty good in adopting various accents. This is not the first time that I have used any particular accent. There is a hint of an accent in Pramod Mathur’s character. In Hum, me and Anupam Kher used an accent from Himachal Pradesh. In Vicky Donor, I played a Delhi Punjabi. In my brother’s film, I have taken an accent from South India.
You played a lawyer in Aitraaz. How is that character different from this one?
The lawyer that I played in Aitraaz has more commercial nitty-gritty. However, in Jolly LLB 2, it is lawyer vs lawyer which is the focal point of the film. Subhash Kapoor is dealing with a very deep and grave subject in this film. I find everything very difficult. When I see stars doing things easily, I think — Hamare Jaise Garib Logon ke Liye toh har cheez bahut mushkil rahi hai (Things have been difficult for poor like me).
Do you think, for an artist, it’s important to have a warm, good off-screen rapport with his co-actors for an effective on-screen performance?
I am a very realistic person. I don’t have any complaints either. It’s not important that I have to keep a good relationship with the hero of the film. Often, I find that my intellectual state can be different from that of other actors’. I don’t think it’s important. I do my work with honesty and have a very courteous relationship with my director and fellow colleagues. Otherwise, I am a very private person. As long as we are facing the camera as professional actors, personal rapport doesn’t matter.
Have you seen Jolly LLB?
No. With all due respect, I don’t watch films or TV shows.
Many people are of the view that Akshay Kumar is chosen to add more star power to Jolly LLB 2. How do you see this?
I haven’t seen Jolly LLB. To bring more star power to the sequel should not be considered crime. We all are here to do business. There’s nothing wrong in it. Akshay Kumar is the most saleable, commercially viable superstar of this era. Trade analysts have declared that.
Is it true that you want to make a film with Amitabh Bachchan?
Not Amitabh Bachchan, but his son Abhishek. I am working on a script. The protagonist of the film is based on the life of real-life incident witnessed by me. The moment I feel the script is ready, I will approach Abhishek Bachchan. I don’t know why people ask me about why I want to work with Abhishek Bachchan. The moment I visualise this concept on celluloid, no one else but only Abhishek Bachchan appears. What can I do?
In an interview, you said that Aamir Khan’s performance was the weakest one in Lagaan. Have you seen Dangal? How would you fare his latest performance?
Film critics generally think that a good role means a good performance. No, there are two different things. Good roles and good performances are two different things. When a director gives you a solid character, even speaking your lines correctly can do wonders. And people think, “Oh, he is a good actor.” I must have said that because I would have felt so. I will criticise but not abuse anyone. I have not seen Dangal. With due respect to my peers and colleagues from the film industry, I don’t watch films. The last film I saw was Chak De India.
Did you like Shah Rukh Khan’s performance?
Look what Shah Rukh Khan did in the film and what Shimit Amin made him do on-screen did wonders for the film. I can’t judge Shah Rukh Khan as an actor because I have not seen any of his other films. I can’t comment on his acting ability based on one film.
Is it difficult for an artist to survive on few good roles in the industry?
It’s very difficult to survive in this world. And if you want to live with a self-respect and self-reliance, things are more difficult. If you are an artist, things are faring more difficult. Yahan pe jab tak chamchagiri nahi karoge tab tak mushkil hai (Until you don’t indulge in sycophancy, things are usually difficult). I am too strong a nationalist who will not indulge in any kind of sycophancy.
One has to prove a lot to let people know that you exist. Otherwise, ek piche se mar ke bhaga denge. But if you have got some looks and personality, you get work in 1-2 films with snap of a finger. and if you somehow did good work in 1 or 2 films, phir toh kaam chal hi jata hai.
Have you seen Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Irrfan Khan’s work?
I have not seen their work. But I have heard a lot about Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s work. I pray for both these actors. They are my juniors from National School of Drama (NSD), Delhi. I have never met Nawaz. However, I have heard about him from some responsible people whom I admire. I haven’t heard about him from gossip columns. A certain kind of rationality is missing from this country. I don’t see that rationality in society or politics. People have a tendency to polarise things, to categorise things in either black or white. However, life is neither black nor white. It works in terms of shades. I have heard from my trusted friends that Nawaz is a good actor. I can trust the opinions of these people. So, I believe that Nawaz is a good actor.