Interview By: Ankita R. Kanabar
Donning a white t-shirt, jeans and sunglasses, Anil Kapoor walks around at Mehboob Studio, definitely capable enough to steal the thunder from many younger actors even. Soon, we enter his vanity van for a rendezvous, to talk all about ‘Race 3’. He continues to be a constant in this franchise and quite excited this time around as well. He is biting on some Mumbai special ‘misal-pav’ as we chat, which turns out to be too spicy for him. But here’s Anil Kapoor – honest, candid and full of life. We get chatting about his latest release amidst much more…
So, you continue to remain constant as far as the ‘Race’ franchise is concerned…
To be honest with you, I wasn’t sure about all the three parts of ‘Race’, but something or the other made me do it. During the first part of ‘Race’ I wasn’t sure but I had a few friends, who thought I should do it. In the second part, I had certain script issues, role issues. In part 3, I had date issues. But eventually, everything fell into place.
Your character in the first two parts had certain nuances which stayed with people. What was it this time around?
In both the films I was a cop and I had a female assistant. In this, there is no female assistant. So, these guys have snatched away two things – fruit and female assistant. They were like, you are too old to have a girl assistant and and too healthy to have fruit (laughs).
Today when someone sees your earlier films, they would feel that your zest has continued to remain the same over the years. So, what has changed?
The pitching of my performance has changed. My whole approach has just been that, how do I make my film-makers happy. When you see, ‘Virasat’, or you see the film I did with Mani Ratnam or the one I did with Bapusaab. There was sync sound even then, and the performances were very under-stated. So, I have always tried that I give the director what he wants. I was fortunate, I got to work with good directors, good actors, learnt and evolved, trying to improve my craft and instruments. I have tried to keep my instruments healthy. What are an actor’s instruments? Someone who works in an office, his laptop is his instrument. Our instrument is –our face, body, our senses. The idea is to keep them alert, nice, fresh, energetic, pure, so that you can use them for your work.
Like you said, these are your instruments but is there always some sort of a pressure on an actor to look good, be fit?
It depends. Younger actors obviously have more pressure than me. I do it, because I love my work so much. It’s very important for an actor to feel good about himself. If he feels good about himself, he works better. Atleast that’s how it works for me. I do it more for myself than the others.
How important is it for you even today, to work with good directors who mould you in a certain way?
You have to take chances also sometimes. And you also work with new directors. My film ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Lagaa’, is with a new director. So, you like to work with fresh talent and also, sometimes, it’s like playing cards. You take those chances if you like a script and story. Sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you land up on the wrong side but that’s okay. We are human and we all make mistakes.
In terms of the choices of course, look at the variety over the years! Not to mention, has there been a conscious effort to look different in all these films?
That’s what I have worked hard for. I just love looking different and trying to look as different as possible. Now obviously everyone does that, but it used to give my great joy. Sometimes I used to look so different that people used to get upset for example, when I removed my moustache. My fans were upset that time. Sometimes, it worked. For example, the haircut I had in ‘1942 A Love Story’ which is the kind of haircut boys used to have in the 40s. Or in ‘Virasat’, I had longer hair. I used extensions. I those days, nobody used extensions, the way women use now. I grew my hair so that the extension looked real in the first half. And in the second half I shaved and had that big moustache. I have always been doing that. For that, you have work hard. You have to do lesser films, since you can only do one film at a time. You have to be in a certain look. That was one of the reasons I couldn’t do ‘Race 3’. Because that time I was in ‘Fanney Khan’ look. Then ‘Race 3’ and then I have this look from ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha..’ so I was like, how do I make all these three looks different? I’ll be cheating on that director or that film if I look the same. For that you have to give time and gaps. But then everything fell into place and I could give a different look in ‘Race 3’.
“I look young because I am not scared to look old”
Do your kids help you as far as being relevant even today is concerned?
Definitely and Harsh has been quite instrumental in many of my decisions. He has that convincing power. Even for ‘Race 3’, he said, ‘Dad just do it!’. He is like, ‘do it, so I can do films like Bhavesh Joshi (laughs). You make the money and let me experiment, let me do good cinema. He was right and good I listened to him. So, the dates worked out.
How happy are you with his choices?
Very happy. You see, this is how the foundation should be. People obviously think otherwise. I feel, the foundation for an actor should come from being known for good cinema, for a longer run in the industry. We both have discussed that till the age of 30, do not even think of box-office. Think of working with great film-makers. That’s what I did. First film I did with Bapusaab, it didn’t do well, then I did ‘Kahaan Kahaan se…’. Here, people know more because he is Anil Kapoor’s son. But he is on the right track. One day you get the opportunity, see both the films, and how he is presented. Today when I talk about him, people think I’m appreciating him because he is my son, but I’m not that kind of father. I’m very practical.
You have that connect with people of the earlier generation and the youth today. Is that because you haven’t taken your craft lightly, or always kept yourself updated to the changing trends?
It’s because of my children obviously, because all three have a different mind. So, I get to know different things from all three, I don’t have to go outside to know what’s the latest, or what works. Different kinds of film-makers come to all three of them. I have a different association altogether with people. So, it’s a good bouquet of healthy mix. I take from everyone, they take from me. That’s why in ‘Veere…’ it’s fresh, but there is a certain connect.
Today box-office defines a film’s success or failure, fortunately or unfortunately. So, a ‘Race 3’ might go on to make 200 crores, but then there are some of your old films which didn’t make numbers, yet are loved today. What’s more satisfying for you?
For me, ‘Race 3’ is already a success because the journey has been fantastic for all of us. But the numbers are secondary. Today, Salman and I have moved on to our next. I have done all kinds of films. Films which have had box-office, some films have had both critical and commercial. All of us, just want to work. We don’t take all this seriously. We take our work seriously, but we don’t take people’s reaction to a film, or what happens seriously. What’s in our control is to work. You get up in the morning, work out, exercise, make people happy. If we work, so many people get jobs. If he works, so many people get jobs or the way the industry keeps running. His contribution to the entire film industry and the Indian entertainment tax, is phenomenal. So much money is being rotated which is great for everyone. But you never know what’s going to happen to your film.
Have you set a certain limitations for yourself, about the kind of roles you want to do or never want to do at this time?
There’s nothing called typical or not typical. Either it’s a good role or a bad role. If you like your role, it could be a great grandfather’s role. My role in ‘Eeshwar’ was like a grandfather’s role only. In ‘Lamhe’, I was like Sridevi’s father. In ‘Bulandi’, a superstar like Rajinikanth played my father. It doesn’t matter.
But even at that point, you didn’t have any apprehension to look older?
That’s why I look young. I look young because I am not scared to look old.