Interview By: ANKITA R. KANABAR

Anil Kapoor and Anees Bazmee as a team – has worked magic while they’ve given us a number of memorable films to cherish, right from ‘No Entry’ to now ‘Pagalpanti’. This is a solid actor-director team and of course, Kapoor is one of the finest actors we have. Not to mention, continues to give us something new every time. We catch up with this duo and chit-chat about their new film amidst more. Excerpts:

And how excited have you been for ‘Pagalpanti’ with such a cast?
Anees Bazmee (AB):
 Expectations are a very good thing. In fact, I will feel bad if no one expects anything from us. We feel we have made a good film. This is a 100 marks exam, where at times you can also get 200 marks. This is not possible in any other exam. I hope the audiences love the film. However, no matter what kind of fate the film meets, I would like to say that it was a great journey. After many years when we look back at it — the whole process, the people, the fun and frolic that we had – it will remain with us as unforgettable memories.

The audience loves you in a comedy film – how much do you enjoy the genre?
Anil Kapoor (AK): I think the audience enjoys me in them because I give them gaps between comedies, and I keep fondling with every kind of movie. Like, when I was doing ‘Total Dhamaal’, I was also doing ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga.’ Also, it’s not about what I enjoy. Whenever there is a film pitched to me as an actor, I assess it on the basis of my role, the script, the director, the producer and the co-stars. It depends on what’s being offered to you. In Total Dhamaal, Madhuri and I play a lower middle-class Gujarati couple. In Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, I played a different character. Along with ‘Pagalpanti’, I was doing Malang, which is completely its opposite. For me it’s about doing different things and dwelling into them. In Pagalpanti, I have designed and written my own backstory, which is that my brother-in-law Saurabh Shukla and I used to make jalebis. Eventually, they become the dons of Malad. After Malad, they progressed a bit and went to London. In London, they are dons and do business with the underworld. Then, these character become fun for me. All my films – from ‘Woh Saat Din’ until now – I have done all kinds of genres like drama, action, comedy, or out-and-out comedy.

It’s also interesting that the audience actually remember you for all your characters – be it Munna from ‘Tezaab’ or ‘Mr. India’ or ‘Majnu Bhai’ from ‘Welcome’. How good do you feel about that?
AK:
I feel very nice when people address me by my character’s name in the crowd. People call me Mr India, sometimes they call me Lakhan or Munna or Majnu bhai. Sometimes they say jhakaas. Kartar Singh’s role in Mubarakan also became quite popular. I had played a Sardar for the first time. In 24, Jai Singh Rathod got appreciated. My character was the head of the anti-terrorist unit. His life was torn between his family and the country. It was a very serious character and I enjoyed it. In Pagalpanti, I play Wi-Fi bhai.

What lead to such a title – ‘Pagalpanti’?
AB: When I started writing, there was a little bit of madness and then it became a bit more. The bright side is that ‘Pagalpanti’ does not reveal the story. There are many films which have great titles, but the story gets revealed. Like ‘Main Badla Loonga’, now everybody knows what the film will be about. There are many films which have catchy titles, but the story is not revealed. For example, No Entry or Welcome, you don’t get the slightest hint of the story. In the same way, I think Pagalpanti is a great title.

What’s the biggest challenge in writing a comedy?
AB: The biggest challenge while writing a comedy is to not be repetitive. That is the hardest part. Writing is difficult as it is, but besides the dialogues, we must convey what is not said, the feel should come.

How do you handle such an ensemble cast and also you both seem to share a great rapport. We’ve seen Anil Kapoor in so many of your films!
AB:
Whenever I make a film, I have to deal with 25 different temperaments among the actors, and at that time, you feel you must have a kindred soul that walks with you! Someone who will defend you and take your side in an argument with another artiste! (Laughs) That’s Anil! And I don’t think any actor can play Kishan in “No Entry” or Wi-Fi Bhai in “Pagalpanti” better than Anil can. People still remember him as Kartar Singh too, in “Mubarakan”! Talking about having an ensemble, every character’s foundation and development must be well-sketched. For example, when I narrated the script of ‘Aankhen’ to Govinda, he said, “Great! This whole movie is on me!” When I narrated the story to Kader Khan, who also had a double role, he too told me, “Mine is the most major role. What are the other actors doing?” A similar story happened with Raj Babbar, also in a dual role, who said, “Oh, this film is in my hands!” So everyone should think their roles are fantastic. Whether you have eight artistes or eighteen or more!

How have you kept yourself motivated with such energy levels all through – right from working with an ensemble cast in your initial days to now working with all the younger actors being at par!
AK:
Even when I used to do smaller roles I had a great time. I remember travelling to Kalimgong for the shoot of ‘Ek Baar Kaho’. Then I remember going to Ooty to shoot for ‘Shakti’. I played Dilip Kumar’s grandson and Amitabh Bachchan’s son. I cannot forget that scene where Dilip Kumar is standing in front of me and behind the camera were Ramesh Sippy, Amitabh and Smita Patil watching me while I was giving my shot. Where I would get this kind of opportunity again? “Then, I worked with Nilu Phule, Naseeruddin Shah and Padmini in ‘Woh Saat Din’. I have travelled the whole world for films. Every day, every minute I feel I have been very fortunate. This is the reason I feel so positive and look the way I look. I have been blessed and fortunate that since 1983, every year, or in one-and-a-half year one movie of mine becomes a hit, super-hit, blockbuster or critically acclaimed. I still get scripts that are fresh and unique. That happens when you love your work and you keep going back to it again and again.

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