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Here's Anil Kapoor's latest interview...
The actor gets candid about his big comeback, his beti Sonam, his films, and family matters
The 40-plus Anil Kapoor seems to have rediscovered himself. Parked behind the desk in his freezing office, he's beaming like an actor who's just in his prime. This year, he completes 25 years in the movies and anyone who's had as many highs as lows in over two decades as he has, has earned the right to feel a little giddy about it. On a roll with his scene-stealing act in Welcome, Anil now prepares for his new film Black and White, which releases next Friday. In a no-holds-barred encounter, Anil talks about his big 'comeback', beti Sonam and everything else that matters like never before.
Black and White looks like an arty film. Is it?
Subhash Ghai cannot make an arty film. But yes, it's very different from what he has done before but still, it is a Subhash Ghai film it has a story to it. Drama, emotions and songs. It's a kind of a first for both of us. For the kind of films we have done together in the past. Meri Jung, Karma, Ram Lakhan, Trimurti and finally Taal have all been typical mainstream films.
Let's talk about your role.
I play a professor who teaches Urdu. It wasn't a conscious decision to do this film now. But my relationship with Subhash is such that I can never say no to him. He's the only filmmaker for who I can start shooting even without reading the script. He told me that the whole cast is new. So I asked him, 'then why do you want me? And he said 'No one understands me like you and so I want you.'
Maybe for the star value?
(Uncomfortably) I don't know what was in his mind. So I said, 'Ok, I will do it.'
The Welcome tapori image works for you, So won't B&W hamper that?
I always have had totally different kinds of films releasing one after the other but it has never affected my career adversely. Years ago, I had a Ram Lakhan followed by an Eshwar. I remember Subhash Ghai and Shekhar Kapur told me that it was a big blunder. Now two weeks after Black and White, I have Race that is again a hardcore commercial flick.
... then Tashan, your comeback to the Chopra camp
Adi (Chopra) says he only likes me in Lakhan kind of roles. He often asks me why I do these sober roles. (laughs)
I haven't worked with them after Lamhe. I had met Adi before but was not comfortable. If he feels that someone is right for the role, he will do his best to get that person in, no matter what has happened in the past. And what had happened was such a small thing. Yashji had wanted me to do Parampara and I had refused. But now that's behind us.
Are filmmakers comfortable approaching you for Sonam?
There must be times when they are uncomfortable. But ultimately, the creative decisions are taken by her. I remember Rani told me, 'It's important that Sonam takes her own decisions so if anything goes wrong, she should not blame you. In time, she will learn to make the right choices.' I don't want Sonam to be in the position that I was in. There were a few films I did because my dad asked me, which, in retrospect, I felt that I shouldn't have done.
Why has Sonam just signed one film?
There are many reasons for Sonam doing just one film. She has the advantage that other actresses probably don't have. To her acting is a passion, it's not like she has to buy a house, or settle herself... so she can take her time. Her film has to have a good script, a good hero, a good director, a good producer... she should do films where her craft improves. She need not sign five films, six ad films and feel, 'I have arrived now.' So she's taking her time.
It doesn't worry Sonam that her contemporary Deepika is everywhere?
You know these things would affect someone who is not aware what the film industry is. Someone who doesn't understand what is exposure and what is being exclusive. And the longer run, the value of being exclusive, is tenfold.
You get that, but isn't she too young to understand?
No, she understands more. Today's generation is completely different. There have been actors in the last 2-3 years, who have been spoken about and written about excessively. They were here, there, everywhere but ultimately when their films released, no one went to see their films. I believe you have to build your brand, build your fan-following… don't be in a hurry. Sometimes it happens overnight, sometimes it takes time but you should not panic and do wrong films. I think whatever is happening is happening in Sonam's favour.
Your fight with Akshay for billing in Welcome...
(cuts in) To be honest, there were no issues with Akshay in Welcome. Obviously, at the time, I didn't know that this was their way of promoting the film.
It was a publicity gimmick?
Yes. But I understood the game slightly later. If I had known at the time I was asked about the controversy, my reaction would've been very different. I spoke very positively and it was nipped in the bud. If not, the whole thing would've gone against Akshay, not me.
I feel Akshay is a big star and they unnecessarily pitched me against him and put me on par with him.
And you are not a star???
I am talking before the release. After the release what happened is different. But before the release I was quite taken aback by the strategy. Ultimately, it went in my favour. And that's because it was not maneuvered by me. Of course I am senior to him, and I am a star, so the whole controversy was senseless. I have been a star-actor since the last 25 years. I have always charged my price, which has always been bigger than what the other actors were getting. I have chosen my roles, I have made my own choices. I have taken pangas.
The best compliment you recieved for Welcome?
When Akshay Kumar himself told me, 'It's your film, Anil.'
Your film Gandhi My Father was not a commercial success. Comment.
For my first home production, I had to raise the bar — of the quality of the film, the content, the performance; and I feel that I have succeeded in a very big way. My film has won lots of international awards, which no other Hindi film has. Let me just say that when I released the film for the Indian diaspora, in one shot, I recovered all the money I had spent. Much more than I had expected, in fact. When I had started the film, many people from within the industry told me that I would suffer high losses and be running around with a begging bowl after its release.
What did Boney have to say about your Gandhi?
Boney always goes with my creative instincts. He knows that when I take these mad decisions, they go right for me. He is also very careful about saying anything about my choices.
Would he tell you if he felt you were going wrong?
No. He knows that nobody can make me change my decisions. There are times when you go right, and times when you go wrong. GMF has built a brand for me as a filmmaker that I would not have been able to buy even with crores of rupees.
So you will continue to make similar films?
I will do any film that I instinctively feel like making.
At one time, you brothers were the most powerful unit in the film industry but today you all seem to be doing your own thing. Comment.
We are very much together emotionally. Even when the perception was that we are together, we all had our own minds from the mind we started our careers. We took our own decisions and it was a very logical that eventually we all go on our own roads and it's good for all of us. But we are still very close.
How often do you meet?
Very often. Now, even Sanjay has moved to Juhu, which is very close to Boney's house and mine. Even the wives are close which is very rare these days. And I think that's because everyone has their own space.
Do you discuss work?
(Thoughtfully) When things are going wrong, yes. We just pick up the phone and talk about it. Like when I get stuck, I call Boney and say, 'What are you doing, lets talk.' For example when I was doing the deal for Gandhi My Father, Boney was part of it. Also, when I was doing Welcome, I had issues with Firoz and I told Boney, 'Please yaar, I am doing this film for Anees Bazmee, you go and talk about money to the producer,' and he did.
Your contemporaries Jackie and Sunny are not in the running. What has worked for you?
I think this question is a bit unfair. Things can change any time to anybody. Everyone goes through ups and downs. I might be be in the same situation someday, so I don't want to gloat.
And your low phase...
The only time I felt that my career was at a low was when I had to take decisions that I felt I shouldn't have. Like I did two films with Pahlaj Nihalani Andaz and Mr Azaad for purely monetary reasons because Roop Ki Rani had not done well. I knew I was doing something wrong, and I still did it.
That was for me, my lowest patch. Then again, when I did Bewafaa with Dharmesh Darshan. I had lots of issues with the film but I kept quiet because of Boney. I feel that if I had been stronger at the time and said no, it would've been better for all of us. I hate myself for becoming weak at that time.
At that moment, if I had said no, they would've been upset but in the end it would've been better for all concerned. But I was on this whole trip of being a good guy, and that can go against you. Trying to be good for others, is not only bad for you, but it's bad for them also. So in the last 2-3 years, I have taken decisions that have upset some people close to me, but I have stuck to them.
Give me a 'for example'?
For example, I didn't do the film that Sanjay (Kapoor) wanted me to do for him with Vivek Agnihotri. It was a remake of a foreign film, and I said no, knowing that Sanjay would get upset. I didn't want to make the same mistake that I'd made earlier. He was very angry and upset with me. But if I'd gotten weak and said, 'Let me do this for my brother', it would've harmed us both.
And I am happy I was firm because today Sanjay is making a better film.
And Sanjay is fine with your decision now?
I hope. I think he is. If I'd said yes, I would've harmed him more than myself and I hope he gets that now. For sometime the whole family felt what I did was wrong, my parents were upset. But it's important to stick to your convictions. And that's why I admire people like Nana Patekar and Aamir Khan.
You were very keen to do a sequel to No Entry?
I think the reason the sequel to No Entry has not happened is because Boney was very keen to do Pokhri with Salman. That script was ready, while the No Entry sequel was not. I think Boney took the right decision. Whether it is No Entry 2 or Welcome 2, the scripts are not ready, and Nana, Salman and me are not the kind of people who will just announce the sequel of a film just to stay in the news. When the script is ready, and if we like it, the film will happen, until then it's all just talk.
Joined: 06 May 2005
Joined: 17 October 2007
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