I will do whatever it takes to take care of my family: Anil Kapoor


In a career spanning over four decades, Anil Kapoor has delivered several memorable films. In our interview, the actor reflects on his journey, shares why he is grateful about the work still coming his way, and points out that there is great strength in asking for help. Excerpts:
How was the mood on the sets of 'Jug Jugg Jeeyo' in Chandigarh? It's Neetu Kapoor's first film after Rishi Kapoor's demise and she had to be rushed back to Mumbai after contracting COVID...
Working on 'Jug Jugg Jeeyo' with Varun Dhawan, Kiara Advani, and Raj Mehta in Chandigarh, has been a blast. Post the success of 'Good Newwz', it would have been easy for a director to lose focus but Raj has dedicated himself completely to the project and that’s how I know 'Jug Jugg Jeeyo', too, is going to be fantastic. Working with Neetu was great! She’s been a close friend of me and my wife, Sunita, for a long time and we have some amazing memories together. I don't think 'Jug Jugg Jeeyo' is her 'comeback' film, because she was never forgotten.
We did have a small hiccup when Varun, Neetu, and Raj tested positive for COVID, but the following mandatory 10-day break actually helped us. We returned to work more refreshed and energetic. Sometimes long schedules can get to you, so, the break was a blessing in disguise. I am very excited for 2021 and I feel 'Jug Jugg Jeeyo' is going to do well.
Filmmakers are still writing roles specifically for you...
It works both ways-- sometimes writers write a compelling story with complex characters and then cast the actors who will do most justice to it, and sometimes writers spin a story about compelling actors that they think will carry the story on their shoulders. It's a personal choice. But when I do receive a script, I'm fortunate to have a great team and the support of my family in making the right choices. All I know for sure is that I am grateful for being sought-after, and for the continuous work coming my way.
I'm going back to your first day on the sets of 'Shakti'. Tell us about it...
My first day was historic! Ramesh Sippy was directing, Salim-Javed were the writers, Smita ji (Patil), the great Dilip Kumar saab and Amitabh Bachchan were in the room. I was performing in front of them. I got so nervous that we had to do several retakes. When I look back, I feel like I could have done better in 'Shakti'- but the experience helped me do better in 'Karma' and 'Mashaal'; so, I’m grateful for it. Every film has taught me something or the other. Even today, I recall the nervousness whenever I go to shoot for a new project. It pushes me to give my best every time.
I know it's a tough one but tell me your three best movies in terms of creative satisfaction as an actor?
I don’t think I can pick three because they all are extremely special and the list is very long. But a fan recently sent me a text, listing down my top 50 films. I can share that with you.
Had you expected a National Award for 'Pukar' and 'Gandhi'?
When you do a good film, you have a gut feeling that there's something special about it. But you never do it with the expectation of any award; you just commit yourself to it wholeheartedly. However, there is no denying that receiving two awards for 'Pukar'--the National Award for Best Film on National Integration, and Best Actor--is easily one of the highs of my career. The same applies to 'Gandhi', which won us three National Awards. Sometimes, when a film does not receive the commercial success you hope for, mainstream awards ignore it. This made 'Pukar' and 'Gandhi' extra special for me. It validated my belief that genuine hard work never goes unappreciated.
What's more difficult--to make people laugh or cry?
Fundamentally, it's about a good script and content. Personally, I think eliciting laughter is a much tougher than tugging at the heartstrings
You're known for your calm demeanour. In fact, word is that if you're feeling low, call up Anil Kapoor. How do you cheer people up?
That’s very sweet. I have made some good friends in the industry. I think we all have low days and need someone to talk to, including myself. I believe that there is great strength in asking for help when you need it, and that if someone does reach out to you for help, it's not only your duty but also your moral obligation to do everything in your power to be supportive. That's the principle I have always lived by.
Do you ever get angry on sets or at home?
Of course, I do. Anger is a natural emotion but over the years, I have tried controlling it. Sunita has been a great inspiration to me; she has the patience to let things slide by. But I can't deny that certain things, like unprofessionalism and dishonesty, continue to irritate me. I am a work-in-progress, just like everyone else.
How would you describe your equation as a father with Sonam before her marriage and after it?
Our bond has grown even stronger since she got married. I definitely miss her more, now that she is not at home with us. Thank God we live in an age of connectivity! Sonam and Anand (son-in-law) are probably the two people I call the most now.
Reflect on the films you did at the beginning of your career. How would you describe the difference in the change of content in cinema over the years?
There has been a dramatic change in the nature of content. Filmmakers are making bold choices that they would've never even considered before. It’s a far more experimental and fearless era for cinema and I am delighted to be a part of it.

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