Anil Kapoor: Influences, Impressions and Inspirations

Anil Kapoor is as relevant as ever after 45 years in the industry. Photo: Spice PR

Technically, he started in cinema in 1978, with a small role in the Sanjeev Kumar-Raakhee film, Hamaare Tumhaare. That makes Anil Kapoor a veteran of 45 years in the industry, someone who can pull off, even now, major characters like in The Night Manager and Animal, and now, his role in Fighter.

Always quirky and inimitably whimsical as an interview subject, Anil Kapoor has stayed relevant for almost half a century, and age-wise, looks in his forties even today! We start out on a note that turns typically ‘Anil’-humorous.

Excerpts from an interview follow.

Q This is a question I also asked your co-stars. How much of a fighter are you in real life?

Oh, I am a fighter myself! It was first when I got married, next when I got children, and now the ultimate, when I turned a grandfather! (Smiles) And I am still working. As Rocky in Fighter, the new fight was to become 45 years old! Sid (director Siddharth Malhotra) said that I since I look 42, he would have to increase my age by 3 years!

On a serious note, my dad, producer Surinder Kapoor and my grandfather were all fighters, as we had nothing but dreams when we started out! And after over 45 years, to be still relevant, and sitting with all of these young people and working with them makes it all more difficult, so I need to work harder. I have to keep on constantly fighting, and I am enjoying it!

Q Another question because of your longevity: how would you correlate stardom and acting?

That’s simple. When I started out, I wanted work, so I even did small roles, first in Telugu and Kannada films, and then Hindi. But then I got good directors, writers and leading ladies. I love it that I have never been addressed as Anil Kapoor but always as Mr. India, Munna, Lakhan, Majnu and now Balbir Singh, my character in Animal. So I kind of became a star by mistake, because of my characters, the writing and the films. I got to work with Naseeruddin Shah and Dilip Kumar in my earliest films, so I became kind of accessible and saleable! You don’t come thinking you are a star, you become one with God’s blessings, because there are so many who are more talented, more good looking and more hardworking who do not attain stardom!

Q: Hrithik Roshan has been raving about you, right from the days he would assist his director-father, Rakesh Roshan, on your films.

Let me say this: Aap Hrithik ke dimaag mein ghusna chahate hain? Yeh normal hai? Itni mehnat kaise karta hai? (Do you really want to get into his psyche? Is he normal at all that he works so hard?) I rate him among the phenomenal actors I have worked with, as he is an actor to the core. This is how you get longevity. If you want to work only for 10-12 years, it is a different process, but if you want to sustain for 50 years or till the end of your life, aapko Hrithik banna padega (you will have to become like him). He is a generous, giving, honest actor.

Q: How was it working with Deepika Padukone?

Why do some actors and actresses resonate from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and then with the world? It is dedication, hard work and using God’s gifts like your face and voice to the fullest and raising the bar. Her reaction is pitch-perfect. Sadly, we did not have enough time on sets to discover each other as actors or as people!

Anil Kapoor as the commanding officer in Fighter. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

Q: Did you do any research for this role? How do you approach all your characters?

You have to assess the character you get to play. With Fighter, you have to first externalize and then internalize him, which means my look and the uniform were of first importance. In a case like Animal, I had to first internalize as I was playing my age. This time, I was speaking with officers, and watching videos of such people from all over the world as my research.

There is one film that I keep watching—Patton—over 50 years! That has always been my inspiration. It was the first character whose improvisation I did in my acting course, and I have read the book too. But as I said, every character is in a different box. For example, I have never met anyone like the worst man in the world, which I played in The Night Manager. I can’t watch such people or arms dealers in real life, so that’s the tricky part, where you use imagination also, fictionalize and see and rehearse and rehearse. You finally write down, get it wrong and then find the pitch. Yes, you do go on set and find yourself sounding foolish, and slowly and steadily find the correct ‘sur’ (pitch)!




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here