Anil Kapoor: The ‘Today’ Man

Neetu Singh and Anil Kapoor in Jugjugg Jeeyo. Photo: Hype PR

He hates being reminded of his age even indirectly, as in when he asked how was his experience of working with the younger lot in his new film Jugjugg Jeeyo. Anil Kapoor would rather not talk about “his time” with that term as description. He lives exclusively for the present and the future, and looks much younger than his years.

Dressed in a funky blue shirt (with plants on it as a design!) and brown jeans when he meets me, he plays Bheem, one of the protagonists, who wants to divorce his wife and is suddenly told by his son (played by Varun Dhawan) that he plans to do the same with his better half! Excerpts from an interview follow.

What was it like playing a middle-aged man who wants to divorce his wife for no fault of hers?

I think there is a Bheem everywhere and everybody wants to become Bheem! (Grins) Some only think of divorcing their partners, others actually do it!

What about you?

(Broad grin) Main soch bhi nahin rahaa hoon (I am not even thinking in that direction)!

How do you see the woman’s side?

Today, life is very tough, more from a woman’s point of view. Why should she go through all that sacrifice and trauma? I swear on God, I am telling you that women are much stronger today, and with will-power they can take a similar decision and  make a life for themselves. Today, it is boys who are desperate to get married. Girls are in no hurry, they want marriage on their own terms.

Speaking of your on-screen wife here, how was it working with Neetu Singh?

We have known each other for years, like family members. It is very sad that Rishi (Kapoor)-saab left us. When Karan (Johar) told me that Neetu is in the cast and will play my wife, I was very happy. When she came on sets, she never brought with her the heaviness of what she had lost. She is a great, brave, wonderful lady and I am so happy she is working, especially in her first film in recent times, with me. That is great for the film, for all of us and it is wonderful for me. She is so childlike, and carries her stardom so well. She is effortless and her son is one of the biggest stars today.

Speaking of sons and children, do you pamper Sonam, Rhea and Harsh?

Every child is pampered in different ways, and all of them feel that the other ones are indulged more! I would also tease my mom that she shows her love least for me as the middle son, but we all know in our heart of hearts that parents love all children equally. Also, all kids are different, each has their pluses and minuses, and parents need to pamper them equally but in different ways, as their needs and demands are diverse. Many need emotional backing, while others are independent. The art of parenting has to be learnt, no one comes in fully trained!

You are about to become a grandfather when Sonam delivers. How do you feel?

Right now, I can’t tell you how it will feel when it happens, so let it happen first!

Why are you sensitive when we talk about the younger generation?

Generation! Generation! So which generation do I belong to and why talk about that?

You are the one who has been at it for 40 years. And you have experimented quite a lot with your roles.

(Softens tone). Yes, I have always experimented, right from the beginning. I did a Virasat alongside a Biwi No.1, an Eeshwar with a Ram Lakhan, an AK vs AK with an over-the-top Malang, and a Thar with Jugjugg Jeeyo.

Which kind of films do you enjoy doing most?

Well, nothing is easy. It’s all hard work and effort.

And comedies?

I have a done a very good share of them. First, we used to have films with comic portions, then we began to make total comedies. But doing comedies, whether it is Mr. India, No Entry, Welcome, Deewana Mastana or others, can be very tough. I have also done funny ads for Uber and Spotify. To show your skill in the limited time of 30 to 60 seconds is also a challenge.

You have one more aspect to your career: a consistency with hardly any lows. To what would you credit this?

I think it is a combination of hard work, Lady Luck, making the right choices, getting the right opportunities, learning from mistakes and trying not to repeat them! God has been kind, to sum it up. Ultimately it’s all the Almighty’s doing. There have been actors who are more hardworking and passionate but never made it, so it must be my dad (producer Surinder Kapoor)’s hard work, honesty, the person it was, his goodness and his humility that have paid off. He deserved much more, did not get that, so God gave it all to me, and he saw me get it in his lifetime.

Your filmography has been diverse, bur Harsh Varrdhan has yet to make a mark like you did.

All of us have our own taste, intellect and mind in thinking what is right. Sometimes a certain instinct, craft or talent that is more relatable connects with people. But certain people like my son don’t care. They do films that are true to themselves, don’t care about the audience, and do films they would want to see and which give them happiness and satisfaction, hoping that the scripts stand the test of time.

Harsh has done a Bhavesh Joshi Superhero and a Thar. He played himself in AK Vs. AK in a cameo. He is making those choices, so I would request the media not to judge him or anyone so fast—everyone has a reason for doing a film. I would often do a film for emotional reasons like friendship and when it turned out to be bad, it is I who would be criticized.













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