By Aarti Kapur Singh
Thirty seven years into his film career, Anil Kapoor seems to be drinking from the fountain of youth. He has set hearts racing with ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ and is ready for the release of ‘Welcome Back’ in September, with John Abraham, Shruti Haasan and Nana Patekar in lead roles.
The only actor who made no bones about wanting to work in Hollywood and was persistent enough to chase opportunities, is easily one of the most recognisable of Indian actors abroad, as we witnessed at the recently concluded IIFA awards in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where the loudest cheers were for “ANEEEEEEL!”
Anil enjoyed an exclusive freewheeling chat with me in the spectacular surrounds of IIFA 2015.
Aarti Kapoor Singh: Your views on IIFA 2015 and Kuala Lumpur?
Anil Kapoor: IIFA is synonymous with unforgettable experiences. I treat any IIFA as a festival of celebrations – celebrating our films, our friends and fun experiences. It is grand, large, luxurious! Even on a global level, it takes Indians and our cinema to the world. Personally, for an actor like me, it is a great opportunity to meet fans from the whole world. It is a combination of films, business, showcasing talent, doing charity, glamour – everything. It is 360 degree entertainment.
Kuala Lumpur has this rejuvenating effect for me. The diversity here is its pulse. Everything is large, like kingsize! We were at the Ritz Carlton and the way we were taken care of, was so grand. In fact, Malaysian hospitality makes you feel so pampered. The people are always smiling and willing to go the extra mile. I hope I can alwys partake of these luxurious experiences.
AKS: With your kind of looks, you are an ideal friend of IIFA. How do you manage to look the way you do?
AK: I have never done anything extra. But I have refrained from letting go of myself. So it is all attributed to discipline. When I was younger, my co-stars would make fun of me for not having enough fun after shooting. But I don’t think it’s important to party till the wee hours to be happy in life. I was very happy shooting and spending time with my family, I still am. I guess that inner peace shows on my face. I never compromise on my work. Yes I do set aside times when I let my hair down. But there have been parties, sometimes even at home, where I am absent because I have an early morning shoot. The other person responsible for this is my wife Sunita. She has really taken extremely good care of me.
I don’t have a fitness regime that I fuss over. Yes, yoga has helped me immensely and I do feel lost if a day goes by without it. I was never into muscle-building. Only fitness. If you’re fit, you feel good about yourself. But it is also attributed to my gene pool. My dad and my grandfather were not actors and yet, they looked after themselves and lived a full life. Also, it’s important to maintain a positivity in your mindset. Never get into a negative line of thinking and be motivated always. The only regime one must follow is to control one’s mind. I do wake up with parts of my body aching some days and then I feel, ‘Chuck it, let me be lazy today’. But then that only lasts a few seconds and I signal my brain to wake up. So I go for a workout immediately. Once the blood circulation starts because of the workout and endorphins are being pumped into the brain, you’re completely rejuvenated and positive thoughts return.
AKS: Is it true that before a shot, you look into the mirror and tell yourself ‘Kya dikhta hai! You are too good’ …
AK: Everybody has some quirks; a little bit of madness and things you do to charge yourself. In my time, my contemporaries were much better looking and had better personas and got better breaks. I had to do something to make me feel that I was on that level as well, so I became my own cheerleader. If someone would ask me, ‘How are you?’ I would say: I am handsome. So yes, when nobody praises me, I look into the mirror and praise myself.
AKS: Were you always interested in becoming an international actor?
AK: Who isn’t? On the face of it they may say they are not. But that isn’t true. Everybody who told me back when Slumdog happened that they’re not interested, are all into it now. All of them who said, ‘our Hindi film industry is good enough’ or ‘we don’t have the time’. But now sab kar rahey hai (now they’re all doing it). I am happy that I am getting to contribute to our industry and theirs, in my own little way.
AKS: What is your ambition for Hollywood?
AK: Actors are nomads. We move a lot and can adapt anywhere – to food, weather, environments – so long as we’re acting. The only thing we cannot replace is family. My vision is that after 15-20 years I would do roles of the kind Morgan Freeman is now doing in Hollywood. Even after 15 years there will be certain roles I will be able to do, because things are different there. Twitter doesn’t go mad there because Brad Pitt did one scene in ‘12 Years A Slave’. My inspirations are performers like Sean Connery and Clint Eastwood. ‘American Sniper’ has become the highest grossing war film ever. People like them really inspire me – you know, people who have been huge stars, who have not wasted their stardom away by not looking after themselves, or by not reinventing themselves.
AKS: Sonam is doing well and Harshvardhan is starting his acting career soon. Also, Rhea’s production house is going great guns, too. Where are you headed?
AK: 2014 was hectic. 2015 will be one of the most exciting years of my life. I’ve great plans for 2016 and 2017. Yes, I’ve already planned many things for the next three years.
AKS: Will you act in ‘Modern Family’?
AK: I hope they cast me. I can play both roles — the older guy or the younger husband. Both are fantastic roles. I can play the gay guy as well. I hope my daughter Rhea, who is taking the decisions, will read this! (laughs)
The Indian Telegraph Sydney Australia