Frankly speaking: Anil Kapoor entertains in Dubai

Frankly speaking: Anil Kapoor entertains in Dubai

Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor talks about his life and movies at an event organised by ICAI (Dubai) Chapter

By Michael Gomes

Published: Tue 3 Sep 2019, 10:13 AM

Last updated: Fri 6 Sep 2019, 2:55 PM

What's common between a chartered accountant (CA) and an actor? Not much perhaps, besides the CA keeping the artiste's financial books in order. This may be true in most cases, but it's not applicable to Bollywood star Anil Kapoor, aka Mr India, who dropped in to Dubai to deliver a speech at the AK Speaks: An Evening with Anil Kapoor event, organised by The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India  (ICAI) (Dubai) Chapter NPIO on August 31, at Le Meridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Center.

"I know why you guys have invited me here today," Kapoor brazenly told the audience.
"You (ICAI) could have called any other artiste. But why me? Let me explain," he said, after seeing no response from the crowd.
"This (the event) is a gathering of professionals who deal with numbers. Right? Though I might be bad with numbers (accounts), I can reveal that, strangely, my career started with numbers. Most of my hit movies have had a strong connection with figures like the song One Two Ka Four from Ram Lakhan, it was a major hit, then there was Ek Do Teen from Tezaab for which I won the Filmfare Best Actor award. Then there was 1942: Love Story, another runaway hit. So you see the common connection between your profession and my successful career - it's all to do with numbers for me," explained Kapoor.
The actor, who was invited to talk about his career and movies, entertained the audience for over an hour with anecdotes from his childhood, his movies, family, and also shared the secret to his youthful looks. "From the time I came to my senses, I have wanted to be an actor.  I had no confusion in my mind regarding my choice of career. I was like a horse with blinkers on who could only see acting ahead of him and nothing else," Kapoor recollected.

First role
"I remember, I was studying in the seventh standard, I must have been about 12-13 years old. A friend's dad happened to be a child artiste agent. He offered me a role in a film. I just jumped at the opportunity. I had to audition for the role of a young Shashi Kapoor in the film Tu Payal Main Geet. I don't know why, but I think the director liked my face and offered me the part. I was thrilled. Unfortunately, the film got shelved. However, it was good for me as it was my first acting experience."
"In school, I used to be actively involved in debates and plays. Then I went to college, but I could complete only two years as I wholeheartedly took the plunge in movies. My journey in the film industry started in 1977 with bit roles in several movies, including Telugu, Kannada films. I got my first big break in 1983 when I starred opposite Padmini Kolhapure in Woh Saat Din."

On accomplishments
The actor doesn't boast much about his accomplishments; he says he's blessed to be in the limelight and gets philosophical when asked about it. "I am grateful for every moment I am on this planet. I have learnt to enjoy every moment in life. In fact, right now, sitting here, in front of all of you is my greatest moment. I believe you have to cherish every moment in the day. Enjoy it, be grateful to God,  he has given us so much. I try to be loyal, honest, dedicated and a family man and that's my greatest accomplishment."
Talking about disappointments in his life journey, Kapoor, who donated the entire fees he earned from the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire towards child welfare, is appalled by the condition of the less fortunate. "I am saddened by the plight of people living below the poverty line. They suffer so much and have to go through a terrible ordeal. Then there is the eroding environment conditions and climate change, that bothers me, add to that violence, intolerance, division - all this makes me very sad."

On Hollywood
Kapoor is truly a global star and has showcased his talent in Hollywood movies like Mission Impossible 4, Slumdog Millionaire and the popular TV series 24. Having worked in both industries, he says each one has its own way to reach out to audiences. "We (the film industry) are essentially storytellers. Every country has its own culture and its own way of telling stories. So those kinds of differences will always be there. For example, if someone makes a film from this part (the UAE) of the world, the story will be told differently. But I made one very important observation while working in Hollywood. They don't tell stories only to suit their audiences - they make stories that people from all over the world can relate to. For example, when I was working with Tom Cruise (in Mission Impossible), Tom told me, 'Whenever I face the camera, I am not looking at connecting with the audience sitting in a theatre in the United States, I want to reach out to movie lovers in the Philippines, South America, Africa and other places around the world. Will he (the audience) be able to grasp what I am saying? Will I be able to entertain him?' So you see the thinking in Hollywood is very different and that is the reason their movies gross $3 million, which is incredible," explained the star.

"However, the thinking in the Indian film industry is slowly changing. Our younger generation of actors are making a serious effort to reach out to the diaspora globally," he said.

The actor is full of praise for Hollywood - for their professionalism and eye for detail. "Another thing that Hollywood has going for them is their professionalism, the way they prep for a movie is unbelievable. They go through every minute detail before they start the filming process. They are perfectionists. Companies like Pixar, Marvel and Disney have an almost 100% success rate. Reason? They have so many layers of people involved in the movie-making process who will leave nothing for doubt. They will not start filming unless they are fully convinced that the movie is 100% foolproof. And of course, they have huge budgets and are technically much more advanced than us (Bollywood). We have not yet been able to make a major animation film, but look at the ones coming out of Hollywood, you could screen those movies anywhere in the world and the audience will immediately connect with it and be thoroughly entertained. Their movies don't need to be made in a particular language to be successful - they have global appeal. However, having said that, I am also optimistic about the kind of films that are being made in Bollywood currently. The new generation is much more professional and they will surely be able to make the difference for us."

On role models
Kapoor's inspirations and role models keep on changing. According to him, "When you are a kid, in school, you are inspired by your teachers. Your parents are your role models. Then as you grown up there are the world leaders to motivate you. For me, when I was starting off, I was inspired by actors like Marlon Brando, James Dean, Tom Cruise and Dilip Kumar -  I was very fortunate to have worked in three movies with the legend - Amitabh Bachchan and Naseeruddin Shah, but its not only senior stars, you could also learn from youngsters. Even the common man on the street can inspire you. There are countless people around you who can motivate you," said Kapoor.

On digital platforms
Digital media is the best thing to have happened to people who are in the business of creating content says the actor. "The biggest advantage is sitting in a place, like Mumbai, I can connect with the whole world online. Even for someone in Dubai, if he has a story to tell, he can pitch it to a digital platform, and if they like it, it can become a global success. So the possibilities are immense. In the past, I had to travel all over the world to showcase and promote my films, now I don't have to go anywhere. I can sit in the comfort of my home and do it (digitally)."  
On preparing for a role
Preparing for a role ahead of facing the camera is the most important thing for Kapoor. "Prepare, prepare, prepare, there are no shortcuts. It's the most important thing for actors. In the earlier days, artistes would do things spontaneously in front of the camera, not anymore. I always prepare well, study my character, learn the accent, body language and even study the characters' background. Today, hard work and preparation is the norm.  You cannot expect to find success without preparation."
On family
Kapoor is very close to his daughters - Sonam and Rhea (pictured). "Many of you know that a daughter is a father's princess. I am fortunate to have two daughters and a son. Though all my children are equal for me, I must admit that I'm partial towards my girls. I am very proud of Sonam. I have always encouraged her to be independent and honest. She became an actor on her own. Rhea is a producer and started making movies at a very young age, she's done well for herself. Harsh had made two films and his role in Bhavesh Joshi received critical acclaim. My wife (Sunita) and I are childhood sweethearts, we were in school together, we were friends for 10 years and then started dating and got married. We are now together for about 45 years. Being an actor's wife is not easy, but she has stood by me at all times - through thick and thin, my crazy working hours, my successes and failures."
On his youthful looks
Fitness and diets are clichés says Kapoor. "You may be exercising daily and following a very strict diet, but if your mind is not fit then it will never show on your face - you will never look fit or brimming with energy.  It's not only about physical fitness, believe me, mental fitness has a lot to do with your overall health and how you look - it'll show on your face. You have to take care of your health. Always be positive, optimistic, motivated, grateful, and never be envious. I know it's tough to do that in today's environment, but we should try to reduce it as much as possible. That will help you look younger and better."

On challenges
For Kapoor, every film is a challenge. "You have to be up to the challenge every day of your life. Be physically and mentally fit and keep with the times. My job is such, I cannot entrust anyone else with it. I have to face the camera and emote, no one else can do it for me. In any other field, you can deputise someone else to do your job, but actors can't do that. We can't fake in front of the camera we have to be perfect in every which way. The producer has crores of rupees at stake and if you don't deliver, you will be dumped. Every morning, I prepare myself for the challenges that lie ahead of me. I motivate myself and when I face the camera, I believe that this is the first day of my career and give it my best shot," Kapoor concludes.

Kapoor ends the thoroughly enlightening and entertaining session with his iconic dialogue from his 1985 film Yudh "Manta hoon tere pasand ko, maska hain re maska, ekdum jhakaas!"

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