‘Slumdog critics need to grow up’

For the detractors of Slumdog Millionaire who suggest that the Mumbai-based film would not have received half the acclaim it has, had the director been an Indian, Anil Kapoor has simple advice: “Grow up.”


Published: Sun 8 Feb 2009, 9:03 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:24 PM

“It’s a very racist statement to make,” he said. “We are living in the 21st century. With all this globalisation, the whole world is becoming one. It’s very sad for someone to make a statement like this.”

“The younger generation in India is getting mature - that’s why it has been appreciated so much in India as well as abroad. We need to grow up and not talk like children,” he said.

Although Kapoor, coldly effective as Prem Kumar the host of the show in the film, is not up for any individual awards, the film’s astonishing and near-universal success is a more than adequate reward for him.

“When you are attached to a film that has become such a phenomenon - you are grateful just being attached to it. Even if I had appeared in just one shot of the film I would have been equally grateful. It’s once in a lifetime that you get this kind of work,” he said.

It was Kapoor’s 17-year-old son Harshwardhana, currently enrolled in a four-year course in screen writing in Los Angeles who goaded his father into taking up the role.

The senior Kapoor was but dimly aware of who Danny Boyle, Slumdog’s director, was.

“My son said, ‘Danny Boyle, you know who he is? He is a great director of films like Trainspotting. You have been coming to my room several times. Did you see the poster on my wall? It’s a poster of Trainspotting. And you are thinking of doing a role in his film? Call him immediately or I am walking out of this house’!”

Kapoor paid heed to his son’s threat and signed up for the film, undeterred by rumours that the role had been turned down by some of Bollywood’s top names before it was offered to him.

“When stars like Shah Rukh Khan...turn down such roles I love to do them. I have been asking Aamir Khan, ‘When are you going to turn down a role so that I may be asked to do it?’ I like to do any role if I like the character and role anywhere - Hollywood, Bollywood, Spain, France - anywhere in the world.”

A fair share of the acclaim that Slumdog is gathering has naturally gone to Dev Patel, the 18-year-old British actor of Indian origin who plays the central character of Jamal Malik.

It was recently announced that Patel had landed the role of Prince Zuko in director M. Night Shyamalan’s forthcoming film The Last Airbender, and Kapoor has nothing but praise for his young co-star.

“Good for him! He is a good actor and has a great screen presence. He and Frieda [Pinto, Patel’s co-star in the film] both are going to be the next youth superstars.”

So is Anil Kapoor set for more Hollywood projects? You can almost see the actor smile over the phone.

“At the moment I’m focusing on Slumdog -interviews. I don’t want to talk about my future plans.”

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