Bollywood actor Sanjay Kapoor, who impressed fans with his most recent on-screen appearance as a cop in supernatural thriller The Last Hour, is the latest celebrity to receive the coveted Golden Visa from the UAE.
He shared a post on Instagram that read, “A big ‘Thank You’ to the UAE, @uaegov and its progressive, forward-thinking leaders for granting me a Golden Visa – a residency of 10 years in this amazing country, where a vision is never a dream, but a very tangible reality! Grateful to and honoured by the @gdrfadubai and the Federal Authority for Identity & Citizenship for this privilege. Special thanks to Mr. Anil Dhanak of @kanzjewels, and @jamadusman for facilitating this. #UAE #GoldenVisa, Shukran jazeelan. Proud to have been given the exclusive ALSAADA Card by @gdrfadubai, the key to a truly memorable experience in Dubai. I’ll be using this card to enjoy my stay in Dubai, the city of happiness!”
Other Bollywood and South cinema stars who were recently granted the visa include Sanjay Dutt, Suniel Shetty, Dulquer Salmaan, Mammootty, Mohanlal, and Tovino Thomas. And earlier this month, Sanjay’s elder brother, filmmaker Boney Kapoor and his daughters Anshula, Khushi and Janhvi as well as son Arjun became part of this ‘Golden’ list.
Sanjay, who has been part of films like Raja, Shakti — The Power and The Zoya Factor over his 26-year career, dropped into the Khaleej Times office on Thursday, September 23, to talk about the Golden Visa honour. He also opened up on his OTT career, upcoming projects and what advice he would give daughter Shanaya who is preparing to make her debut in Bollywood.
Considering your long association with the UAE, what are your thoughts on receiving the coveted Golden Visa?
It’s a great honour and great privilege to have this Golden Visa. People from India love coming to Dubai. I’ve been coming here since.. well I don’t want to expose my age, but…(laughs) I’ve been coming here for more than 35-38 years. As a kid I used to come to the UAE, go to Sharjah, watch the cricket matches at the time. I never thought that I would be a resident here one day. I just want to thank the UAE government and the immigration authorities.
Your brother Boney and his family members recently received the visa. Other Bollywood and South stars have got it as well. Do you hope this effort on the part of the UAE Government to recognise and honour artists from India will pave the way for bigger collaborations in terms of films and other projects?
Of course. It’s a big advantage. I’ll give you an example, for six months we couldn’t come to Dubai from India because of Covid restrictions, which was also rightfully done. But with the Golden Visa, if I had work over here or anything, we could travel over here.
And I feel the government is encouraging this so that more and more people come here, as it is there are so many collaborations and this is only going to add to them. It’s just making life much easier. They are coming out with new ideas and new things - Dubai is a lovely city and welcoming everyone with both hands.
We’ve seen on your Instagram that you’ve been travelling. You were in London recently and now Dubai. What do you plan to do on your trip here?
I basically came here because of the Golden Visa. We spoke about Boney getting it, we’ve all had an invitation so far. Even Anil has got it. You have to come here and there is a protocol to be followed; you have to do a blood test you have to do a lung test. All those protocols I followed - so technically I am the only one in the family who has actually got it, on the passport!
That’s why I decided that I will come and it was really a cakewalk… the authorities were very warm and welcoming. Now I’ve got it, and it’s very exciting.
How long do you plan to stay and what are some of your favourite spots in the UAE?
I was here in December 2020, then April 2021. Now that I am here after a long time…I’ve got a lot of friends here in Dubai - I will spend some time with them. I’m surprised at the weather… it’s really great! Normally September is still a little warm but I’m really pleasantly surprised in spite of coming from London, it’s not been that hot. When it’s really hot and even though everything is air-conditioned, that five seconds from the hotel and getting into the car.. that five seconds will kill you (laughs).
So I’ll stay for two-three days and catch up and enjoy the lovely food - the restaurants over here are really nice.
Sanjay you’ve had a really long innings in Bollywood — you started out in 1995, and of late you are seen more on OTT platforms where you have had a golden run, we would like to say.
I have the Golden Visa — I’m on the golden roll (laughs). Everything about me is getting golden.
So do you believe that certain things are destined — when the time is right it just happens?
Of course! In life the thing is, you have to keep on trying. You can’t always be right on the top. I’ve always seen the glass as half full, I’ve been very positive towards life. Obviously I have had hurdles and I am very open about it. I’ve got no hang-ups — a fact is a fact. Especially if you are an actor and have an actor’s life - everyone knows everything. When you are on a high or going through a low, everyone knows. But the thing is that I remain focused and I remain fit. I was waiting for good work.
And that’s the reason that there was a time when I was not doing films. The kind of work that I was offered; it was nice, but not something that I was really looking for. I was happy with what I had done before; I had done some great films — some successful and some not so successful but I’ve been proud of all that. I’ve had some great music in all my films.
Then I got into production. The last time I visited the Khaleej Times office I came as a producer for Tevar, with Arjun Kapoor, Manoj Bajpayee and Sonakshi Sinha. So I kept myself busy in production and then Lust Stories happened. It came on Netflix. Then I did a television show called Dil Sambhal Ja Zara, which was a huge success and so was Lust Stories.
I’m really enjoying what I’m doing right now, like web series The Last Hour which released six months ago.
What can you tell us about your upcoming projects?
I’m doing another show on Netflix called Finding Anamika with gorgeous, talented Madhuri Dixit. We worked on Raja 26 years ago and Mohabbat came in 1997. So technically I’m working with her after 23-24 years and it was a pleasure and honour then and it’s a pleasure and honour now also! It’s always good to work with her.
I had done a very interesting show called The Gone Game, which I shot in the lockdown at home. I shot the entire thing on the iPhone. I didn’t meet the director, or any of the actors. And it was a huge success; people loved the concept. It was such a success that I am shooting for Season 2 right now.
At the end of this month, I have this short film called Friction releasing. So I’ve been keeping busy. I’m one of the few fortunate people who probably have been a little more busier than the others.
Your last web series for Amazon Prime Video, The Last Hour, was quite well received for its unusual premise. Can fans expect a second season?
I’ve got no idea right now! It was a very expensive show — they are very keen to do it but as per our contracts and everything till it happens we are not supposed to talk! But I am ready to do it because I had a great time shooting it and if they say we are shooting Season 2, I’ll be there.
We recently saw your daughter Shanaya’s first Instagram advertisement and it was pretty well received. So as a dad, what do you feel?
For me it was strange when she first got those ad offers because she’s not been shooting as an actor. And here she was getting ads, and just not one, you’ll see few more ads coming.
Obviously I was very happy; like I said I felt strange earlier, but I think she’s been really well received by the audience.
She always had a private Instagram account but when it became public, in a day she had 100,000 followers. And I am very proud that right now I have worked for 26 years, and she has got more followers than me. So yes, I think people love her and that’s the reason she got those ads.
As someone who has been in Bollywood for so many years, what is the advice you would give Shanaya?
In our family we don’t, like, sit down and give advice as such. Shanaya has seen my life so closely. As a daughter she has seen my ups and downs. I really don’t have to tell her anything.
Just the other day we went to Roberto’s for dinner and there were a lot of people who wanted to click a picture. Someone I met for the first time posted on Instagram that it was so lovely meeting Sanjay Kapoor especially because he gave time to everyone who asked for a photograph.
I sent that to Shanaya just to indirectly show that being humble is so important. Because that’s what people remember besides your films. Be positive, keep on doing great work, but your personality also adds a lot to your career. People will love and respect you even more if you have a humble personality.
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