by Devansh Patel
Given his fame, Anil Kapoor has an unusually sensible attitude. “How are you and what have you been up to?” is what he asks me. “So tell me, are you shuffling between London and Mumbai?” is the next question. I'm sure it was meant to be the other way. Plus, it was an overseas call made from Mumbai to L.A. Nevertheless, he sounds super cool and a dapper dude on the other side. If anyone should know when a party's over, it's Anil Kapoor. In his prime he was a major movie star and pin-up. Today he grows stronger than ever before and the reason is just one lucky film he signed, Slumdog Millionaire. For many people, mostly journalists, the return of Anil Kapoor was simply a convenient excuse to rehash his amazing story. But the difference between then and now is that Anil really is back, and reconnected with his passion called films, not just as an actor, but as a committed producer too. His first film Gandhi My Father gathered rave reviews from the world wide Press. Kapoor is someone who tends to get involved. Not getting involved is never an option. The commitment that now fuels his activism has long underpinned his acting and, of late, his producing. He has left behind the jhakas image that lingered for years and is now back in business with some serious production work. UK's Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent gets an exclusive ten minutes with the ubercool Kapoor and finds out that he is having the time of his life now because everything that he did before was just a prologue.
After producing a serious film like Gandhi My Father, why back a film like Shortkut which is an out and out comic caper? Is it for commercial reasons?
I'm sure every film is made for a commercial reason. As an actor, I've performed in one of Indian cinema's biggest hits like Mashaal, Karma, Eeshwar, Beta, Lamhe, Kishan Kanhaiya, 1942 A Love Story and Rakhwala. All the films I've mentioned were different from each other. Some were commercial successes and the others were critically acclaimed and some did decent business. So as a producer too I want to be diverse. Shortkut came across to me as a fun film, it had great actors, there was scope for music, comedy, emotions, etc. In fact, there was scope in every department. As a child, I'd love to go and watch a film like this. So why not produce something that is loved by one and all.
Brief us about your good friend Akshaye Khanna. After his superlative performance in your debut production, he is seen in your second. Third, fourth, fifth too?
(laughs) He is a great actor. He is doing a comedy role in Shortkut with so much variety. It's a well rounded performance by him. The good thing about casting Akshaye Khanna is that he is very vulnerable. Shortkut isn't just a normal comic caper for Akshaye which he has done in his past films. You have to be too intense an actor to be funny.
What have you to say about Amrita Rao's makeover in Shortkut and how did you zero her down?
I had seen portions of her film Vivah. I needed a girl who looked like a star, who looked beautiful and had a kind of a personality that she does acting for the passion of it. But she equally gives importance to relationships also. Thus Amrita Rao was the only actor I found who would suit the role. She looks gorgeous in Shortkut and I promise it'll be her best role ever.
Is there any truth in the rumour that you were upset with Akshaye Khanna for not promoting the film?
As a producer of your film, you have all the rights to be upset with anybody. Sometimes you pamper your actors, someday you are upset with them, sometimes you want to see all the cast work together towards the success of your film and have a good release. I am not upset with him at all. If there is anything Akshaye is not happy about, I'll call him and find out.
How was it to work with Sanjay Dutt again after the last time you were seen with him in Musafir?
It's always fun to meet him. It's like a picnic when you are with Sanjay Dutt. In fact, I told him the very same words, “Let's have a picnic Sanju. Let's do a song together.” We had a great time dancing together proving the point that who is worst than the other and who can come up with the worst ever moves on the dance floor (laughs).
So who's a better dancer then?
You can quote me when I say, “Sanjay Dutt is a better dancer than I am.” He is unique and you will soon find out. He is chilled out, looks cool and can carry a music video all by himself. He has done it in the past in Musafir for a track called 'Saki'.
How's Los Angeles keeping you Anil?
Very good I should say. Most of the time I am here now because I am shooting for a tele series called 24 with Jack Bauer. It's an American action / drama serial produced by Fox television and Imagine Entertainment. I've already completed four episodes and currently waiting to get into the fifth one.
Neeraj Vora is known for his wacky sense of humour. Does he surpass himself in Shortkut?
I love Neeraj Vora's sense of humour. He is an extremely talented individual with a diverse calibre in writing and direction. He is India's rare talent who needs to be taken seriously, and that is not funny.
What about Arshad Warsi?
Both Arshad and Akshaye are going to surprise and shock you in Shortkut. He is known all over the world as Circuit. You put them into a serious situation and they will come out making you laugh. Arshad is also a good actor who needs to be taken seriously by our industry. I can surely say this that Arshad has surpassed his previous best role of Circuit.
Are you going to be in India during the release of your film Shortkut?
Currently I am in the United States of America. I will be there in India the day after Shortkut is released, that is the 11th of July. Then again I fly to South Africa on the 12th July to shoot for Anees Bazmee directed film No Problem which is my third Hindi film as a producer.
Any other Hollywood projects you are looking to be a part of now that you are based almost half of the year in the West?
Right now my focus is Shortkut. But yes, I am looking into few Hollywood films and television serials. Bollywood was always big down West but we have changed their perception of the cliché which they had for years and years; that our industry is just about 'song and dance'.