Small-Town Kid Grows Up, Now Tries to Raise the Bar for Acting in Bollywood
By: Neha Sarin-Malhotra
February 24, 2011
Just like Hollywood, Bollywood, too, is home of everyday people from small towns dreaming big and ultimately finding mainstream success in a major film market. Hindi actor Annu Kapoor, who most recently portrayed a police inspector who fell for the murderous woman he was investigating in 7 Khoon Maaf
, is one such success story, growing up in a small Indian village before setting ablaze a film and television career now entering its fifth decade.
With major titles in his filmography such as Mr. India, Udaan, Om Jai Jagdish, Raincoat, The Fakir of Venice and, as of last week, 7 Khoon Maaf, Mr. Kapoor may be best known as host of the popular singing-themed reality television show, Antakshari. A huge believer in numerology, Kapoor was blessed to start his career in 1979 in a film helmed by leading Indian director Shyam Benegal.
Mr. Kapoor took a few minutes out of his day and spent it chatting with Buzzine’s Neha Sarin-Malhotra. Check out what he has to say about his roots, his career, and the people he enjoys working with:
Neha Sarin-Malhotra: You are from a small town. How did cinema enter your life?
Annu Kapoor: I saw my first movie when I was seven or eight years old. I still remember riding a bullock cart and traveling to a nearby small town named Sonkachch from Gandharvpuri in the central state of India MP. It was a mythological film, Kan Kan Mein Bhagwan, meaning “God is Omnipresent.” The cost of a ticket was six paisa, and this was my first introduction to cinema. I saw makeshift cinema halls in village fairs and was never allowed to watch anything else other than children's movies or a movie which my mother thought was decent. Thus, I could never see Sangam or few other successful Indian movies. What mother thought and decided, we obeyed; it will certainly look primitive, but this is the way I was brought up--with high moralities, values, ethics, and responsibility toward the nation and society.
NSM: Do you feel that your potential has not been explored yet? What role would you want to play, if given a chance?
AK: No, I don’t think my potential has been explored yet. I have much more to offer in terms of the kinds of roles I get. I would love to play complex and multidimensional roles which are not monotonous in nature.
NSM: You have worked with a series of directors. Who do you admire the most?
AK: There is no one particular, but I really enjoyed working with Shyam Benegal, Mrinal Sen, Girish Karnad, Shekhar Kapoor, Ketan Mehta, Priyadarshan, and Vishal Bhardwaj.
NSM: Who is your favorite actor, and what film of his/hers do you admire the most?
AK: I have never believed in favoritism, yet I have watched a few great performances by Marlon Brando, F. Murray Abraham (Antonio Salieri in Amadeus), Dilip Kumar, Moti Lal, Amitabh Bachchan, Jessica Lange, and few more.
NSM: You were an integral part of Antakshri, and you made it big. Did you enjoying singing?
AK: If music be the food of love, play on, give me excess of it.
NSM: You know how to study your character thoroughly before playing it. What kind of research/preparation do you do before playing the part?
AK: As per the standard, an actor needs to understand the charter scheme of a role in the particular script and work on the physical appearance of speech and gestures, etc., to create and make a character personify, but ironically, in hindi films, generally we have to do stereotype roles--the roles who don’t have much depth, and the roles aren’t well-defined. But still we manage, sometimes using the gallery playing method, sometimes using a fictitious method to create a character.
NSM: Did you anticipate that Antakshri, an interactive show like that, would make it so big? Why do you think it saw so much success?
AK: The instant identification with the audience. Its simplicity. It was a truly Indian concept--a game which people of India have been playing for 3,000 years. It is not alien; it's not imported.
NSM: You play one of the seven husbands in 7 Khoon Maaf. What is your role like?
AK: I am her fifth husband. She becomes my second wife. Inspector Keemat Lal is a police inspector who has been investigating all the murders related with Susanna’s husbands. The inspector himself falls in love with the lady and marries her, and reaches his final destination, like others.
NSM: How did you become a part of the movie?
AK: I read the script and instantly liked it. Interesting script, good role, brilliant director and producers made me part of the movie.
NSM: Vishal Bardwaj is a very talented director. Did you enjoy working with him?
AK: Every moment, I enjoyed working with him.
NSM: How is Vishal on the sets? A tough taskmaster?
AK: Yes, but he is a "calm and cool" tough taskmaster. But I am also a hardcore professional with (more than 30) years of experience, so it was really fantastic.
NSM: How was your experience working with Priyanka Chopra? Do you think she was the right choice for the film?
AK: Very good experience with her. She was the right choice among the present lot of commercial film heroines.
UTV Motion Pictures' '7 Khoon Maaf' is released on February 18, 2011.