By Hindustan Times
They met for the first time in Los Angeles on stage, when Tom Cruise presented Slumdog Millionaire (2008) with the Best Film Award at the Golden Globes. Anil Kapoor told Cruise then that he was a household name in India. Their second meeting was in Prague, on the sets of Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol (M:I:4).
“You never know where destiny is going to take you,” marvels Kapoor, impressed with the way Cruise doles out professional tips to younger stars like Will Smith. “And on the M:I:4 sets, Tom and the director would go to every Anil Kapoordancer and junior artiste, before and after pack-up, and every four hours while shooting, to thank them for their patience and for being a part of the cinematic journey. It’s amazing to see such sensitivity!”
Kapoor’s thrilled to be a part of franchises like MI and 24 that have such huge fan bases. “24 got me appreciation; not just from top critics and TV viewers in Middle America, but across the globe, including India where city youngsters are hooked on to it,” he beams.
He admits that TV has a huge reach and while not KBC 4, he’s been offered a couple of reality shows. But he’s thumbed down the offers. “As a host, I’ve gone all over the world in 70 mm. But for Madhuri (Dixit), I’ll even go to Denver for a reality show. I wish some director would come up with a great script and cast us together.”
For the moment though Kapoor is enjoying the company of three sizzlers — Sushmita Sen, Kangna Ranaut and Neetu Chandra. He’s confident his home production, No Problem, will be Sen’s comeback film and a career turnaround for the seriously intense Ranaut. “Kangna has a certain goofiness that is unexpected. I was surprised at how well Sushmita and she got along. That’s not the case with heroines usually. They come together with the whole cast for a song in the climax, Mast Punjabi… It’ the baap (big daddy) of all item numbers,” he promises.
Many believe No Problem is No Entry 2? “It’s not,” he retorts. “The script of No Entry 2 is being developed. But No Problem completes the trilogy that began with No Entry (2005) and Welcome (2007) but it’s bigger than both of them. No Entry 2 and Race 2 should happen next year, alongside M:I:4, Tezz and Power. We’re also planning to launch two more home productions, helmed by my daughter Riya.”
That’s ambitious considering that Aisha didn’t live up to expectations? “It went beyond expectations given that it was India’s first chick film with an ensemble cast,” argues Kapoor. “It has already earned Rs 23 crore on an investment of Rs 14 crore. Since Aisha and I Hate Luv Storys, Sonam’s (daughter Sonam Kapoor) fan-following has increased tenfold.”
Well, Abhay Deol’s not impressed and determined not to do any more films that are more style than substance? Kapoor retorts, “In my 33-year career, I’ve seen many actors speak out at the wrong time and regret it later. It’s better to pick up the phone and talk it out than go to the media. Abhay will be fine and will know better in two-three years.”
Rishi Kapoor, who’s been in the industry as long as him, is also upset with Sonam and Deepika Padukone for running down his son, Ranbir, on Karan Johar’s chat show? “What’s said on Koffee With Karan is to be taken lightly and sportingly,” Kapoor insists. “In 33 years, actors from Boman (Irani) and Ritesh (Deshmukh) to Saif (Ali Khan) and Shah Rukh (Khan) have made fun of my hair, face and dancing at award shows. I’ve never retaliated. These young people will also hug, make up and work again soon.”