Anil Kapoor
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Anil Kapoor: Family has been my priority

By HT

He has been a part of Bollywood for over 35 years, but Anil Kapoor seems to be getting younger, if his unabated energy levels are anything to go by. The actor, who recently shot for the pilot of a show that will be streamed online, is also preparing to work with his nephew, Arjun Kapoor in Mubaraka.

“I love my work and I take it seriously, but not myself. However, if I commit to something, I will give it my 100%. Besides that, I don’t consider myself a genius,” Kapoor says, while speaking about his life, career and kids.

You are doing so many things. How do you manage your time?

Everyone can manage their time. I decentralise things and give responsibilities to Rhea (Kapoor; daughter), Sunita (Kapoor; wife), Harshvardhan (Kapoor; son), and my managers. I have a few trusted people in my team, so I don’t interfere. I don’t get into everything. Some people are control freaks, but I am not. I trust people and I have good people working for me.

Do you think that there is a rush to work in the West now?

There is no rush. There are just job opportunities. When you have open doors across the world, then why not? There is nothing wrong about that. One should be open about it. Some people secretly want to do it, and they are doing it too, but they hide it. But there are also people like Sonam, who are honest. She wants to [do it], and if it happens, it happens. She has always been an honest and straightforward person.

Now that Harshvardhan is also an actor, do you take time out for him?

Of course. I am there for all my kids — Rhea, Sonam and Harsh — whenever they need me. I am just a phone call away. That’s my priority, and has been for quite a few years. In fact, I had initially said no to the new show, because I had to complete 24, and Harsh’s film was going to be released. So, I wrote to my director, and said, ‘I have to let it go’. So, I had said no to the biggest opportunity of my life. But they were kind enough to change the schedule. A few of my close friends told me, ‘We would have rushed through 24 episodes and Harsh’s film would have released anyway’. But I said, ‘You can do that; I can’t’. Family is my top priority.

Do they ask you for advice?

Yes, whenever they want to. And why shouldn’t they use my experience? But whenever they want to take their own decisions, they go ahead with it. So it’s not like they do everything on their own, or do everything after consulting with me. There’s a good balance.

You have shot for the pilot of a show that’s based on the novel, The Book of Strange New Things. How was the experience?

What motivates me is that I have never done this before [an online show]. And I am working in a language that isn’t my first language. That in itself makes me uncomfortable. I am working with new people, and the environment is also different. So, you’re not in your comfort zone. At one point, I wouldn’t understand a lot of the dialouges in English films (laughs). I am just a boy from Chembur. I am not delusional. It’s nerve-wrecking for me, and that makes me work harder. It gives me the opportunity to become a newcomer again.

It’s rumoured that you asked Salman Khan to mentor Harshvardhan...

I would love to talk to Salman, as he is a friend, but aisa kuch nahi hai [the rumours are not true]. I haven’t met him for a long time now. I last met him at an awards show, which happened before Mirzya’s release. There is nothing wrong about the rumour [if it is true] and I am not ashamed of it. Why just Salman? I would talk to anybody. Salman wishes my family well. If the rumour was true, I would have said yes, but it’s not. Harsh hasn’t met him, though he is keen to. But everybody is so busy. Also, there is already a very experienced person in the family (laughs).

How do you manage to juggle between different mediums?

I look at them as learning experiences. I did 24 and whatever I learnt, I used it when I was producing the same show in India. It [the online show] is science fiction; a genre that I wouldn’t understand earlier. When I saw Star Wars (1977) and Space Odyssey (1968), I wasn’t fond of them. But now, I am totally into it. In fact, I’m revisiting all those films.

What advise did you give Harshvardhan after his film didn’t do well?

Sometimes you work hard, put your heart and soul into a film but it doesn’t do well, but then there is another side to it. Since you have worked so sincerely, you will, at some point in life, get the benefit. So my advice to Harshvardhan is to be at it, and that’s already inbuilt in him. He’s working for his next [film]. Failure is bound to happen to anybody and everybody. And I think failure teaches you much more than success, especially at such a young age.

As a father, were you hurt about Mirzya?

Not at all, I have seen so many days like these. Some people ask me, ‘How’s Harsh?’ I say, ‘He is rocking’. He is from a film family, wherein his father and sister have seen successes and failures. But when you go through it yourself, you respect and understand so much more. But he has been accepted [by the audience].

Do you plan to rope in Harshvardhan in any of your home productions?

There are two scripts and one is ready. So, I have given him a hint, but since everyone is a professional these days, he said, ‘Dad, I want a script first’ (laughs). Hopefully I will give him the script in a month’s time. It will be a commercial, mainstream film and not anything arty (laughs).

Are you ready to work with your children?

Every time a producer comes and wants to cast Sonam and me together in a film, she says, ‘I am not doing the film with dad (laughs)’. But Harshvardhan is very cool about it. He wants to do a film [with me]. In fact, there is a film that has been pitched to us. Sonam doesn’t want to [work with me] but I will [work with her] one day (laughs).

With the upcoming awards season, there are talks of a clash between Sonam and Alia Bhatt...

If you watch Neerja, you will see that everybody — be it the director or the actors — got things right. There are certain films that automatically turn out well. But you can’t say anything about awards. I don’t know what’s going to happen next month but till now, that’s the only film [this year] that I feel has worked out almost perfectly. Honestly, there are always surprises in life and then you just laugh and smile about them.