Shekhar Kapur wanted to be India's Simon Cowell, but couldn't be

By Radhika Bhirani

New Delhi, June 24 (IANS) When internationally acclaimed filmmaker Shekhar Kapur agreed to judge the reality TV show "India's Got Talent", he hoped to be the Indian counterpart of American TV show judge Simon Cowell. But soon he discovered that he simply "couldn't be as harsh".

"I had never thought about judging a TV reality show. But when this show was offered to me, I thought it could be a chance for me to become India's Simon Cowell. I was excited, but on the second day of the shoot itself my dream was shattered," Kapur told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

While Cowell is known to be extremely blunt and forthright in criticising contestants on the show's "American Idol" and "Britain's Got Talent", Kapur realised he "couldn't be as harsh".

"My interaction with people in India has mostly remained confined to a certain section in urban areas and not so much with people from rural areas. Now when I got a chance to interact with them in whatever little way that I could through the show, I couldn't have hurt their aspirations," he said.

Kapur has made his mark with films like "Bandit Queen", "Masoom" and "Mr. India" and earned international recognition with "Elizabeth" and "The Four Feathers".

He will now be seen on "India's Got Talent" starting Monday on Colors channel where people will showcase their talents in various fields, be it dancing, singing or acting.

Bollywood actors Sonali Bendre and Kirron Kher will be his co-judges.

Not only has he witnessed a melange of unique talent on the show, he is also hopeful of using some of them in his future films.

"I have come across some amazing composers who create fusion music. I also met some rap and hip-hop artists. But I was really impressed with performers from Orissa who dress like Krishna and perform something that looks like as if it's come right from the popular 'Broadway' musicals - their performance is amazing. I am quite inspired by these artists and might use some of them in my movies," Kapur said in an excited tone.

Besides the show, Kapur is also keeping busy with his movie projects.

While his much-awaited "Paani" in collaboration with Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle is currently in its last stage, Kapur is also excited about short films.

"I just finished three short films. I feel they are very exciting as a format. In 12-20 minutes you say what you want to and then these short films are also finding huge audiences everywhere.

"Looking at it practically, it takes one-and-a-half to two years to make a feature film and by the time you are ready to release it, either you or the subject becomes outdated. So I am enjoying doing short films," he said.

Kapur is also in discussions for a few Hollywood projects. However, he refrains from talking about that as he is under contract until December.

(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at radhika.b@ians.in)

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