By Subhash K. Jha Bollywood Hungama News Network
The American press has gone ga-ga over Anil Kapoor. The Los Angeles Times writes, "The most promising (actor) this season is Omar Hassan (Anil Kapoor), president of the Islamic Republic of Kamistan, who is negotiating a peace treaty with U.S. President Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones). He's regal and decent."
Says the Entertainment Weekly, "The dapper Hassan, played by the wonderful Anil Kapoor, who really should go by the name of Fantastic Sam because of his incredible head of hair..."
And the Hollywood Reporter just can't get enough of our Kapoor. "The best addition (to this season's episodes) is Anil Kapoor, best known stateside for his role as the "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" host in Slumdog Millionaire." He plays an idealized version a Middle East leader with an Elvis-style pompadour on the verge of signing a historic peace agreement. It's a painfully standard 24 part, yet he owns each scene he's in."
Anil Kapoor is known to be such a thorough professional. So why are his co-stars in his just-premiered American series 24 upset with him? Anil, you see, got invited on the prestigious Today Show where none of the 24 actors, not even Keifer Sutherland, has ever been invited.
Explains Anil, "You see, 24 is series by Fox. And the Today Show is on a rival channel NBC. No actor from a Fox show is every invited on the Today Show. I guess I was an exception because after Slumdog Millionaire I'm seen to represent the Indian diasporas in the West. It's a humbling place to be in."
And Anil is trying hard to be humble. When Anil Kapoor left for LA last week, he had promised his family in Mumbai that he would bring back four episodes of 24 which premiered in New York. But he came back empty-handed.
Anil laughs in embarrassment, "I had promised them. And I'm sure Fox would've given the episodes to me. In fact they gave the first four episodes to every journalist beforehand with a secrecy clause. So I could've easily asked for the same because my daughters Sonam and Rhea and my brother Sanjay were all keen to see my television debut. But I just couldn't ask. I was too shy. Can you believe it?!"
And now the only way Sonam and the rest of the family gets to see Anil Kapoor's debut on 24 is if they download the episodes. Says Anil, "I believe the episodes can be downloaded. Also 24 will be telecast on our channel AXN, but few months later. I think episodes featuring me would be telecast much sooner."
Anil, in fact, is making efforts to bring the series to Indian viewers simultaneously with the rest of the world. Anil is very happy with the way his television debut was received. "It was overwhelming. I made sure that the Indian media was also invited on the red carpet. The impact of my appearance on 24 is yet to be gauged. But I guess the show will add Asian eyeballs to the already-popular series. See, you've to understand television in the US is not the same as television in India. There're big stars on American television who have actually refused to do movies."
Anil is now committed to do a film or two in India. "I've a commitment with Ashtavinayak for two films. Indra Kumar and Apoorva Lakhia are working on two ideas which I really like. I may do one, or both depending on how the projects scripts shape up. But before that I've two films No Problem and Aisha as a producer. I need to concentrate on that."
As a parting shot I ask Anil how he manages to remain so fit at his age. "Aha! I was always lean and thin, much before it became fashionable. The secret formula is healthy living, positive thinking, no late nights and plenty of work."