Fit & Famous
IN A NO-HOLDS BARRED INTERVIEW, TUSSHAR KAPOOR GETS CANDID ABOUT HIS TRIALS ‘N’ TRIUMPHS IN BOLLYWOOD, TRANSFORMING INTO A HUNK FROM A LEAN BOY, ENJOYING HIS SINGLE PARENTHOOD AND MORE...
Huge entrance, plush interiors, uniformed domestic help… No, this is not a Balaji set. We’re at Krishna Bungalow in Mumbai, veteran actor Jeetendra’s residence, for an interview with Tusshar Kapoor. Dressed casually in black shorts and a tee, Tusshar comes down to the office room where we are seated, after putting his son Laksshya off to sleep. A hands-on dad, Tusshar’s day is now planned according to his baby’s schedule. After a big glass of water and some delicious chocolates, we start off our interview… Easygoing and warm, Tusshar speaks about being a star kid, his struggle to sustain himself in films, his transformation from a lean guy to a muscle man, his decision to be a single parent and more…
CHILDHOOD AS A STAR KID
For someone who literally grew up in the arms of the industry and was exposed to the glitzy life from a young age, Tusshar comes across as a very humble guy… “Everyone in the industry knows me since childhood. I was well aware of my father’s status and fame. But despite that, both Ekta and I had a simple upbringing. We went to Bombay Scottish, an ICSE school, with kids from all backgrounds. We have always had a very humble upbringing. “Today, Laksshya is already the paparazzi’s favourite but I want to give him as normal a childhood as I can.”
BUSINESS OR ACTING?
Growing up, Tusshar realised he was good at maths and accounting, but acting was something that naturally attracted him… “I went to the US for higher studies and also to figure out what exactly I wanted to do in life. The subjects abroad are wide, and I thought that will help me explore varied interests. For the first two years, I did liberal art and later on applied in a business school. But once I started studying there, I realised I was good academically but business is not my world. “I decided to take the plunge in movies, but I didn’t know which part of it I would be good at – behind the scenes or acting. So I became an assistant director to David Dhawan in 1999, and while I was working with him, I made some good contacts, who recommended my name to producer Vashu Bhagnani, who was then looking for a new face for his upcoming project. He came, met me and offered me the role.”
DEBUT DONE, BUT THE REAL STRUGGLE BEGINS…
While getting a foothold in Bollywood was not a struggle, giving hits and creating an image became tough… “My struggle started when I started shooting for the movie ‘Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai’. My director, Satish Kaushik, was very strict; he never pampered me just because I was a star kid. Though I took acting classes, I didn’t have any famous makeup artists or designers dressing me up. I learnt everything on
“EVERYONE IN THE INDUSTRY KNOWS ME SINCE CHILDHOOD. I WAS WELL AWARE OF MY FATHER’S STATUS AND FAME. BUT DESPITE THAT, BOTH EKTA AND I HAD A SIMPLE UPBRINGING.”
the job through a lot of trial and error when I started shooting. It was only in the second schedule that I actually started to figure out what and how things were happening. “After that, it was all surreal – releasing the movie and promoting it. Today, newcomers have it all figured out. They have their personal promotional strategies. “My first movie was a hit but I didn’t have a team to decide my roles and characters. I chose my roles based only on my gut feeling – some worked, some didn’t. I made mistakes just because I could not say ‘no’ to people. Also, just to have the image of a big actor and show people that I am continuously shooting, I took up all the roles that came to me.”
FLOPS MAKE YOU WISER
After a series of flops and disappointments at the box
“EKTA AND I HAD DONE A MOVIE CALLED ‘KUCH TOH HAI’, WHICH DIDN’T DO WELL. SO I DECIDED NOT TO DO ANYTHING TOGETHER SO EARLY AGAIN AS IT MIGHT NOT WORK AGAIN.”
office, Tusshar decided to take a break and do a film only if it really interested him. And after a long wait, finally, he gave a hit with ‘Khakee’. “I was lucky to be offered ‘Khakee’, a multi-starrer, by Rajkumar Santoshi. It was an interesting movie and I had a good role. After ‘Khakee’, came ‘Gayab’, and I was again shooting movies back-to-back. “Thereafter, Balaji was making ‘Kya Kool Hai Hum’. Riteish (Deshmukh) was already finalised for it and they were looking for another hero. Previously, Ekta and I had done a movie called ‘Kucch Toh Hai’, which didn’t do well. So I decided not to do anything together so early again as it might not work again. But there was pressure from Ekta; she said, ‘Just hear it and then take a decision. Just because one movie didn’t do well does not mean we don’t work together’. It was India’s first adult comedy. I read the script and said ‘yes’. And the movie was a hit!”
COMEDY, MY MAINSTAY
“After the success of ‘Kya Kool Hai Hum’ came ‘Golmaal’. And then came my shootout series (‘Shootout at Lokhandwala’ and ‘Shootout at Wadala’) and all the movies were released backto-back. So while I did a comic role in two, I played a gangster in the others. But I realised that I was beginning to build a fan base in comedy. “When ‘Golmaal 2’ released and I received much appreciation and awards for it, I realised that there is something about this happy space where families like me, and I am good at. So I
“WHEN I WAS TOLD THAT I WOULD BE THE FIRST SINGLE CELEBRITY PARENT (VIA SURROGACY) IN THE COUNTRY, I WAS SCARED BECAUSE WE ARE QUITE A CONSERVATIVE COUNTRY.”
decided to keep comedy as my mainstay, and don’t want to leave that now.”
TURNING INTO A HUNK
Fitness was something he was never into, but gradually, he got drawn towards it… “My weight always fluctuated when I entered the industry; either I was ‘fluffy’ or lean but never really had a fit body. In fact, I was always on the heavier side. I used to work out but not very intensely. After 2006, I got a new trainer, Pramod, who really made me conscious about my fitness, and I continue to work with him now. “I beefed up and looked tough with big muscles, and post 2014, after ‘Mastizaade’, ‘Kya Super Kool Hai Hum’ and ‘Golmaal 3’, I went into proper functional training mode. I have tried many different phases of fitness but I believe this is what suits me the best. “I have lean muscles which make me look fit and I love doing functional and high intensity training, as I tend to put on weight very easily. Functional training keeps my metabolic rate high and I enjoy doing it. I also love different kinds of cardiovascular exercises like kickboxing.”
A PRIVATE PERSON
“Even though I have been a media person, I like to keep my personal life private. I have been in relationships in the past but they have been short-lived and not anything that I could promote in the media.
GOING THE FAMILY WAY
The birth of Laksshya has definitely brought much cheer in the Kapoor family. Tusshar proudly announced the birth of his child in 2016 with the help of IVF and surrogacy… What triggered this decision? “It was a little difficult initially but once I decided that this is the way I want to move ahead, it was not hard. The paternal instincts in me have been overpowering my heart and mind. I was 39 when I became a father. I feel that was the right time for me. “Then, when I got to know that the baby will soon come in my arms and I have to announce it to the world, it was a little overwhelming and difficult for me. And when I was told that I would be the first single celebrity parent (via surrogacy) in the country, I was scared because we are quite a conservative country, and I didn’t know what kind of reaction I would receive. But I was pleasantly surprised by the love and support I got. I was delighted! “Friends, family, relatives, and specially the media have been with me in this unconventional path I have taken. Everybody deserves to have a family in any way they can. But chances of becoming a parent were reducing. I could be 50 or 60 when I would get married but I could not wait that long to have a child. The biological clock was ticking away. “Jaslok Hospital respected my privacy and the law, and everyone at the hospital helped us. As per the law, the process had to be very private; the hospital cooperated and did not reveal anything until we were ready to announce it.”
So does he believe in the institution of marriage? And is he still looking for a perfect match? “I totally believe in the institution of marriage; I believe living life, the traditional way.
I may have had a family in a very non-traditional path, but my values are still very middleclass. “All the same, I don’t believe that marriage is made for everyone, neither do I believe that every person needs to get married. Everyone has their own right to choose. Marriage will happen if it has to. Currently, my loneliness is fulfilled by my child.”
THE PERFECT WIFE
Getting a little more personal, we ask Tusshar what kind of partner he is looking for… “I have to be attracted to her, I don’t mean just by looks, but there has to be some chemistry, some spark. I want my partner to be intelligent, at least as intelligent as me. She should be a good human being, and entertaining to talk to too.”
Laksshya has always been paparazzi’s favourite. We ask him if that scares the little baby, and how comfortable is he around the cameras… “He does not understand the attention yet but he is very chilled out around the cameras. Besides, I am with him all the time so he knows that no matter what, papa is always there with me. He actually looks directly into the camera lenses…” “Parenting, however, is not hard for me… I just love watching every new thing he learns. I observe him play. I agree the process is very timeconsuming, and I have to plan my day according to my baby as I have no time to waste now.
“MY SITUATION AND THE DIFFICULTIES I WILL FACE WILL BE NO DIFFERENT FROM ANY OTHER NORMAL MARRIED COUPLE. I WILL BE AS INVOLVED AS I WOULD BE IF I WAS MARRIED.”
“MY PARENTS AND SISTER ARE ALSO AS INVOLVED AS I AM WITH LAKSSHYA, AND I AM HAPPY THAT FINALLY ALL THE ATTENTION IS NOT ON ME.”
In a way, his coming into my life has actually sorted out my time table. “I agree that there are some sacrifices to be made but it’s all good, and I feel more focused now. I feel empowered being a single parent, and not handicapped. “My main mantra is to value the time we spend with the baby as parents, and cherish those moments. Because the quality of time spent matters in boosting the confidence level of the child. “Right now, I am already worried about his school admissions, his future, what will be his aptitude, will he want to be an actor when he grows up or something else. I will be very happy if he wants to be an actor, but all that depends on him. My situation and the difficulties I will face will be no different from any other normal married couple. I will be as involved as I would be if I was married. Being a handson parent does not depend on whether you are married or not. “My parents and sister are also as involved as I am with Laksshya, and I am happy that finally all the attention is not on me.”
Li’l Tusshar with sis Ekta
With dad Jeetendra
With son Laksshya