What's Age Got To do With It?

They scaled the Ever­est at 48, ran a marathon at 54 and found love at 61. Here are some amaz­ing sto­ries of peo­ple who dared to chase their dreams when the world said it was too late

Hindustan Times - Brunch - - FRONT PAGE -

Anil Kapoor has played an in­vis­i­ble man in Mr In­dia (1987), a good-guy-gone-rogue in Tezaab (1988) and the love­able idiot in Ram Lakhan (1989). He’s won a Na­tional Award, sev­eral pop­u­lar tro­phies and has been that rare thing: a dar­ling of crit­ics and the masses. He’s been a hero for 36 years and starred in more than 100 films. You could say he’s had a full ca­reer al­ready.

But at 52, when most ac­tors think of re­tir­ing, play­ing dot­ing daddy here, age­ing ty­coon there, Kapoor de­cided to change the game. He signed up to play a smarmy, un­like­able game-show host in Danny Boyle’s Hol­ly­wood

film Slum­dog Mil­lion­aire (2008). The film picked up the Best Pic­ture Os­car, won Kapoor a Screen Ac­tor’s Guild award and opened up a whole new world for him. A key part in Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble —

Ghost Pro­to­col (2011) fol­lowed, along with a whole sea­son on the hit Amer­i­can show 24.

Kapoor is mod­est about his late-stage plot twist, and at­tributes most of it to “be­ing at the right place at the right time.” But for some­one who has been in Bol­ly­wood since he was 23 (act­ing first as a lead­ing man, then a char­ac­ter ac­tor), break­ing into a new in­dus­try, pre­sented some un­usual chal­lenges. “In Bol­ly­wood, if you are a lead­ing ac­tor, you’re only good in patches in a movie. You know you’re there in ev­ery frame, so you think if you don’t give your 100 per cent in one scene you can make it up in another,” he ex­plains. “In Hol­ly­wood, you only have some three scenes. And you have to get no­ticed in them. I started treat­ing my three lines of di­a­logue as 300, and be­haved like a new­comer, just cram­ming all the time.” The one-two-ka-four star would sit with his dic­tion coach for five hours ev­ery day, pol­ish­ing his work. “When you are not the lead­ing man, it’s nerve-wrack­ing. And that was my big­gest fear at this time. I just didn’t want to mouth the lines. I wanted to give them lay­ers. My coach be­came my sound­ing board.” Start­ing from scratch made him more alert, says Kapoor. “Af­ter years of act­ing on au­topi­lot, it made me more fo­cussed and alert. I started en­joy­ing the art of act­ing.”

Kapoor re­gards his Hol­ly­wood ca­reer as a dream come true. He says the smartest of all his de­ci­sions was to “shed his ego”. “I have al­ways had longevity in my mind — I am like a marathon run­ner, not one who runs a 100-me­tre dash. You should do what you have to do be­fore any­one tells you to do it. They shouldn’t be say­ing ‘why are you still danc­ing like an ac­tor?’” De­spite the hard work that went in pre­par­ing for his Hol­ly­wood roles, Kapoor doesn’t for­get to credit his in­ter­na­tional suc­cess to his Bol­ly­wood train­ing. “They are shocked at how well we deal with emo­tion as ac­tors,” Kapoor says. “Be­cause as In­di­ans we are so much more ex­pres­sive and have so many lay­ers, so we can play so many char­ac­ters.”

The cam­era­man for 24 once walked up to Kapoor and told him that he was like a clas­si­cal singer. “He said ‘I can tweak you how­ever I want. You have all the highs and the lows per­fect’.”

Kapoor is show­ing no signs of slow­ing down in Hol­ly­wood or on home ter­ri­tory. He re­cently played the up­tight Pun­jabi fa­ther in Zoya Akhtar’s hit Dil Dhadakne

Do (show­ing off sil­ver hair for prob­a­bly the first time in his ca­reer).

He also made a guest ap­pear­ance on the an­i­mated Amer­i­can TV show Fam­ily Guy, and is prep­ping for the sec­ond sea­son of the Hindi ver­sion of

24. He’s also work­ing on an In­dian adap­ta­tion of the crit­i­cally ac­claimed sit­com Mod­ern Fam­ily. “The key to re­main­ing rel­e­vant is to just keep mov­ing on. I don’t re­mem­ber any bad patches in my ca­reer, be­cause be­fore I knew it was a bad patch, I was on to the next film. I never look back.”

‘‘Af­ter years of do­ing it on au­topi­lot, I started en­joy­ing the art of act­ing”

Anil Kapoor broke into Hol­ly­wood at 52, when most of his peers were play­ing pa­pas in Bol­ly­wood

Photo: VIJAYANAND GUPTA; Anil’s wardrobe: SS HOMME (Jacket), THE KOOPLES (Trousers), SS HOMME (Tie), PRADA (Shirt), RAGHAVEN­DRA RATHORE (Pocket square)


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