“WE ARE CUT FROM THE SAME CLOTH, THE SAME DNA” — Anil & Arjun Kapoor
There is magic in the air, in fact, you can actually sense an amazingly tangible vibe full of vigour, positivity and excitement. And it all seems to be emitting from the magnetic dynamo who walks into our midst. …And the man is none-other than the legendary Anil Kapoor. In fact, even after four decades in the industry, his passion, intensity and enthusiasm for any and every subject under the sun is incredibly infectious – be it talking about the painful bursitis in his left leg or the film he is currently extremely excited about – Mubarakan. Incidentally, there is a casting coup of some sorts here as both Anil and his incredibly goodlooking nephew Arjun Kapoor are co-starring for the first time in this film – that too, Anil as a Sardar and Arjun, in a unique double role. Stardust too manages the same casting coup by putting both these incredible actors on the cover. And hence I am at Anil Kapoor’s house waiting for his super hot nephew Arjun Kapoor to arrive. Arjun, one of the most talented and happening younger stars in the Bollywood circuit, walks in looking suave, fresh, and rarin’ to go. But before I can even start the interview, the chacha-bhatija duo start an animated discussion about the many nuances of dubbing their film. Wow! Such passion and intensity… indeed there is a unique energy that the Kapoors bring in along with them. …And the chemistry between Anil and Arjun is crackling and so alive. In fact, they both sound equally vibrant and passionate, and with that in mind, my interview unfolds. Read on…
Anil, you look fresh and vibrant, and so very passionate about your work. In fact, you could give any of the younger stars a run for their money. What is the secret? Anil: First of all, I would like to thank you for saying so. There are three or four things that I believe in. Firstly, nothing can replace destiny. Kismat ek bahut badi cheez hoti hai. For instance, I’ve been very fortunate that I have almost completed four decades in films. And each decade, kahi na kahi, mujhe aisi koi film, ya aisa koi co-star mila; or a director, content, producer… that clicked. And I was lucky and fortunate that I was a part of those films. And unki wajah se, mai bhi aage badh gaya. So then what happens is that you keep on getting these kind assurances, support, success, positive feedback and appreciation so that gives you the energy and the injection to keep moving on.
The chemistry between the two of you is wonderful. What kind of bond do you share - a chacha bhatija kind or is it like friends? Arjun: If you give it the name of chacha bhatija, it is what the world sees us like. I would say, genuinely, it’s more friendship and more banter. As a relative, I’ve grown up admiring him, and he is protective of me, rishtaa utna toh hota hai… But then when you work in the same profession, there’s an entirely different interaction. So when I became an actor, of course, I started interacting, asking questions, discussing films more with him. But when you do a film together, you actually become naked even in front of each other. Kyuki camera ke saamne you are not Arjun Kapoor, or he is not Anil Kapoor. Chacha- bhatija hat jata hai, then you become the character. That’s when you see the purest side of your relative, which you might not have seen before. It’s a new dimension you get to see. Its like humne suna hai Anil chachu aise karte hai, waise karte hai. And now I see that for myself. In front of the camera, I got to see the person that he is, the hardwork, the passion… We actually got more comfortable with each other. We both got to know each other better. And even after 30 years of knowing each other, we discovered more facets to each other which is a very rare thing between relatives, or friends or family or anything. So, now I know what he is saying, why he is saying... We can look at each other and get a sense of things better. That’s a rarity. Because normally, they say, don’t mix your personal and professional life. But I say, bahut accha hua hum dono ek saath iss film mein the.
Did you two disagree or were there any uneasy moments with each other in terms of your character or role? Or any powwows on the sets? Arjun: That’s normal na, agree and disagree. But aisa kuch major nahi hua aaj tak. We’ve disagreed, had conversations and then everything was fine.
Anil: Professional ke saath saath, the kind of people we are… There is a thin line between being totally professional and being emotional also. We come from the same DNA. First my grandfather - Arjun’s great grandfather, my father, my brothers… So there is a certain kind of DNA in us where we are not cut-throat professionals. We are emotional too. We can get a little hurt, upset, emotional, sulk… and it shows. Hum log us kism ke hai, humari family jo hai, ki kahi na kahi humara emotion dikh jata hai. Unlike others, we are not diplomatic - bahar se kuch aur hai andar se kuch aur hai. Seedha seedha pata lagta hai.
We can get a little hurt, upset, emotional, sulk… Arjun may say, Chachu, I’m going.’ Or I’ll say, ‘Arjun, this isnt right.’”
Arjun, interjects: Set pe dikh jaega. Aisa bhi nahi ke kamre mai jaake.
Anil: He’ll say, Chachu, I’m going.’ Or I’ll say, ‘Arjun, this isnt right.’
Arjun: Woh dikh jata hai. But in a certain way, I feel, that’s good. Rather than wasting time on politics and peeche kya ho raha hai, humhai emotional. Hum seedhe bol dete hai ki yeh aisa lag raha hai.
Are you competitive? Like in terms of while acting together, more so as it’s the first time you both are acting together. Arjun: Competitive is a wrong term to use. I’ve always felt that what he has achieved is at a different level. What am I even trying to compete with? Look at him! Even if you want to compete with, compete with your own range na - apni aukaad mai competition hoti hai. But on hindsight, I always feel that I am more ambitious than competitive. See, I want to do well. I want to set my own foundation. I want to do good for myself. So I am selfish from that point of view. I don’t check what the other person is doing. What he is doing, I want to do as well, I want to do better. But with him, in a very selfish way I feel to be working with him, I stand to gain more out of it. Because I get to learn so it is enriching. In fact, by working with him, I’ve already won the battle if you look at it. For me, my excitement was that I know Anil Kapoor, the actor, onscreen, Anil Kapoor, the chacha offscreen, but I’ve never seen the transition in front of the camera or off camera. For me, I was not looking at it as competition. How can I compete with my own blood? But my greed was very different. He’s always told me… you should absorb from everybody, learn from everybody, absorb everything. The world around you will give you so much that you have to tap into it. And I’ve always noticed that he’s surrounded
If you give it the name of chacha bhatija, it is what the world sees us like. Genuinely, it’s more friendship and more banter.”
himself with people that he can learn from. He’s always paid immense attention to the craft. For me, that excitement was doing a film like this with him. I was waiting for the correct film and I didn’t want to do an intellectual kind of film about our relationship. I wanted to see the core of what defines Anil Kapoor, the star. His energy, his front-footedness, his ability to make scenes funny on his own, to hold his own self. So for me, it was like going to school. So why would I be competitive about something like that?
Anil: Now Arjun has told you what he felt, now I will answer this. For me, my greed was what I can absorb from a youngster. At times what happens is that when you are surrounded by people only of your generation, there is a stagnancy. So when I work with the younger lot, they come with a certain kind of energy, freshness and you take their energy. See, there is no way that I can compete with his physicality or anything. Nature doesn’t allow me. I am not superman. I might be looking fit or energetic but I have to accept that I will never have this kind of a physicality of a 30-yearold. And I listen to his ideas, ke aisa karte hai, waisa karte hai, that energy... I see he is working and interpreting things. So the new, freshness is what I gain from him. And with every generation, there is always something new that one can learn. This is what I have always learned. So, if you see when I did Dil Dhadakne Do, I have gained a lot from the people around me like Ranveer, Anushka and Farhan Akhtar. They are much younger to me. So I got that energy from them. So, when you see the picture, mujhe unse kaafi seekhne ko mila. Likewise, in this film too, I have learnt from Arjun, the young writer who’s written the film, the producers are young, Sony team is young - this is the first production of Sony, you know, major production. So I learnt so much from them.
A bit about your film Mubarakan? It has an interesting buzz…. Anil: So Aneez Bazmi (the director) and I have worked together.
I believe, 10 films? Anil: Yes. But this is not the kind of Anil Kapoor-Aneez Bazmee film that you’ve seen in the past. It isn’t an easy genrere at all. It is a very Sooraj Barjatiyaiya type of film directed by Aneezeez Bazmee. And you’ll be surprised, there is a strong message also.
Arjun: It’s like My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It’s No Entry meets Sooraj Barjatia. It’s a family version of NoEntry. As it has emotions.
Anil: There is a mix of youth in this film. Toh usme yeh alag touch hai. But nayapan bhi hai isme. And that’s what I have always done in my career… done something new. What I am trying to say is that if Arjun had a selfish way of looking at things, so did I! I look to learn the way he is approaching his work because he is from this generation.
Arjun, adds: We are actually cut from the same cloth. The way I am approaching Mubarakan, he’s approaching it in the same way,
What I am trying to say is that if Arjun had a selfish way of looking at things, so did I!”
regardless of how many years apart our careers span. Anil: I think to myself, yaar, yeh kaise approach kartahai, isne double role kaise kia hai? When I see the the interaction between (Arjun’s characters) Charan and Karan, I’ve done four double role films, Bulandi, Kishen Kanhaiya, Yudh and I’m missing out on one film. But these kind of shots, I’ve never had in all these films. Technically, this film has got much better finesse than all the double roles that I have done. And my greed is that… Mujheusse fayda ho gaya ki yaar, I am part of a film where I am surrounded by young, fresh, new people. In this film, I worked with Remo for the first time. Toh mujhe laga, Remo works with Tiger Shroff. And I’ve worked with Saroj Khan amd Kamal dance master. Even I want to work with these young choreographers. And I did! So for me, I gained so much. So, it’s a mix of energies. The content, the technique, the visuals, everything...
Arjun: I think inherently, hum dono same insaan hai. We are cut from the same cloth, the same DNA, the greed of doing great work… and this is not about competing but absorbing. And actors need to be selfish about learning all the time. He still is, at this point of his career. And I being a new Kapoor also look at things in the same way. That ideology in the family is to work with good people and to keep working... Har set pe jaake to learn something more.
Who’s a better dancer? Anil: See, I’ve accepted that I play the character better than I dance.When I first learned dance, it was with Shammi Kapoor’s first wife, Geeta Bali. I was from a very small suburb of Mumbai, Chembur. And my father used to work with Shammi Kapoor. So for summer holidays, we used to go there. So, two subjects were there in my acting school - one was playback and the other was dance. So, I am good in playback - that is how you convey songs because Hindi films is all about music. But I am not a dancer but I used to get top marks in playback. Usme agar thoda bahut dance hai, toh woh mai apne hisaab se, apne character ke hisaab se karunga. So whatever dance you’ve seen of mine is the character. But I was never a dancer.. That’s why I have never done a dancing film as I am not a dancer. I’ve, in fact, had major showdowns with choreographers on the sets. In my head, I see this character can’t dance this way. Yeh gaon se aya hai, yeh kaise aisa dance kar sakta. So I will do what my character demands.
Arjun: But he’s got his own style which is iconic. In my case, I enjoy dancing but I don’t try to be the best dancer. I enjoy dancing for the situation of the film. Even as a kid, I enjoyed dancing. But being an actor, you get to learn so much more along with acting. Like in Chokra Jawaan for example, Habib sir choreographed the song keeping in mind ke mera character aise nachega. See, some steps look good on you, some steps don’t. Some steps you can do better than others and some others can do better than you. You have to be honest to what your talent is and make sure every song contributes to the film and it’s not about showcasing your talent all the time.
But you, Arjun, are considered to be a very good dancer. Anil: Definitely, he is a better dancer. I accept it! Anil, was it difficult evolving every decade? Anil: …That you have to, to keep on going. Fortunately for me, I have gained a lot from being around Sonam, Arjun, Harsh, Rhea, all of them and their friends. So our home is now filled with all kinds of people coming in. There was a time when there was only one set of people coming in, my connections. Ab, I am interacting with everybody.
Anil, you’ve paved the way to Hollywood… Anil: It has helped me tremendously. It broadened my horizon as we are in a very isolated place. The world is a much bigger place which even in every business in India, people are now realizing. Everybody has to think larger.
What about you Arjun? Are you planning a tryst with Hollywood? Arjun: I don’t think people plan Hollywood. It happens organically with your body of work which allows you to get the correct film. It is supposed to come from there. Director Danny Boyle had seen his body of work and knew that he could do that. Maine abhi toh shuruaat ki, paanch saal hue hai. So, I want to create my foundation here. I love the kind of work happening here. I think the material and the filmmakers involved in India at this point is amazing. Let me do good work here. Let me build on the foundation with the audience who have liked me for the past five years. Aap pehle Hindustaan ke logo ke dilo mai samaoge, tab jaake aap pure duniya ke bare mai sochoge. Your ambition cannot be to touch the top floor first. You have to climb the first, second, third floor, firjake you can reach the top. But you have to keep building your foundation.
I’ve accepted that I play the character better than dancing.” — Anil Kapoor
Anil: Like Dev Patel suited the role in Slumdog Millionaire. Uska face correct tha, he was the right person for the role. What is that, destiny na? Firwohkaamkartaraha. And then he got Lion. If he had not taken care of himself or not worked hard, he wouldn’t have got it.
Arjun: Genuinely, I am sitting in a position which is enviable and people would cut their right arm to be in the situation, when they are getting films like Half Girlfriend, Mubarakan, Gunday, 2 States. You are doing PAN India films. You are connecting and it resonates to the entire country. 99.9% would want to be in this position. My endeavour is to make sure not to let that down first. The journey has been amazing! If you had asked me in 2012 before Ishaqzaade released, I would’ve said, I just want to do the film. That was the extent of my ambition.
And now? Arjun: Now the ambition is to keep up the work that I’ve been doing and the quality of work. And the amount of love I’ve got is insane. In my life I didn’t think that I would travel across the country and meet people who would take photos with me or would want to meet me. In London, we were shooting - I’ve been to London five to seven times before but I’ve been a regular guy and walked around the streets and all. This time when we were shooting - it was the first time after becoming an actor - there were people coming to me and saying, ‘ Arey, we loved you in this film’. And these people don’t know me. It’s the most amazing feeling in the world.
But you are considered as one of the most talented actors… Arjun: Exactly! But that comes from purely the love of the audience. When I did Ishaqzaade,
Like Dev Patel suited the role in SlumdogMillionaire. Uskaface correct tha, he was the right person for the role.”
Aditya Chopra toldold me, ‘ Kaam accha karo. Looks ke baareaare mai mat socho. Tu accha kaam kar. Agar tu yeh picture mai accha kaam karegaega na toh baaki sab theek hojaega.’ And hee was bang on! Because the film was not a designed newcomer film. It was actuallyally the anti-thesis - It was actually on the linesines of Mashaal. Again after that, when I did Ki & Ka, so many women cameme up to me and said ‘thank you’ for doing thee film. You never know how your work affects and connects with people. They likee you in TheKapilSharma show or Koffee With Karan… there is so much happeningg that people like and enjoy. When they connectect and say, this guy is entertaining, whathat more do you want?That’s one of the reasonsns why I did Mubarakan.
Anil, you have so many actors in your Kapoor familymily – you, Sridevi, Arjun, Sonam, Harshvardhan… Boney ji is a producer.oducer. Would you ever do a film with everybody in the family? Anil: It all dependsnds on the material of the story.
Do you have anyy message for our readers? Arjun: Thank youu for the love and having us back on Stardustdust again. I couldn’t have been happier.ier. I’ve grown up reading Stardust and seeingeing him (Anil) on Stardust. Its quite cool. It is an achievement as an actor that you getet to share the platform with someone which you have grown up seeing. The excitementtement for Mubarakan is amazing. We haveve made a family film, for family, with family.ily. Take your families and go watch our familymily film!
Anil: I feel Stardustdust has been an entertainer throughout the years. It isn’t intellectual. And, like Magnaa Publishing has an array of magazine like Stardust,tardust, SAVVY, Society that bring all kinds off different genres which are entertaining.. We have also tried to give different things in the film. So saarediye hai!. So our film has everything, emotion, drama and action.n.
I am sittingitting in a position which is enviable andd people would cut their right arm to be inn the situation”