Indian film star Anil Kapoor is in Australia for the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne. Photo: Paul JeffersMovie session timesFull movies coverage
Indian actor Anil Kapoor does not intend to rest on his laurels. “I’m still hungry,” he says. “For me it’s the most exciting phase of my life.” His plans include everything from a return to the stage to producing Indian movies for a global audience.
He is making his first visit to Australia for the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne, where his new film, Dil Dhadakne Do (Let the Heart Beat), is screening.
Kapoor has appeared in several international productions, including Mission: Impossible – Ghost Project and the TV series 24. In the eighth season of 24 he played Omar Hassan, the president of a fictional Islamic state. He then acquired the rights to an Indian remake, and appeared in the lead, playing the equivalent of Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer character. “It was the biggest challenge of my life,” he says. “It was a huge risk.”
Putting the project together was demanding, and he also had to take on a stereotype in India that movie stars don’t do television. For this new version, there have been adjustments for the sensibilities of an Indian audience, and new plot directions. The show had to be suspenseful for viewers who had seen the original series, he says.
He talks about how much he’d like to do theatre again. “It’s a goal for me. I’ve done it at an earlier stage of my life.” What’s holding him back, he says, is a combination of fear and time. The closest thing he’s had to a recent theatrical experience, curiously enough, was his international movie debut in Slumdog Millionaire, in which he starred as a manipulative quiz show host. The film was filmed digitally – by cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, who won an Oscar for his work on the film – and the quiz scenes were shot like theatre, allowed to run for 25minutes at a time. “It was great fun, and it meant that it was very, very seamless.
Kapoor is the first of his family to be an actor; his father was an agent and producer whose influence on his son took many forms. “He had such a great reputation for honesty and integrity, in spite of not being successful,” Kapoor says. “That was very important to me.”
He also provided his son with an incentive to become an actor. “He had trouble attracting big stars to his productions. The star system was very vicious in those days, very unprofessional and chaotic. So I said, let me become a star, so that my father does not have a problem getting stars in his films. That drove me.”
Kapoor’s children have followed him into filmmaking: one of his daughters is a producer and helps him run his production company; another daughter and a son are actors.
He remains involved in 24, dividing his year evenly between the series and film projects. He’s working as a producer on a version of Modern Family, and he’s keen to explore the possibilities of projects with companies such as Netflix and Amazon.
He’d like to be involved in more independent films; there’s a new wave of independent cinema in India, he says, and he’s keen to be part of that. He also thinks there’s potential for larger-scale Indian projects that can travel internationally. “There’s some phenomenal content in India, because of our rich culture, history and diversity. I would like to make India’s Lord Of The Rings … India’s Game of Thrones. And, of course, we can tell the stories of modern India also.”
A Q&A with Anil Kapoor will follow the screening of Dil Dhadakne Do on August 16, 8pm, Hoyts Melbourne Central.
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