After having experimented with different genres of cinema over the years, Anil Kapoor is now all set to make the audience laugh with his next feature film, Total Dhamaal. He talks to Ananya Swaroop regarding the same and discusses his view on the changing face of comedy genre, working again with Madhuri Dixit Nene, challenges he faces as an actor and a lot more. Excerpts:
How was your experience of working with an ensemble cast this time around?
See for me, I have done a lot of large ensemble films. It is nothing new for me. Even for Ajay (Devgn); we have done a lot of films that had an ensemble cast. A very big film with an ensemble that I did was Karma more than 35 years back. It was a blockbuster. And I gained more from that film than I did from any of my solo films. So I feel, sometimes you gain more from such a kind of film than gaining from a solo film. Why you ask! It is because the film will get that kind of exposure where all of the fans of all the actors that you have worked with will also see you. And if they like you in that film, then the sky is the limit. So just like before, I enjoyed it in this film as well. Especially when it is helmed by a director like Indra Kumar, who's good at what he does and knows what he is doing, then it becomes a great experience. He has worked on the Dhamaal franchise and they got a great response. Dhamaal was fantastic, I loved it. The second part also did well. So this franchise has got that kind of value. Also, I feel everybody has worked really hard with a lot of positivity, so I think this film will be a big success because of that.
You're also reuniting with Madhuri Dixit Nene with this film.
With Madhuri, obviously it was so exciting. Matter of the fact is that just like the audience is excited to see us on the big screen, even we are excited to see each other on the big screen together. At least I am! We saw it already on the monitor during the shoots and it looked really nice for us to see each other, the camaraderie that we share, the chemistry that we have, the give and take of dialogue, all of this was fun to watch. I'm glad that we reunited for a hardcore commercial film rather than an arty film. I feel that we came back after 18 years in a good big commercial film. That's what I feel at least. The final decision would be of the audience, of course.
You have worked with most of the actors from Total Dhamaal before as well. Does that help ease the process of doing a film?
Oh yes, definitely. It makes a lot of difference. Why actors, even technicians. When you work with actors and technicians that you have worked with before then you get this sense of feeling safe and confident. As it is said, a known devil is better than an unknown devil.
In an interview, Indra Kumar said that you and Madhuri performed you stunts on your own.
(Laughs) See this is more about the adventure and we had very few stunts. It's an adventure comedy and for the first time, you will see a film like this being made on such a big scale. So stunts were very few. It was more like falling down and those sort of things. But of course, we did it with all the precautions taken care of. Having said that, it was obviously very scary. I won't call it fun but scary. We just tried not to look awkward. The idea of all these scenes was that it had to look that we have been doing it since childhood.
You have not done many comedy films. So what according to you are the challenges when you such a film?
Comedy should be well written. If the script is well written then our job becomes much easier then and there. I think this was a very well written film. The gags, the punches were already very well written. Otherwise, sometimes the director and writers expect us to make the gag. We do improvise but if the material is written well, then it becomes easier. So I feel the challenge becomes bigger if the writing is not good. Also, if the director has a sense of comedy and knows what works and what doesn't work then it becomes really easy. So with this film, it was well written and Indra Kumar, who in real life is also a Gujarati actor, has a good sense of comic time.
From Chameli Ki Shaadi to Total Dhamaal, how has the approach to comedy films changed, according to you?
I feel very fortunate that I have worked with these great directors like Rishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Chatterjee and writers like Javed Akhtar who have got a sense of comedy. Even Subhash Ghai, like if you see Ram Lakhan, it had few really fantastic comic scenes. Even Karma had a few good comic scenes. Also, Bapu Sahab whom I have worked with in Woh 7 Din and Basu Chatterjee in Chameli Ki Shaadi, so I think I have been very fortunate that I have worked with these geniuses and directed by these great directors. Even Beta had a lot of good comedy scenes. Then there was Krishnasaamy Bhagyaraj. You must not know who he was but he was a very famous screenplay dialogue writer from the south. I did a lot of his films that were adapted in Hindi which he had written originally. It became very easy for us to work on these scripts and make it in Hindi. He was a very talented man.
But how do you think it has changed now?
Obviously, it has changed in a way because people are now exposed to these international comedy shows that they keep on watching. Like Friends is a good comedy show. There are also these actors like Alec Baldwin who are very fine comic actors. They are comic but also very real at the same time. Now, you cannot look fake, you have to make it real. There is no space for buffoonery. When the comedy becomes situational then it becomes more fun. People like it. This film, you cannot actually call it a situational comedy but it is like a full package of punches, gags, dialogue, jokes very well weaved together that you get a screenplay also. So Indra Kumar has got his own different style and I'm glad I am part of this film.