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Survival Instincts

As Shilpi Dasgupta’s Khandaani Shafakhana releases, veteran actor Annu Kapoor talks to Bhavi Gathani about the taboo subject of the film and his journey in the entertainment industry over four decades

You have been in the industry for almost four decades and have been an integral part of some rather notable films. How do you look back at your journey today?

I would not say that I have been an integral part of good films. For me, films were a medium of survival. With due respect to everyone, I did not come here for any passion, I came here to fill my stomach. I had a good academic career. If my parents had money, I would have done IAS. But it was a compulsion for me. I had to join my father’s theatre company as my brother suggested me to do so.

But the thing is, I have been going on here with dignity. Na main gira na meri umeedon ke minar gire, haan mujhko girane mein kai log baar baar gire - I believe in this. I am sure you wouldn’t have heard anything negative about me. You won’t ever get to hear it. I have my own thoughts and ethics and they have come from my own experience, study, contemplation and observation. I like to share those thoughts with people around me.

How, according to you, has this industry evolved with time in terms of talent and content?

This industry is a byproduct of the society. Whatever changes have come in the society, the same is reflected in this industry. As the political media emerged with time, we started getting ‘outspoken’ films. Earlier no one had even thought that they will make a political film. But today we are coming up with so many political films. Even when the Censor says something, people go to the Supreme Court to oppose the Censor’s decision. India as a democracy has evolved with the progressing time. The same change you will get to see in the film industry.

Other thing that has changed is the emergence of technical aspects. Internet, YouTube and social media platforms has provided wide exposure to the villages far away due to which their perspective and thoughts have also widened. This is the reason why 20 years ago, the person who used to hide the fact that he is homosexual, today goes out in processions to ask for his right. This is how people have become outspoken.

Also, people have started making films on different subjects. Especially after films like Khosla Ka Ghosla and Vicky Donor did well at the box office, people started getting encouraged that they can come up with new and interesting subjects. That’s quite an amazing change that has happened.

If we talk about Khandaani Shafakhana, can you throw some light on your character?

I am playing a cameo in the film. My character is that of a lawyer. Khandaani Shafakhana is the first film of Shilpi Dasgupta, she is from Bhopal and it is produced by Mrighdeep Singh Lamba. They asked me to do the role and I did it. To everyone who is related to this film, I wish them all the best and wish they get tremendous success.

Vicky Donor and Khandaani Shafakhana are made on the subject of sex, which is considered a taboo topic. Do you think giving a comical tone to an otherwise serious issue helps convey the message better?

I don’t consider Vicky Donor a comedy at all. I believe that if that film was made as a comedy, then it would have turned out to be a disaster. It was dependent on Shoojit Sircar and me on how to treat this film. We treated it with a lot of seriousness. Vicky Donor was about sex but the film has been treated so beautifully and maturely. It was also well connected with a love angle thrown in.

Even we at Annu Kapoor Films Pvt Ltd, are making a web series on sexuality. It’s not a comedy at all, it is an original piece of work. I don’t think anyone could have made a film with the approach that I have taken. No one can make it even now. It needs intense research.

You became a household name with Antakshari and you have also done theatre. Any plans of going back to being a storyteller in those mediums?

One such project is going to come soon. I have already done its pilot shoot and it will soon come to you, it’s a very strong concept. You also know about my radio show, Suhaana Safar. It has completed six years and is still on the top. 

On what basis do you select your projects?

The script and the role should be good enough and the money should be good. I have never earned money with wrong methods and I won’t ever do that. I have my own principles and rules and I never go beyond that.

What are your upcoming projects as an actor?

After Khandaani Shafakhana, I have two upcoming films Chehre and Dream Girl and apart from that, I am going to sign another film Khuda Hafiz whose director is Faruk Kabir. It is based on a true story. The two pivotal characters, the hero and I, both are completely real characters. I have heard that they are shooting in Uzbekistan for two months. I play a local taxi driver in the film and because of my character, the hero’s problem gets solved. 

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