Anil Kapoor on awards, life in films, and beyond in a freewheeling chat with Rana Siddiqui Zaman

He is known for his spontaneity with words. On the stage, except for pausing to put on and take off his dark-rimmed glasses, he impresses the audience with his anecdotes, hardly reading from the paper he carries with him. He seems to believe in impromptu speeches and does a fine job of it. All smiles, he says, ?You lose spontaneity if you read from a paper. I jot down the points, and look at them now and then.?

This is Anil Kapoor for you. Even at 52, he has the agility of a child and the open approach of a youth. He was hence the main attraction at a recent function in New Delhi organised to announce an IIFA charity cricket match in association with the Sri Lankan Cricket Board in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka hosts the IIFA awards this year, from June 3 to 5.

Anil is all praise for the ?transparency and integrity? of the IIFA awards. ?When the IIFA approached me nine years ago with the idea of an award function, I didn't take it seriously. They had chosen me for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in ?Taal' and Best Actor in a Comedy Role in ?Biwi No 1'. I didn't go to receive the awards but saw the ceremony happening in London on television. Not only was I surprised at the way it was organised, I was also given the award, despite not being present at the function; usually what happens in award ceremonies is, if you don't go to receive the award they don't give it to you at all. Being an actor I know how difficult it is to bring big actors together on one platform, which the IIFA does.?

?Awards? ? Anil does not mince words ? ?aren't taken seriously by the film fraternity any more. Yet actors attend award functions either because they don't want to be spoilsports, or they want to keep pace with the changing times, or for the sake of solidarity and friendship. Now most of us understand that money issues are involved. So ?they' have to bow to certain money houses. There is still some disillusionment among us about awards.?

Award or no award, Anil says he works to the best of his ability. He agrees the Indian film industry is youth-oriented and hence good roles suitable for his age don't come easily. But there are other ways to ?whet one's creative appetite?.

He says, ?I produced ?My Wife's Murder' and ?Gandhi My Father' to keep the creativity in me alive. The films didn't do well at the box office but were critically acclaimed. So, when my film ?Slumdog Millionaire' got 10 Oscars, I thanked God for, I felt I was well compensated. After its success, Paresh Rawal told me, ?You deserved this global exposure'. Similarly, ?24' (the longest running American action thriller on espionage on television by Fox Network and syndicated worldwide) in which I have played Kamistan President Omar Haasan, got me recognition even in the remote areas of Portugal, Armenia, Japan and Argentina. When people from these areas see me, they say, ?Hello, Mr. President, we love your work.' It humbles me. What else can I ask for??

The humility helps. Today, when journos ask him about his daughters Sonam and Sia and their film careers, he says: ?I feel happy. This is the only relationship where there is no competition. Parents always want their children to become more successful than they are.?

Coming up

His forthcoming films ?No Problem? and ?Race 2?, he says, will ensure his visibility. ??No Problem' will be the biggest success of this year for, it is hilarious. I play a cop who believes he is tough but always goes wrong in whatever he does. It has Sanjay Dutt in a comic role. After ?Welcome' and ?No Entry', this is my third film with Anees Bazmi. I am reading the script of ?Race 2',? he concludes with a smile.

Keywords: Anil KapoorIIFA