A man for all media

As his latest film Jolly LLB 2 releases today, veteran actor Annu Kapoor continues to juggle cinema with television and radio in order to fully explore his creativity

Huddling around a television set to watch Antakshari was a popular weekly affair for families in the ’90s. Counted as India’s first tryst with reality television, the musical game show wrapped up after a 13-year-long run. In these years it turned its host Annu Kapoor into one the most recognised faces in the medium. After the closure of the show, the actor put the void to creative use by producing content across mediums like cinema, radio and television. In the courtroom drama, Jolly LLB 2, that releases today, the actor plays a shrewd high-profile lawyer and the adversary to lead actor Akshay Kumar. The film is a sequel to the 2013 movie Jolly LLB and satirises the proceedings of the Indian legal system.

Selection criteria

“I’m not getting any younger,” says the actor who is on the cusp of turning 61, and unwinding at his farmhouse in Badlapur. Jolly LLB 2 comes five years after Kapoor won the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor for Vicky Donor (2012). In the interim, he was seen in movies like The Shaukeens (2014), Jai Ho! Democracy (2015) and Badlapur Boys (2014). “Beggars can’t be choosers,” says the actor who has three criteria while selecting a role. He first looks at the script, then the character scheme, which is the placement of the character in the script, and lastly the paycheck.

According to Kapoor, the Hindi film industry makes commercially viable projects, not films that justify a script. “Unfortunately or fortunately, the industry couldn’t typecast me because of the way I look; I’m not a hero or a villain and can’t fit in as a comedian either,” observes Kapoor. Citing examples of Dilip Kumar as the tragedy king and Amitabh Bachchan as the angry young man, he says that actors have often benefitted from stereotypes. However, following the success of Vicky Donor, the actor has noticed a surge in diverse character-driven roles coming his way. “But this concept coming to the main pipeline will take time.”

Hands full

Kapoor is known for his professionalism on the sets and forthrightness with the media. “I’ve never been bothered about my equation with anyone. You speak your line; I speak my line. That’s it,” says the veteran actor on being asked about his experience of working with Akshay Kumar. “He charges ₹50 crore, I don’t even charge ₹ 1 crore. That’s the difference.”

The actor seems to have his hands full with acting assignments. He is looking forward to the revival of the dark comedy, The Fakir Of Venice, which has been stalled since 2008. “The film was supposed to be Farhan Akhtar’s debut film,” informs the actor. Kapoor will also play a role in his sister Seema Kapoor’s directorial venture, Mr. Kabbadi, starring the late Om Puri.

Kapoor isn’t limiting himself to the silver screen alone. His radio show Suhana Safar with Annu Kapoor has completed four years on 92.7 BIG FM. “I also have a small production company where we produce TV serials and documentaries.” Although deeply involved in the entertainment business, the actor says he doesn’t watch films or television shows himself.

As part of his pursuit for creative liberation, Kapoor is planning to re-enter the filmmaking space. He has been looking at three scripts for his directorial venture but won’t be acting in it. “I’m not stepping into the field of filmmaking just because I couldn’t find my dream as an actor,” he says. “It’s not out of frustration”.

Recalling the time when he won the 42nd National Award in the Best Children’s Film category in 1994 for his directorial debut Abhay, Kapoor finds the process of filmmaking more creatively invigorating. “An actor’s vision is very limited to photographer’s frame and director’s vision and comparatively a director’s vision is much wider.”

Reviving the past

Still deeply affectionate about the show that brought him immense fame, Kapoor has been striving to make Antakshari rise from the ashes. “I want thousands to get nostalgic.” He says content on television caters to younger audiences, leaving little for the older lot to look forward to. “You can’t forget senior citizens like me,” says Kapoor, who produced the TV serial 40plus for DD National in 2015 targeted at older viewers.

Ruling out politics

If these enterprises weren’t enough to keep Kapoor on his toes, he says people often advise him to join politics. “I’m a good speaker but that doesn’t mean I would make a good politician. I’m committed to be a patriot but not politician.”

Keeping his future plans aside, for now the actor is waiting to see how his latest effort fares with the audience, while enjoying the fresh air rustling through his farmhouse.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 11:24:04 AM |

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