‘I don’t want to lose the high of being an actor’

Mumbai, Maharashtra, 13/06/2018: Sanjay Kapoor at his residence for the interview of the Lust, his new film for Netflix as well. Photo: Soubir Ghosh   | Photo Credit: Soubir Ghosh

If you hadn’t seen the trailer for Lust Stories before catching the Netflix omnibus, Sanjay Kapoor’s entry in the Dibakar Banerjee short comes as a surprise. For a long time, he is just a disembodied voice that you can’t place a face to. Kapoor tells us a funny tale about how his filmmaker friends Zoya Akhtar and Karan Johar were perturbed by not seeing him on screen for the first ten minutes. “Lagta hai Sanjay ka role kaat diya (seems his role has been chopped off), they told each other,” he laughs. Ironically, the character-building begins with the voice itself, the delayed entry helps in making the performance stand out. His believable, rough, chauvinistic yet vulnerable cuckold act in a tale of betrayals and infidelity has made people take note. In quite the same way as he managed to catch the audience’s attention — despite being in the midst of a huge ensemble of immensely talented actors — almost a decade back as filmmaker Ranjit Rolly in Akhtar’s Luck By Chance.

Chance encounters

The Lust Stories role fell in his lap quite by chance. Banerjee was having a meeting with his casting team at The Club in Andheri, which Kapoor frequents to regularly work out. “They saw me and that was it. I got a call from Dibakar in the evening and the next day I was doing the look test,” he says.

Kapoor hasn’t seen the film yet when we meet at his sprawling Juhu apartment. But he is visibly excited, beaming away at the appreciation he has been gathering — from a friend like Akhtar to Nawazuddin Siddiqui, an actor he admires. He is flying out to Los Angeles later that night for a family holiday before which he also has to go for the film’s premiere. “I will be watching the full finished product today… I can’t even tell you how much I am looking forward to it,” he says.

Agreeing to do the short is what Kapoor looks back as a something of a “no-brainer”. “I didn’t need to be convinced about the story or the character,” says the actor. “I was convinced with the director [Banerjee] himself.”

A see change

Having been born in a Bollywood family (son of producer Surinder Kapoor with Boney and Anil Kapoor for siblings) Kapoor made his debut 23 years ago in a very mainstream love story, Prem. His first taste of the new, atypical Bollywood ways was with Luck By Chance although it was more a fun film, not in the same vein as Banerjee’s intense short.

He likes the changes these films have been ringing in, how they are making things “comfortable” for an actor than just pandering to the stars. “The professionalism that has come in now is so wonderful,” he states adding that he also likes the fact that such set-ups are helping break the age barrier, offering opportunities that were not there before for actors over a certain age. “At this stage, when you wonder ‘now what’, you manage to get such a role. All you have to do is feel that you are still good enough, that you have lots to offer. Age is just a number,” says Kapoor.

Waiting and watching

In an interview once he had spoken about being a late bloomer. “I get everything in life but there have always been hurdles. But I get it eventually. Better late than never,” he smiles. What has stood by him is that fact that he is a patient man and that he “never sold his soul”. “After all these years you will still find a freshness in me,” he says.

For him a unique aspect of working with Banerjee was the number of workshops Kapoor had to participate in. As an actor he found them incredible in making him stretch his limits. “They made things easy,” he remembers. “When I was finally shooting on set I had done everything possible already.” They also helped connect, share a comfort level with his co-stars — Jaideep Ahlawat who he had never met before and Manisha Koirala who he had worked with so long back that it was almost like starting afresh.

Did he identify with the character in any manner? “Not so much identity, I'd say I could believe in that character,” says the actor. He still recalls the loose fit of the clothes, the simple “1500 rupaye wale joote”, getup which was not that of a star. “The minute I got into the outfit and walked in I just felt like that character,” he says.

Kapoor was required to be at the shoot even when he was not in a scene. “You can’t imagine how much I had to work at the dubbing when I am just the voice on screen…,” he smiles, still quite enamoured of Banerjee’s thought and vision that went a long way in shaping his performance. “That’s why it is known as a director’s medium. Every actor is different with a different director,” he says.

The best compliment he has got for his performance is that it was so real that it didn’t feel like a performance at all. “The best performance is that which the audience doesn’t notice, to do nothing is the most important thing,” he says, adding that such “casual” acting is the most difficult to pull off. Any cribs? “It was a fantastic experience but got over too quickly.”

Where does he go from here? Another short called Bedhab. And, hopefully to better, more interesting roles, whatever be their length or the platform — web, TV or big screen, long or short. But he also realises that finally he will have to choose from what he gets. He says, “Lust Stories has opened an avenue… There is a high of being an actor. I don’t want to lose that.”

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2021 4:23:05 AM |

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