In an exclusive chat with Firstpost at his Juhu bungalow, the actor talks about his long innings, new projects, films with his children Sonam and Harshvardhan, and his upcoming comedy, the family drama Mubarakan (releases 28 July) with nephew Arjun Kapoor.
How was it sharing screen space with your nephew?
There is mixed emotions of responsibility, stress and excitement. It is an emotionally professional kind of a feeling. That is the difference. But the advantage of working with Arjun is that we are very comfortable with each other.
Anees Bazmee has directed as well as written many films for you. Do you feel some comfort when doing comedies with him?
We have great work relationship and I would rate him as the best writer-director for comedies. From the time he narrated Laadla (1994), Deewana Mastana (1997), I felt he had the knack for comedy. Boney (Kapoor) had told Anees to convince me to do No Entry, which was the remake of a Tamil film, and when he narrated the film to me, I immediately said ‘yes’. With Mubarakan the script was ready, and I spoke to the producers to get Anees to direct this film.
There have been talks of No Entry sequel, No Entry Mein Entry for a long time now.
Yes (loudly). I haven’t heard the script yet but whoever has heard it has liked it. First it was supposed to be made with Salman but I don’t know what happened. I think that is one of the reasons it went on a back-burner. It will happen.
Are you saying that it will be made without Salman?
I don’t know. But I hope not; hope Salman does the film. I haven’t discussed with Boney or Salman yet. We have our relationships, our friendships. These are all professional decisions and I don’t want to interfere.
Do you feel the need to keep reinventing? You have been adapting to new formats and platforms?
(Laughs) Well, I am doing a film in which I am stuck in a time warp and I will soon get into that process and journey, called Fanney Khan (Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's film with Anil and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan). I am completely opposite to that character in real life. I just feel that I have been lucky and I have made the right choices.
My family, my friends, my filmmakers have supported me to reinvent. In certain professions, the older and senior you get, the better you become, whereas mine is a very fragile profession where it gets tough with time. Lot depends upon visuals, how you look. You have to take care of yourself and work that extra hard.
Acting is as difficult as, say sports. You need energy, physicality and mind. You have to keep reinventing and motivating yourself internally, externally and spiritually. I always say that Mr Amitabh Bachchan has fantastic mind. I also look up to international celebrities like Clint Eastwood, who does relevant films. He’s in his 80s, so I have 20 more years to go (laughs). I have met him. Then there is Tom Cruise who is so fit and agile. I take inspiration from these kind of people.
You have made your digital debut in an Amazon Original's sci-fi drama. What is happening on that front?
I have done the pilot for the show and they were supposed to tell me in April but they extended my option till July and now they have further extended it till October. They are still thinking about it, they don’t just jump into doing things. They value and respect your time. So if it is green lit, I will be doing that show, called Oasis, otherwise I will look out for something more exciting (smiles).
Is the process of selecting international projects any different from the way you go about in Bollywood?
There is combination of factors. Slumdog Millionaire just came my way, I was destined to do it. I made the choice of doing 24 series because I wanted to do television fiction. I did Mission Impossible to build relationships so that I get to work with the biggest producers of the world, which is Bryan Burk, J J Abrams, the Oscar winning director Brad Bird, and Tom Cruise.
Anil Kapoor in Slumdog Millionaire.
I might do an independent small budget film free if I feel I am going to be benefited. Sometimes it is tangible and sometimes it is intangible. It also depends upon on what stage of career you are. I am more like a newcomer in Hollywood, I am not a star. Sometimes I feel that I want to educate myself, grow, expand my exposure and understand the world. That is my attitude.
You have been in talks to work with son Harshvardhan and daughter Sonam in two different projects.
In today’s times, when you do a film there are too many layers and boxes to tick: the script, the studio, the budget. Talks are definitely on but it’s too early to discuss it. Fanney Khan is the first film I will start and I am really looking forward to doing the film. It’s a role completely opposite to what I have done in Mubarakan or probably in my entire career.
Mubarakan is light-hearted. I play British Asian sikh for the first time. I am a chacha (uncle) who still feels he is very young whereas in Fanney I am not shown that old but life, time and circumstances has made my character look and feel much older.
Your children must have learnt and prepared themselves from the ups and downs you have seen in your career?
Looking at others’ career doesn’t help, you learn from your own journey. They observe and learn but they still make their own mistakes and they have to learn from those mistakes. Hence I have never interfered in their career.
Has it become increasingly difficult for stars to launch their children?
It is always difficult to make a film for anybody and definitely more difficult with your own child and that is one of the reasons I didn’t launch Sonam or Harsh. They have done it on their own and that is why I am very proud of them. They were not benefited from me but instead I am benefited from them. I have gained from both of them.
I could make Aisha because Sonam was saleable, I could make Khoobsurat because people wanted to buy the film. Harsh pushed me to take up Slumdog Millionaire and Dil Dhadakne Do. His debut film Mirzya didn’t do well but somewhere he has been accepted. Otherwise why would anyone want to make a film with both of us?