Interview : Anupam Kher

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Anupam Kher has always been known for his versatility. Be it as a film or theatre actor, anchor, director, or mentor of his acting institute Actor Prepares, he leaves his mark in whatever he does. The multi-talented man speaks to our correspondent on how he manipulated his destiny.

Did you think of becoming D-Anupam Kher 25-26 years back?
No chance (smiles). You see the dreams keep changing. It’s not the question of making it so big, but 25-26 years back, I never thought of reaching this stage where I am today.

Whom will you credit for your success today-your dreams, destiny or talent?
See, I am a dreamer. That’s how I am into films as well; not just because of my talents. Because when you are born in a small town, you only dream.

At this stage of your career, is there a particular actor you want to work with?
Since my early days as an actor, I always wanted to meet or work with two international cinema legends and by some quirk of faith I managed to work with Woody Allen (in YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER) and met Topol within one year. I met him last year at an international film festival in Israel;

“I always wanted to be different”

it was a dream come true! It is an honour to meet Topol whose FIDDLER ON THE ROOF is just like a textbook for all the aspiring actors.

We spent a quality time discussing world of cinema. I didn’t know Topol was a close friend of Raj Kapoor. They met on several occasions. Topol said he saw a lot of himself in Rajsaab. He (Topol) flooded me with his questions on Raj Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan (laughs).

So, did Topol’s play inspire you with your one-act play ‘Kuchh Bhi Ho Sakta Hai’?
Strangely, we didn’t know much about one another’s work but to our surprise, when we met, we discovered both Topol and me had been doing a one-character autobiographical play for years. Topol’s play ‘Life Of Lazslo’ has had numerous shows all over the world. Luckily so has my one-actor play ‘Kuch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai’. We promised to watch each other’s play in the near future.

Coming to ‘Kuchh Bhi Ho Sakta Hai’, is it really based on your own life?
Yes, this one-man play, sometimes sad, sometimes comic, often inspirational, is a sketch of my own life. It is the journey of a man who should have been a failure; but he manipulated his destiny and forced it to make him a success.



Having acted in almost 400 films, which is that one performance that is most dear to your persona?
I will again say, it’s ‘Kuchh Bhi Ho Sakta Hai’. All of us are in search of success and so, we are terrified of failing. ‘Kuchh Bhi Ho Sakta Hai’ liberated me from the fear of failure. It also made me connect with people and taught me that failures can be stepping stones to success.

While all actors talk about their successes, you have recounted your failures in such detail…
I always wanted to be different. When you come from a middle-class family, you can’t be different, except that you excel in something. When I went to the drama school, there also I wanted to be different and did all kinds of theatre productions. I used to get up at 6 o’clock in the morning to do my voice training. When I came to Mumbai with Rs 31 in my pocket, nobody thought I can do a film like SAARANSH. People thought I will be stuck for the rest of my life as an old man. But then I did KARMA, AAKHRI RAASTA and so many different films. So at this point of my life, when people wanted me to pen an autobiography, I decided that I should be the first actor in the world to write his autobiography on stage.

You want to say failures never affect you negatively?
I am a very people-oriented person. I can handle failures, disasters…because I know there are ups and downs…I try to look at life from a funny point-of-view. But sometimes I get depressed when people turn their back and people’s perception about you changes.

Let’s talk about the highs…
I have always felt on a philosophical note that life itself is a high. That’s why I have survived and am still surviving in the industry even after 25-26 years. Every day 500-600 people come to Mumbai to make it there. But even after all my lows; I will still be talked about for the next 25-26 years, if I continue what I am doing right now. The highs have been that my best works happened during the low phases of my life. For example: ‘Kuchh Bhi Ho Sakta Hai’. I think it’s one of my finest works as an actor on stage.

Your acting school-Actor Prepares-completed five years last month (February). What made you start an acting institute?
You don’t have an international standard acting school in Mumbai.

You were not impressed by the existing ones?
I don’t want to pass any judgement on them…so many of our actors have gone there. I’m sure they are teaching so many things and doing their job. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t open the kind of school I want to start. Actor Prepares is a boutique kind of an acting school. And I can teach well…I used to teach acting before coming to Mumbai.

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