Anil Kapoor on nephew Arjun, daughters Sonam and Rhea, son Harshvardhan, and Sonam’s beau Anand Ahuja
Meena Iyer (MUMBAI MIRROR; June 21, 2017)

He may have blown out 60 candles on his last birthday on December 24, but AK is still one of the most dapper stars around town. He admits he never compromises on fitness and even after four decades, acting gives him an adrenaline rush. At his office, he lets his guard down…

Heard you are the architect of Mubarakan, your next....
Well, the script came to me when no one was on-board. They even had another director in mind. I instantly said “yes” and told the producers Anees Bazmee was best suited to direct it. Anees and I have done films like No Entry, Welcome and Welcome Back, family entertainers with terrific recall value, and as a writer he’s penned Deewana Mastana and Laadla for me. Once he was on-board, the project became more attractive.

Meanwhile, a few young actors had declined the film. Youngsters today are scared of this genre but in my opinion, madcap comedies are a great way to connect with the audience, cutting across age groups, social strata and cultures. I took on the onus of speaking to my nephew Arjun Kapoor. I had never called him for a film in the past and even this time I told him to only accept if he was convinced with the script. He is my bhatija (brother’s son) but I didn’t want him to make an emotional decision. Fortunately, he loved his role. Now, I hope the film works or both Anees and Arjun will bash me up.

We hear that on set you were competing with Arjun…
Absolutely, on a set I make concessions for no one. If I were to think, “He’s my nephew, he’s like a son” that would hamper the film. We are professional actors who had to excel in our parts. I really want this film to work because it is special for my family. My mother and Arjun’s grandmother will be watching it and I’m sure she will be rooting for both of us.

So no chacha-bhatija bonding happened?
Frankly even when we were exercising together, I was competing with him. (Laughs) That’s the way I am, I keep myself motivated that way. From the time he was a toddler, I nicknamed him ‘chachu’ because I was afraid he would end up calling me that. And I didn’t want that. But now though I still call him chachu, Arjun refers to me as Anil chachu.

How do you manage to stay so fit; which fountain of youth are you drinking from?
I have always worked hard at keeping myself fit. I do not compromise on my gym routine nor do I indulge in food and drinks beyond a point. For me fitness is not about a perfect body, it is an internal process. I’m not a multi-billionaire but I’m happy with what I have. I love the way Sonam has handled her career — barely 20 films in 10 years. I like my younger daughter Rhea’s conviction in the kind of movies she has chosen to produce. I’m sure Harsh will chart his own course.

Would you say you are more ambitious for your son than you are for your daughters?
Never, they’re equals as far as I’m concerned. Besides they are far too independent for me to nurse ambitions for them. My kids come to me for advice but then do exactly as they please.

What is your equation with Sonam’s boyfriend, Anand Ahuja?
It is not my place to speak about Anand, that is entirely Sonam’s prerogative and I have not known her to speak about her personal life. All I can say is that Anand and I are both private people and the bond we share is too personal for me to discuss with the media.

How is it sharing your home with two other actors?
Ours is a family of five and we have three actors in it. Acting is a demanding profession and it can be difficult at times, but for the most part it is exciting. Actually, credit should be given to Sunita (wife) for keeping us grounded. She and I have been together for 43 years; she has handheld me and prepared me for most situations — both happy and sad.