Roshni Olivera (BOMBAY TIMES; July 25, 2017)

In his four-decade-long innings in the industry, he has given innumerable hits and many memorable performances. But what makes Anil Kapoor's Bollywood journey different is the fact that he is still raring to go, giving younger stars stiff competition. In a candid chat with Bombay Times a few days before the release of 'Mubarakan', AK talks about his longevity in the industry, the choices he has made in life and the lessons he has learnt from his children. Excerpts:

You've been in the news for 'Mubarakan' as well as other things. Recently, there was strong buzz about Sonam's marriage and that you wanted her to tie the knot with her beau, Anand Ahuja. So, is she getting married sometime soon?
(Laughs) When it comes to marriage, it will always be their decision, whether it's Sonam, Rhea or Harsh. Anyway, there's no such thing happening right now; whenever it has to happen, it will and it will be her call. Likewise, in the case of Rhea and Harsh, whenever they want to get married, they can and if they don't want to get married, that too is fine. Times are such that commitments cannot be made in a rush. You have to feel that it is the right time for you to take the plunge. It may be tomorrow or yesterday. My children are private about their personal lives and we don't ask them anything. Their friends, girlfriends and boyfriends are all welcome to the house. It's an open home for everyone. I have told my children that there is no pressure on them, par jo bhi karna hai, chupke mat karo. Give the other person more respect than you give yourself.

There's news that Harshvardhan and you will share screen space in the biopic on Abhinav Bindra. Wouldn't it put a lot of pressure on your son, given that there would be comparisons?
It's not the right time for me to speak about the film. It's too nascent and commenting too much takes the magic away from it. About the two of us acting together, I think those days are gone when people would say, 'iss film mein baap-beta saath mein hain'. Now, the audience is only interested in a good film. And there's no pressure; everybody is sensible enough to understand this. At least in my family. We are a film family, we don't sit and strategise, things have happened to all of us on their own. I feel when it comes to careers and life in general, you can use your sensibilities while making your choices, but you have to let things happen organically. What's in your control is the insane hard work, commitment, integrity and professionalism that you bring to the table.

Going by his choices, Harshvardhan seems like someone who likes to take the road less travelled. On the other hand, you have been rather conventional in your career choices. Do you get tempted at times to advise him?
Actually, Harsh is a lot like me. My first film as a leading man was with M S Sathyu; in my second film when I was in my 20s, I played a professor. In my third film too, which was with Mani Ratnam, I played a rather unconventional role. Looking at the films Harsh has done, it seems like he is focussing on being an actor. You are an actor first and if God is kind, you become a star. My idea was to be an actor and that's how I first pitched myself. I think that's one of the reasons for my longevity. Also, where is the need to advise Harsh? He has worked with the best. Even if a film didn't do that well, nothing could be better than 'Mirzya' for Harsh or 'Saawariya' for Sonam. Every frame of both the films is amazing; the performances, the nuances, the way the actors are presented... it's a great show reel to have.

Would you agree that your children are quite vocal in expressing their thoughts while you have been fairly diplomatic all your life?
They are doing the right thing. I wish I was more vocal. They are in a situation where they can do it and they should, because we are living in a democratic country. In my case, in those days, my priorities were different. I had to buy a home, I got married, I had to look after my family and had to shoulder other responsibilities. But a time will come when I will be much more vocal than these people. I will be, I promise.

You are quite attached to your nephew Arjun Kapoor. Did 'Mubarakan' bring the two of you closer?
We've shared a close bond since he was a child. He was always talkative and got along very well with almost everyone in the family. When this script came to me, I said let's pitch it to Arjun. I picked up the phone and told him that he should hear the script and then the choice was his. That's exactly what I would do with Harsh or Sonam, too. Creatively, it has to be their call. Kuch upar neeche ho gaya, then they should not come and blame me (laughs).

You said Arjun is talkative. Between the two of you, who spoke more on the sets?
Nobody can beat him! But seriously, I was very impressed with Arjun's comic timing, commitment, work ethic and his knowledge of cinema. When you spend so much time together, there's a certain bonding that happens. We know each other really well now.

You were recently photographed dressed in a rather colourful attire. Are you giving Ranveer Singh a run for his money?
Ranveer and I share a great rapport. As a kid, he would be part of Rhea and Sonam's birthday parties and I remember he was the first kid I saw with a mohawk! That's when I got to know that he is related to Sunita (wife). Coming to the dressing part, I think Ranveer has a lot of fun with his clothes. You can get away with anything if you back it up with good work and talent. Dressing is an art, everyone can't do it. There is a lot of thought that goes into it. Sonam has her style, I have mine, Ranveer has his own style. Sometimes it comes very naturally, like Rhea might not like dressing up, but she is fantastic at putting things together since childhood.

You've done a range of films in your career spanning four decades, but is there something that you feel you have missed?
Not an iota. I feel nice, there's a good feeling. I would like my next life to also be exactly like this one.

There's one thing everyone gets amazed by — your longevity in this industry and the fact that even today, you look as fit and fab as you looked many years ago. And I'm sure this question never leaves you...
My longevity is due to a combination of so many factors. I also believe in destiny, in the universe, in the power that supports you. My wife always jokes that I have this Chembur native intelligence. I may not be highly educated, but I have always been open to learning and have learnt with experience. It's also the choices I made in films. In every decade, I took the right decision about the films I did and looked at things objectively rather than being delusional. Sometimes, people get delusional and get stuck in time and they hope to recreate the same magic. I just move on.

Coming to my looks, I am asked this question very often but I believe that you have to be grateful for every positive word spoken about you. When I am asked what I do to maintain myself, I answer the question and then add, 'but there is more to me than that'. It's strange that during my initial days, people would say, 'Yeh fantastic actor hai, par looks nahin hai'. And now, when I am actually doing the best work of my life, people can't stop talking about my looks (laughs).

We heard that there is 'Mr India 2' with Sridevi on the cards...
I am very lucky that way. There is 'Mr India', 'No Entry', 'Welcome', 'Nayak.'.. there are so many of my films, which can be made into sequels if they are done correctly and with the same kind of commitment.