It's amazing how age has failed to wither Anil Kapoor. Not only has he been a major star for over 25 years, but he's also somehow held onto the status of action-hero and sex symbol (from Jaanbaaz to Musafir to Race) into his almost-50s.
Few actors of comparable age and fame command such pay packets, respect or are held in such esteem by Bollywood producers. Excerpts from an exclusive interview with the actor whose hard work and 'Tashan' has helped him win the 'Race' and 'Welcome' the crowds.
With last year's multi-starrer debacle of Jhoom Barabar Jhoom and Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, do you think in 2008 Yash Raj Films needs a bit of good luck?
You are forgetting Chak De India. But you can't predict the box office result of any film. The film should entertain and people should like it. It's up to the critics to give the stars, but the true results will always be measured by the honest opinion given by the public.
With scripts like Dhoom and Dhoom 2 to his credit, Vijay Krishna Acharya has proved he can write... and write well. Do you think he will create ‘dhoom’ in his debut film Tashan?
If Tashan clicks, then 'dhoom machale'. If it doesn't, then 'doom machale'. No matter what the fate of the film, I can vouch that he is a good writer and an even better director.
We've always noticed that Yash Raj Films have remained quite secretive about their story line. They don't like to give anything away. Would you like to give away something?
The promos are out, the posters are on the walls, the stills are out... so there is nothing secretive about the film. I feel that the strategy we had in the 70s and 80s should be implemented sometimes, where nothing was seen of the film except for some photographs. Aditya Chopra and I discussed this. His strategy for Tashan is to let the people discover for themselves what the film is all about.
Akshay Kumar, Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor and you are coming back to the action genre after a sabbatical. Do you think audiences have forgotten this genre in the midst of romance, comedy and family entertainers?
Whenever a good script comes your way, no matter what the genre is, it will always click. But definitely people are receptive to everything now. People are bored with romance and family melodramas. Give them a bit of Welcome, Chak De India, Race and Tashan and see the difference.
Is it right to say that Anil Kapoor has the Midas touch. What's going to happen with Tashan?
I hope Tashan is bigger than both Welcome and Race and I pray that it is an even bigger box office film. But if it doesn't, I would still not regret it.
In the film you speak broken Hinglish. Is it difficult?
It is something I've never done in the past because it's not purely south Indian, not purely Punjabi and definitely not purely Hindi. I am keeping my fingers crossed that my fans will accept me in such a role, so that I get a chance to repeat it whenever an opportunity arises in the future.
What's so good about playing a bad character?
I wouldn't say it's a bad character. According to me, Bhaiyyaji is a very lovable character. Nowadays bad is good. The younger generation is more attracted towards bad guys than good ones I guess [laughs].
We know that Akshay, the Khiladi, is back in action. Do you think Saif and Kareena can match up?
All actors have different skills. Saif has done something that you haven't seen him. So that may come as a surprise. And the same applies to Kareena. All my three co-stars have surpassed themselves with Tashan, and when I say surpass, I mean that they have surpassed themselves in entertaining their audiences and by their individual performances.
Vishal-Shekhar's music for an action film like this sounds different.
It sounds great. My favourite track is Dil Haara. I love the way Sukhwinder has sung it. Other than that, I feel the songs will pick up more after the film's release.
Can you tell us a little bit about your character in the film?
He is called Bhaiyyaji and he lives in a small town in Kanpur. He rides a rickshaw and makes a living out of it. He is ambitious in his own way and if it requires him to go against the law to fulfil his ambition he would not think twice–he would just go and grab it. He wants to make it big in Mumbai, the city of dreams. He achieves that. Then he wants to make it big internationally, but his problem is that he does not know how to speak fluent English. You have to see the film to see how he learns English and how he fulfils his dream to become the most powerful man.
How would you describe Tashan? And what is your Tashan?
In true sense, Tashan means 'good luck'. But in the film, it is style, attitude and good luck packed together. My Tashan is my two pairs of jeans, which I wear 365 days a year and my pair of boots which I've kept wearing for years. My jeans and boots represent my style.
What was it like working with Yash Raj Films after so many years?
I have done three films with Yash Raj; I almost started my career with them. As a matter of fact, the turning point of my career was Mashaal, where I had the opportunity to work with Yashji and Dilip Kumar. Then I did Lamhe. We had such a wonderful time doing it and it was such a beautiful film. I think the best way to describe Yash Raj Films in one word is, well, Tashan.
Do you believe what you say in the promos of Tashan–'First impression... is the last impression'?
I don't believe in it... but yes, my character believes. Bhaiyyaji believes.