Fenil and Bollywood

Posts Tagged ‘24

COFFEE & CONVERSATION: Anil Kapoor. For more pictures of the actor, visit http://photogallery.indiatimes.com

Anil Kapoor, one of the best-known Indian faces on the planet, talks to BT about work in LA

MARK MANUEL Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; July 28, 2009)

I don’t know how Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Sachin Tendulkar are going to like this, but Hollywood seems to think that Slumdog Millionaire’s question master Anil Kapoor has become one of the best-known Indian faces on the planet. Anil himself is modest about the recognition. “Obviously, Slumdog changed my life,” he admitted, “but then it changed the lives of everybody connected with the film, including Danny Boyle.” This new global positioning has plucked him out of Bollywood and stationed him in LA, where his talents are being put to use on the Emmy and Golden Globes-winning American TV series 24. “It is an espionage and political thriller,” he explained, “it catches the highest eyeballs in the world. What Friends is for comedy, 24 is for drama and action.” He plays a Middle East President who is in the US for a peace treaty in the UN with the American President. “I won’t mention which Middle East nation,” Anil said apologetically, “but the series is contemporary and about what’s happening in the world… you will know.” This is the eighth season of the show, and perhaps its last, with our Anil having canned six episodes already. He’s about to start the seventh and eight, but the launch of his film Ayesha, which he is producing for daughter Sonam, brought him back to Mumbai for two days. I caught up with the old Bollywood war horse over breakfast on one morning.

He sprinted up two flights of stairs like a spirited young colt to scrambled eggs and multi-grain toast, yelling at me over his shoulder, “When your hands are full, you don’t need to work on fitness.” Then, over coffee, he talked about the Hollywood press’ glowing reports on his success. “This is… what… I… the whole thing is like getting an opportunity to learn so much… I feel like a newcomer, like I’m just
beginning. My daughter said, ‘You have a family, you have money, you have fame and the back-up of work at home, and here’s the opportunity to be there, to work with big players on a global stage. What more could anybody want?’ It is true. I was also offered a few studio roles in Hollywood. But I said no. I don’t need the money and I have enough work at home. My hands are full.” That is also true. He is launching Ayesha on August 2, and he’s already got No Problem, another film he is producing, happening in South Africa since July 11. As for being among the best-known Indian faces on the planet, Anil muttered uncomfortably, “I’m humbled by it. But better I be modest, down to earth and rooted, let my work speak… yet, in my own small way I feel I was a stepping stone, I’m convinced there will be another Slumdog, and there will be many Indians actors who will be ten times bigger than me… but I feel proud, I’m one of the first mainstream actors to do a film like this out of the box.”

He’s busy juggling two careers now (“let’s see where it takes me”), last week he travelled three continents, from LA to Durban and then Mumbai, taking advantage of one night in transit to meet film
makers in London for future international projects. “I love my work passionately,” Anil said. “Saturdays and Sundays in LA, I get restless, because everything shuts down. I just learned what a weekend is. In Bollywood, we work 24/7. There it’s bad manners to call up anyone for work on the weekend. Duniya ulti-seedhi ho jaye, but they remain shut. So I go hiking!” But his heart is still in India. “I’m doing a film for Anees Bamzee, there’s Ayesha, No Problem,
and if there’s something else that’s exciting, I’ll do it here,” he said, undeterred by the failure of his recent film Short Kut at the box office. “I’m ready to fail, I love it when people make fun of me, it makes me feel superior,” he said. “It means I’m up there. I get upset if people ignore me.” People, meanwhile, were not ignoring him at our breakfast table. They were looking at him curiously from afar, giving him space. Anil Kapoor, despite the burnished copper hair, spectacles, and tracksuit, still looks and behaves like a film star. “Being recognised anywhere in the world, that’s the most exciting part,” he told me. “Earlier, when I travelled, it was only the Air-India crew that knew me. Now on any airline, even in China, they come for autographs and pictures. I like that!”
CHUCK IT! Anil Kapoor warms up at the Dodgers Stadium and (below) with two fans

Anil Kapoor first Indian to throw ‘first pitch’ in baseball

MARK MANUEL Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; May 14, 2009)

This is not like Shah Rukh Khan pumping his fist for his IPL team Knight Riders in South Africa. Or Preity Zinta waving the King’s XI flag to encourage her’s. This is a bigger sporting honour in the US than all of that, normally reserved for American Presidents, visiting heads of state, pop stars and super athletes; but, strangely, given to our Anil Kapoor in LA earlier this week.

Known as the first pitch in baseball, this ceremonial ritual has the guest of honour throwing a baseball from the pitcher’s mound to home plate to mark the end of pregame festivities and the official start of the tournament. American Presidents from Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Kennedy to DodNixon, Reagan and Bush have all thrown the first pitch at some time for their favourite teams.

Anil, of course, has no favourite team. Nor had he any idea about baseball until he was invited to do the honours for the Dodgers team of LA. The Bollywood actor is in that city and working on the worldfamous teleserial 24. “It’s a kind of cult show, a thriller of the action genre that’s almost bigger than a Hollywood film, and it’s syndicated to 83 countries where youngsters love it,” said Anil. He plays a Middle Eastern leader on a peace mission to the US.

He’s been in LA since February and has got a good six months more to go. But, in the period, Slumdog Millionaire happened… and Anil is now recognised everywhere in LA. “I didn’t know what a huge honour it is to be invited to throw the first pitch, or that I’m the first Indian to do so,” he said in a phone call from LA. But, with great sportsmanship, he accepted and then went to a baseball stadium (“for the first time!”) to practise how to pitch!

“The rules of the game are opposite to cricket,” he exclaimed. “A full toss, what would be declared a bad call in cricket, is considered a good pitch! And, while we run straight between the wickets, they run around in circles. Everything in America is intentionally opposite to the rest of the world! We press down an electrical switch for the lights to come on… there you have to turn up the switch! Cricket is an art, in baseball, you’re trying to kill someone. You take this round bat like what the dhobi uses to wash clothes, aur ball ko maaro, saala!”

But, when he went into the Dodgers Stadium in LA to pitch for the home team in its match against Arizona, baseball aficionados and Bollywood fans thought Anil Kapoor had been pitching all his life! “My hand was stiff from the practise. And I didn’t know what I was doing, but it turned out to be big, and that was the greater fun,” he reported excitedly.

He did make one boo-boo, though. After the game (“which Dodgers won, thank God!”), the Bollywood hero was invited by the opposite Arizona team for a television interview. And, out of respect, they presented Anil Kapoor with a baseball cap with ‘Arizona’ written on it. He wore it and stepped out. The Dodgers supporters pounced on him! “Take it off ! How can you be disloyal to us,” they demanded of their lucky mascot.