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Anil Kapoor's 'ekdum jhakaas' roles – Birthday special

Even if not one of the greats, the actor has left his mark with quite a few defining roles.

Photo; Shutterbius Images

Mayur Lookhar

The evergreen Anil Kapoor has been called India's Mr Hollywood, having found success in the West. The actor turned a sprightly 60 today. Maybe it is his fitness that keeps him going strong.

Much before he achieved international success, Anil Kapoor enjoyed success in Hindi cinema. He has his critics who have mocked him for his mindless entertainers, especially from the 1990s. But Kapoor also has some remarkable film roles in his body of work. We look back at some of these – as Kapoor would say – ‘ekdum jhakaas’ roles. 

Prem Pratap Singh – Woh Saat Din (1983)

One of Anil Kapoor's best performances came in Woh 7 Din (1983). Kapoor elevated the clichéd character of a romantic street musician with the simplicity and dedication which would become his trademark. The effortless ease with which Kapoor played the idealist who struggles for his dreams marked him out as a star. A decade and a half later, the film was remade by Sanjay Leela Bhansali as Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999).

Raja – Mashaal (1984)

After tasting early success, Yash Chopra cast Kapoor in Mashaal, an intriguing crime and social drama. Though he had done a cameo in Shakti (1982), Mashaal pit Kapoor against the great Dilip Kumar. He wasn’t overawed by the presence of the legend and gave a stellar performance which bagged the Filmfare Best Supporting Actor award.

Charandas – Chameli Ki Shaadi (1986)

After playing some intense roles, Anil Kapoor experimented with comedy in Basu Chatterjee’s Chameli Ki Shaadi. Amrita Singh played the titular role with Kapoor playing her lover Charandas, a wrestler who has taken a vow of bachelorhood. It was an unconventional name for a Hindi film hero, but then the film itself was unconventional. Kapoor and Singh's innocent goofiness had you in splits.

Virendra Pratap Singh – Lamhe (1991) 

In a shocker, Anil Kapoor got rid of his trademark moustache for a portion of this film. He had to; how else could he have portrayed a teenager getting smitten by the elder woman Pallavi (Sridevi)? Kapoor brought out the innocence in the young Virendra Pratap, as he had done successfully earlier in Eeshwar (1989). Years later, the now grey Singh gets attracted to the late Pallavi’s child, Pooja, also played by Sridevi. Yash Chopra was known to tap into unconventional relationships. Kapoor displayed the complexity of the two extreme relationships in the most impeccable manner. 

Munna – Tezaab (1988)

Kapoor played a local tough in this film. His rugged looks, shabby dressing, brusque tone and cool swagger made Kapoor popular with the masses from the humble bylanes of Indian cities. The role got him his first Filmfare Best Actor award.

Shakti Thakur – Virasat (1997)

A remake of the Tamil superhit Thevar Magan (1992), Virasat gave Anil Kapoor a meaningful, intense and impactful role as Shakti Thakur. He went on to win the Filmfare Critics’ award that year, but Kapoor fans were surprised that he did not win the best actor award.

Ravi Patwardhan – My Wife’s Murder (2005) 

Moving away from the local tough and clichéd comic roles, Anil Kapoor found a new lease of life in this unheralded murder mystery. Kapoor displayed the vulnerability and helplessness of his character to the maximum. The film did not rake in the big bucks, but many regard this as Kapoor’s finest performance in the new millennium.

Majnu – Welcome (2007)

You need to watch Anees Bazmee’s Welcome a few times before you get the hang of its humour. Each character in the film was vastly different from the other. Sagar 'Majnu' Shetty (Anil Kapoor) and Uday Shetty (Nana Patekar) made for the unlikeliest reel siblings. The former was a don who loved to paint the most outrageous scenes, while the latter was a Bollywood buff. Kapoor’s unintended humour had you in splits.