Woh 7 Din that sent Anil Kapoor's career rocketing

How the Mr. India actor broke through with his starring role in director Bapu’s Woh 7 Din.

Sonal Pandya

A recently married man discovers after his wedding that his new wife is actually in love with another. Instead of disowning her, he decides to take it upon himself to find her lover and reunite the two. Sounds familiar? This isn’t the story of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s love saga Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999) starring Salman Khan, Aishwarya Rai and Ajay Devgn, but a film that released 16 years earlier called Woh 7 Din (1983).

The film’s title is borrowed from the seven days that Maya spends with her husband Anand before she returns to her first love. Woh 7 Din, which released on 23 June 1983, was a family entertainer and a box-office hit. Film production for the Kapoors is a family business. Veteran producer Surinder Kapoor and his two sons, Boney and Sanjay, were involved in the making of the film. The older Boney was the executive producer while the younger Sanjay was the production controller.

Surinder Kapoor's second son Anil was one of the leads in the film. This was a significant film of Anil Kapoor’s career, his first big role and hit. He had made his film debut with a small part in Umesh Mehra’s Hamare Tumhare (1979). And early on in his career, he was ready to take up any role, including in Southern cinema.

To direct Woh 7 Din, the Kapoors chose Bapu, a filmmaker they had worked with earlier in Hum Paanch (1980), an adaptation of the Mahabharat set in a rural backdrop. Anil Kapoor had had a small role in that film as well.

But in 1983, Anil was ready to step in as the leading man, Prem Pratap Patialewale, for Bapu’s Hindi remake of the Tamil film, Andha Ezhu Naatkal (1981). Woh 7 Din opens with a wedding. Maya, played by Padmini Kolhapure, is a young Maharashtrian girl who is married to Dr Anand (Naseeruddin Shah). But once he brings her home, she consumes poison. But Dr Anand is a considerate man who engages with his bride to find out what’s wrong.

Hesitantly, Maya reveals her past. In a flashback, we find out about the two tenants who rented a room in Maya’s family home. Prem Pratap and his young assistant, Chhotu (Master Rajoo), are on their way to become music directors when they meet Maya. Kolhapure’s Maya is mischievous and confident. She is attracted to the young man and lets him know it.

According to her, he is a simpleton and misinterprets her advances. But the truth is, Prem doesn’t want Maya to know of his love for her because he feels he is not worthy of her. When the lovers finally unite and decide to elope, Maya’s family intervenes and sends the boarders away.

When Maya explains this to her husband, he responds in an unlikely manner. He requests her to stay on for a week to appease his dying mother (Dina Pathak) and to keep up appearances. After that, he says, he will himself take her to Prem.

This unusual love story is liked by all even today, because of the decency of the characters involved. From Maya, who has to think of her past love and her new life, to Anand, who is fair and noble, and to Prem, who decides to do the right thing.

The character of Prem was a great role for a young actor, it needed the right amount of earnestness, fury and silliness. It was the perfect showcase of Anil Kapoor's talent. Kapoor was at ease in front of Padmini Kolhapure and he shone in his scenes opposite the accomplished Shah when the two men inadvertently discuss their fates.

Kapoor is especially good in the finale where he walks away with the scene and takes our hearts with him. Just prior to Woh 7 Din, Kapoor was cast in Mani Ratnam’s first feature, Pallavi Anupallavi (1983), a Kannada film, with Kiran Vairale and Lakshmi. Mani Ratnam recalled the young Kapoor working hard every night to learn the difficult Kannada dialogues. That same hunger has carried over to this day. Kapoor keeps working and embodying character after character in every performance he gives.

Surinder Kapoor started out in film production with the Dara Singh-starrer Tarzan Comes To Delhi (1965). Films like Ek Shriman Ek Shrimati (1969) and Shehzada (1972) followed, but Woh 7 Din (1983) was the one that really put his company on the map and led to other hits like Judaai (1997) and Pukar (2000).

Just last year, on the 32nd anniversary of Woh 7 Din, Anil Kapoor wrote why this film was so special to him.

Of his decision to take on the role, Kapoor told a national magazine, “Woh 7 Din was a film most newcomers would never do, but I and my brother were convinced it would work.” With his recent role as a troubled rich father in Dil Dhadakne Do (2015), the star picked up his seventh Filmfare award. Thirty-seven years into his acting career, Anil Kapoor is nowhere near done.