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Interview Hindi

Some of my films of the 1980s may look outdated today, says Anil Kapoor

The veteran actor speaks about his upcoming film Jugjugg Jeeyo and discusses his career choices and what makes him still relevant.

Anil Kapoor in JugJugg Jeeyo

Keyur Seta

After reaching the ranks of senior citizens, most actors acquire the image of a fatherly or elderly person and that is the kind of roles they get. But Anil Kapoor has been an exception, not just because of his looks but also for his persona. Therefore, he is being seen as the second hero or lead in Raj Mehta’s comedy Jugjugg Jeeyo (2022), despite playing the father of Varun Dhawan’s character.

Produced by Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions, the film is about a young couple seeking a divorce. All hell breaks loose when the guy’s father reveals that he, too, wishes to divorce his wife.

Such youthful zest and wit was visible at a recent media interaction with Anil Kapoor as well. Apart from his role in the film which also stars Kiara Advani and Neetu Kapoor, the artiste looked back upon his career choices and discussed what makes him relevant still. Excerpts:

What was the reason for choosing Jugjugg Jeeyo? Was it because of the role?

It’s not only the role. I don’t do films for the sake of them being different. There are so many other reasons for me to do a film. It’s the producer, director, story, whether I will suit the role and do justice to it, all these matter.

What exactly is your character in the film?

My character is Bheem. I play a businessman who is married and has two children, a son and a daughter. He started from scratch and made a success of himself. But now he is bored with the routine. People call it mid-life crisis. He starts becoming a little selfish and starts thinking more about himself.

Anil Kapoor and Varun Dhawan in Jugjugg Jeeyo

Most people are like that. Sometimes it’s okay to think more about yourself. I just felt it’s very real. And a lot of people have these thoughts in their minds but don’t practise. 

The film tackles the issue of divorce in today’s times. So what is the relevance of the title Jugjugg Jeeyo?

Yaar, yeh director se poochho [Please ask the director]. I didn’t go so deep. I just loved the title. Jugjugg Jeeyo is like a blessing. It’s a very positive kind of a title. This is a very positive film.

What do you think of Raj Mehta as a director?

He makes entertaining films, although he has made just two. What I saw in Good Newwz (2019) was that it was a very entertaining film and I never felt it was cringe. It didn’t look fake. There were certain situations which were larger-than-life. Sometimes when you do comedies, you are required to do scenes that are not that believable. But how you make it believable and make it look relatable, watchable and likeable is the art of the director. That’s what I like about him.

How excited were you to work alongside Neetu Kapoor? She doesn’t do many films.

To be honest, when I said yes to the film, I never knew she was going to be in it. When the story came to me, my sentiment was Yash Johar saheb. We always wanted to do a film together, but we could never work together. I also do films if I find a certain emotional hook.

Anil Kapoor and Neetu Kapoor in Jugjugg Jeeyo

When Karan said Neetuji is doing the film, I got very excited. People want to see her because they haven’t seen her much. When you haven’t seen an actor or actress much, you want to see that person. It is like a guest. If a guest visits you daily, you would say, ‘Arre bas kar yaar! Roz pahunch jata hai khana khane.’ [Enough now. You are visiting us every day].'

We know each other and we are like family members. There is a lot of connect with my mom and Neetu’s mother-in-law Krishna aunty. They were like sisters. So it was very easy on the sets. Earlier we used to meet in our homes, now we met on the sets. There was no ice to be broken as such.

How relatable is the film for today’s people?

The film is very contemporary; the whole thought process and how the husband and wife are. People and youngsters will be able to connect with it. I did some films in the 1980s. At that time we felt they were contemporary. But today they might look outdated. So you have to move with the times.

I have never followed trends in my life. Any creative person who loves his work and job will never follow the trend. He will just see what connects with him at that moment, whether he is a producer, director or actor.

Kiara Advani and Varun Dhawan in Jugjugg Jeeyo

How have you handled failure in your career?

It’s a part of life. I think there is no one who doesn’t go through success, failure, happiness, sadness, de-stress and stress. And you have to go through it. It depends from person to person how he handles life. That’s what makes a person different from others. I don’t think there is anybody who hasn’t gone through failure. Some people learn from it while others repeat or make fresh mistakes.

How have you continued to stay relevant over the decades?

I have been honest with my work. I enjoy what I do. Like, I am speaking to you all, I am enjoying it and having a lot of fun; not bored. Sometimes I see people being bored giving interviews. They are doing it because they have to. I can go on for six or seven hours with you all.

I have been lucky. I did the right films with the right filmmakers. Right stories came to me at the right time. And I was fortunate enough that my mind was working correctly for me to say yes or no. To the right films I said yes and to the wrong films I said no. Some choices were wrong, but they were less than the [right ones].

You should be fortunate to be surrounded by the right people. I have been always lucky to have a good family, wife and children. Of course, I have taken care of myself. Even I want to enjoy. I want to drink and smoke. I love it, but I don’t do it. I want to do everything you feel is a lot of fun, like get drunk.

Even I want to be on the front page, but I don’t do that. I have stopped myself from quick publicity or sensationalism to get trended. For example, say something bad about someone and start trending.

What is your definition of a good film and a bad film?

That I will tell you later, after this film releases (laughs).

I mean, just a definition of good and bad films?

That’s what I am saying. You don’t get to know initially. Sometimes when you are doing a film, it seems like a good choice. But when the film is released and you see it, you are like, “Arre yeh toh kisi ke samajh hi nahin aaya. Kya bundle picture hai! [Oh I just can’t understand this film. What a lousy movie!]"

In the past few months, and this year particularly, there have been some good Hindi films that have received good reviews and word-of-mouth but they just didn’t work at the box office. Do you see this as a serious problem, especially after the penetration of OTT?

It’s a part of life yaar. What can we do? Some films do well, some films don’t. Every film cannot do well. So there is nothing new. This happened before too. We were asked the same question during the entry of video [cassettes], DVDs, satellite and now with digital. But work is still going on.