MUMBAI — He’s thrilled with the success of “Kapoor and Sons,” and, as he is Rishi Kapoor, he is very vocal about it. The actor is nothing but candid and honest, and his feet are firmly entrenched on terra firma. In a relaxed chat at his bungalow Krishna Raj (which is soon up for redevelopment), Kapoor opens up about the film’s success and what it means to him.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: Thanks for giving us time at such short notice.
A: I am meeting you today to tell you that I am happiest not just about “Kapoor and Sons”s’ success but also because I have finally been considered a consistent and good actor! I have always worked honestly and sincerely, and I am thrilled that in my second innings I have gotten good character roles that have given me so much appreciation irrespective of the fate of the films. I am very proud of “Aurangzeb” and “Patiala House,” which did not find box-office success. In all honesty, look-wise or appearance-wise, I was completely different in each of my films. I always thought that my work was good, because I always worked hard to give my best to the audience and fans. Thankfully, I am now recognized as a worthy actor.
Q: How do you look at the success of “Kapoor and Sons?”
A: I know of people who have watched the film every day! My film is also the highest-grossing film of 2016 overseas, where it has amassed Rs. 27 crore! This is higher than “Airlift” and terrific for something that is not a big star cast film! It has already crossed Rs. 51 crore in India, and I am told that it will cross 100 crore soon. But what is more important is that it is a fresh, relatable film. That has worked in its favor.
Q: You were the life and soul of the film.
A: I can only thank the director (Shakun Batra) and producer (Karan Johar) for having so much faith in my ability and for putting their trust and so much money on me. My makeup as a 90-year-old man alone cost them a crore!
As for my character, I am told that my one-liners were truly enjoyed by the audience. I had a serious discussion on some of the dialogues like when I say “Yeh cake hai ya potty?” as I did not want anything torrid. But clearly, Shakun was right, and I was wrong. The audience loved my comedy, probably because it was not designed as in-your-face, deliberate comedy.
The general view is that daadu, my character, was very cute. Kids have equated me with how their grandfathers must have been if they have never met them. They have loved me so much that they are taking their parents to watch the film. Those who have grandparents relate to their bonhomie with them, as this is something special that probably no father and son can share. In the film, I watch porn with them and smoke weed too. At one level, I am in my second childhood, cheating, being naughty, drinking and fighting.
I am glad that I had an author-backed role, because I have had very few author-backed roles in my entire career of 43 years! I am happy that I have made people laugh and made them cry as well. Since people are relating to it, they weep when I break down on Skype with my grandsons and also in the climax, where if you have noticed, there are no dialogues, only music and visuals.
Q: You are no method actor. How did you harness the punch you gave to this role?
A: The director helped in a big way. Strangely enough, when my makeup man Greg Cannom, a thrice-Oscar winner, asked me what I thought of my character and what was my sub-text, I told him that when I saw myself with the makeup on, I felt like the character. He was silent for a few seconds, and I asked him what was wrong. And he replied that Cate Blanchett, who was young when she played an old woman in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” had said exactly the same thing to him!
So I felt that I was Amarnath Kapoor and behaved in a certain way, because I knew my film’s climax. Acting is observation and everything I must have noticed subconsciously. I had seen a man in his 80's who sat and walked in a particular hunched kind of way. I decided to imbibe that. Except when I am shown getting excited, I kept my reflexes a shade slow as per my reel age. Just like in the proverb ‘Handsome is as handsome does,’ here it was makeup is what make-up does. You have to believe in it and justify it. I am glad I proved myself.
Q: Without any relevance to your character, how much did you interact with your own granddad, the legendary Prithviraj Kapoor?
A: I was 18 when he died. But neither my father nor he lived beyond 63 or 64. So there was no reference anyway. My standout memory of his I have already spoken about: When I won the National Award for “Mera Naam Joker,” I showed my father the trophy, and he told me to take it to him. My grandfather began weeping, and just when I was wondering why, he said something that I did not understand then, “Aaj Raj ne mera karzaa utaar diya (Today, my son has paid his debt to me)!” I too would like to see Ranbir (Kapoor) continue my legacy.
Q: Which films are you doing now?
A: None, I have no work, and I am chilling out! I know I will think differently if this continues for three months, as I am an actor, but I am also busy looking after the redevelopment of this place and setting up a temporary home nearby. Also, I would rather not work than do any gibberish.
The Indian audience, finally, is coming of age. In the last many months, every success has been different and fresh — “Piku,” “Badlapur,” “Tanu Weds Manu Returns,” “Airlift, “Neerja” and now this film. I am hoping that there are some young writers and directors out there who write something for me as an actor!