For Anil Kapoor, winning the National Award for the Rajkumar Santoshi-directed film, Pukar, is vindication of all his hard work.
Here is a jubilant Anil, exclusive on rediff.com:
What was your reaction when you heard you were chosen for the National Award?
I was ecstatic!
I immediately thought of my family, especially my ten-year-old son Harshvardhan, who was certain that I'd get the National Award this time.
His words were, "Dad, who cares about the other Awards? You're gonna get the National Award!"
He said it in exactly the style I'm saying it.
What do you have to say about the controversy surrounding the National Awards?
Controversies have become a part of life today so I'm enjoying getting the award and leaving the discussions to the others.
Critics are saying that the jury is pandering to commercial cinema...
I have worked with the best directors, the best cameramen in my career.
If the National Awards are applauding commercial cinema, it's a good thing because it is really tough to do all that we do.
Parallel cinema has been looking down on us. Our films require a lot of hard work. And if mainstream cinema is being recognised, it's a good thing.
Everyone's saying this Anil Kapoor has been around too long, and he's still playing hero. What do you have to say?
*laughing* Oh, it's just the beginning, honey!
Just the beginning?
You see, things have changed from what they were a couple of decades ago.That's why things are so hunky dory for people like us, people like me.
Earlier we were 20-30 years behind Hollywood cinema. Our cinema catered to illiterate and uneducated people.
But now, a major chunk of our audience is educated, literate, sensible. They understand and enjoy films which are performance-oriented and sensible. They form the chunk of our market today.
People are enjoying films like Pukar or roles like the one Sanju (Sanjay Dutt) played in Mission Kashmir. People have liked my work in Taal or Biwi No 1.
They are fed up of the teeny-bopper romance; they've had a surfeit of it anyway. So I would say it is a demand and supply market.
Today, we are only a few years behind Hollywood cinema. Who are the top stars there? Tom Hanks, Mel Gibson, Tom Cruise -- and they're among the younger lot! Seniors like Harrison Ford and Michael Douglas are amongst the top stars of the country.
The first film which made Russell Crowe, for example, a major star is one of revenge, where he plays a father.
As for me, I'm looking forward to my next film, Nayak, where I play a very interesting role. That of a TV journalist and cameraman who gets the opportunity to become the chief minister for a day. These kind of films can't be done by a teenager.
I'm doing a film with Sudhir Mishra and Satish Kaushik. I've done films like Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hai, Taal, etc, which I think I do well.
I've always aimed at longevity rather than making hay while the sun shines. I've never done ads, you'll notice.
I enjoy the creativity of films and acting. And I have always worked hard in every film and taken interest in its making. Earlier, this was seen as intereference. Today, it's a plus point.
Did you think you would be doing all this when you started off?
I've made sure to do a variety of roles and not get slotted.
My very first film (Woh Saat Din) was a departure in that I played a music composer. It was felt that the role would suit a Sanjeev Kumar. Because in those days, a music composer was middle-aged.
Then, I did Eshwar, where I played a grandfather. Again, I was told I was too young to play a grandfather. But I did it. Then there was Lamhe, where I played Sridevi's father.
I've worked with directors like M S Sathyu and Mani Ratnam right from the beginning. In fact, with Sathyu, I did sync sound and not dubbing. Today, they're making such a hoo-haa about this sync sound, which I've already done two decades ago.
So you've always chosen your roles carefully?
The creative process of choosing a film has always been my own.
I thought I would get an award for Pukar. I was a little disappointed that it was bypassed at the Filmfare Awards, but I didn't mind it too much.
People like Mammootty, Dilip Kumar, etc, had all congratulated me on my performance. Even while shooting it, I felt it would fetch me credit.
Produced by SoundPicture Communications
Anil Kapoor on Real Audio!
'I'm so touched!'
'I feel sorry for the award winners!'