Annu Kapoor: It was phenomenal to be a part of Mr India
One of the most loved films in the history of Indian cinema, Mr India became a huge hit at the time of its release.
Besides the mercurial Mogambo (played by Amrish Puri) and the glamorous Seema (played by Sridevi), there was the editor of a publication that Seema worked for.
Annu Kapoor played Gaitonde, the nervous newspaper editor who's always screaming at Seema.
On the eve of Mr India's 25th anniversary, Kapoor speaking to Sonil Dedhia in an exclusive interview, as he revisits the film and shares some interesting anecdotes.
Image: Annu Kapoor in Mr India
'I accepted Mr India so that I could make ends meet'
I accepted Mr India so that I could make ends meet.
My struggle started at the age of 14. I was born in a slum and had seen the worst of poverty. I scored 93 per cent in the 10th standard, but my father couldn't afford my college fees and I couldn't continue my education.
I always dreamt of becoming a surgeon. Acting just happened to me. I have even worked in a textile mill and sold lottery tickets.
Coming back to Mr India, I didn't get a lot of work before I started shooting the film. I am very thankful to producer Boney Kapoor who signed me on. I remember I was staying with a friend in his house before I did Mr India. When I started shooting for the film I requested Boney Kapoor to pay me some of my fees in advance. He obliged and gave me Rs 5000. I was ecstatic. I still remember the date, it was July 6, 1985.
I immediately rented a room for myself. I paid the whole amount to the landlady who gave me a room with a separate entrance to it. I can proudly say that Mr India is one of the films that have contributed in shaping my career.
Image: Sridevi in Mr India
'Shekhar Kapur is an extraordinary director'
Mr India belongs to a different era where we were not so technically advanced. We didn't have the latest technology available and it was tough shooting for the film.
Shekhar Kapur made Mr India into a fantasy film rather than keeping it realistic and I guess that is what made the film such a huge success. He is an extraordinary director.
I remember we would do two or three takes for a particular shot and would be satisfied with it. After that he would give us a chance to shoot that scene again for our personal satisfaction and gave us the liberty to do whatever we wanted to.
Image: Anil Kapoor in Mr India
'Nothing significant happened after Mr India'
I'd like to mention director Raj Kanwar who passed away recently.
He was an assistant director on Mr India. I was staying at 7 Bunglows in Andheri (a western Mumbai suburb) and we were shooting at R K studios in Chembur. Kanwar's job was to pick me up from my house everyday and take me to the sets.
I can still visualise him coming down to my house in a white ambassador. I would come down and hug him and we would talk about the shoot. I still get goose bumps when I remember those days.
He was a fine gentleman.
Image: Anil Kapoor and Sridevi in Mr India
'Amitabh Bachchan had said once that I was one of his favourite actors'
It's just a phenomenal experience to be part of an epic like Mr India but to be frank, nothing significant happened after Mr India. People praised my work in the film and everyone liked my performance but nothing major happened.
I remember Amitabh Bachchan had given an interview to one of the film magazines. During the interview, he was asked to mention his favourite actors.
Along with Satish Kaushik and Paresh Rawal he had mentioned my name. It was a great achievement for me. I felt really proud. Immediately after Mr India, I got a chance to work with Amitabh as his sidekick in Main Azaad Hoon.
But Mr India didn't change my life.
Image: Amrish Puri in Mr India