A month before the launch of his TV series 24, Anil Kapoor reveals the two dozen important moments and people in his life
1 Meeting my wife Sunita: We first spoke on the phone and then I met her for the first time at Raj Kapoor’s house. It was love at first sight for me. My first milestone is still with me 42 years later.
2 My elder brother Boney: When I started my career as an actor, Boney and I got closer. One day he travelled with me to Khadakvasla to do a photoshoot with JP Singhal. We took those pictures to Raj Kapoor who had wanted me to do Paramvir Chakra. That gave me a lot of confidence. Because of Boney I met JP saab. Raj Kapoor showing interest in signing me was a big thing for me. Everybody took me seriously after that. They said ‘kuch toh hoga iss mein’. Boney and I continued our relationship, not as brothers but more friends and partners. He has been a pillar of strength and support for me.
3 Ek Baar Kaho where I met Shabana (Azmi) for the first time: She introduced me to Javedsaab. After seeing my work he recommended my name to Ramesh Sippy. I signed Shatranj and Meri Jung because of him. Initially, Meri Jung was to star Amitabh Bachchan, Amjad Khan and me, but then I did Mr Bachchan’s role and Javed Jaffrey essayed my part. My friendship with Javedsaab and Shabana has lasted for over 30 years and we are still as close and friendly as we were then.
4 Woh Saat Din: Working with Bapusaab (Satthiraju Lakshmi Narayana) and Shabana’s brother Baba Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah and Padmini Kolhapure saying yes to doing the film. If she hadn’t said yes the film wouldn’t have been made.
5 Mashaal with Dilipsaab. I made the covers of all the magazines. From an actor I became a star. I met Dilipsaab also for the first time. Yashji took me to meet him in Bangalore as he had to approve of me. That film changed my entire career. Thanks to Javedsaab who recommended my name to Yashji for the film. He had recommended my name to two people – Yashji and Rameshji.
6 Mashaal premiere: I signed two films – Feroz Khan’s Janbaaz and Subhash Ghai’s Meri Jung on the same night. One filmmaker called and the other wrote me a letter.
7 Matrimony: Because I signed two big films I decided it was time for me to get married to Sunita who had been my friend first, and then a girlfriend. Now it was time for her to become my wife.
8 My girl: My daughter Sonam was born. It was one of the most thrilling moments of my life!
9 My first house: After Sonam was born I bought my first apartment in Juhu and she was taken froom Chembur to Juhu. Sunita and I, after marriage, stayed with our parents in Chembur. I bought the first floor and later bought the entire building.
10 Ghai film: Then I did Karma where I was pitted against stalwarts like Dilipsaab, Naseeruddin Shah, Jackie Shroff and Poonam Dhillon. All the reviews were bad but the critics said only one thing is good and that is Anil Kapoor. My luck was so strong that everything was only positive for me. Everybody in Karma was great but sometimes when everything is bad something good is noticed somewhere. Karma became a huge hit and it was my first hit from the north to the south like 3 Idiots. Till date Karma remains Subhash Ghai’s biggest money-spinner.
11 Mr India: Soon after, I signed Mr India which became a cult classic. Till date it has maximum recall value and even now people ask me when a sequel is going to be made and I don’t know (laughs). It was also where I met Shekhar Kapoor and Sridevi for the first time. Later she became my sister-in-law. Shekhar is stiil my friend.
12 My second girl: My second daughter Rhea was born. After she was born I gave almost 24 hits in a row including Mohabbat, Saheb, Andar Bahar and Kala Bazaar. I was unstoppable and I became the only actor who was at least two hits a year. Films not doing well is a matter of destiny and luck and I got lots of luck after Rhea was born. She was one lucky girl for me! But the fact is, I reached late for her delivery as I was working round the clock. By the time I reached she was already born.
13 Tezaab: The collections beat the Sholay collections. II got the Best Actor award for it, even though there were was top actors who were nominated, including Mr Bachchan. Tezaab became the biggest blockcbuster in the late 80s and launched Madhuri into a star.
14 Ram Lakhan: It became a big hit. It was very embarrassing when the film industry and trade people and media put me on the covers of all the magazines, including India Today and Kolkata’s Sunday, saying I was the No 1 star of the country. Suddenly there was a war between me and Mr Bachchan. It took me by surprise. Aeji O ji lo ji suno ji became like a national anthem and so synonymous with me that even today wherever I go I am asked to dance to the song. I am so bored of it now!
15 Parinda: It was India’s official entry to the Oscars and I take full credit for introducing Jackie to Vidhu Vinod Chopra and RD Burman. Vinod had wanted to take Naseer and Vanraj Bhatia as he didn’t want anybody commercial in the film. Naseer refused so I told him that if he wanted me to do the film then he should take Madhuri, Jackie and RD Burman. Vidhu and I became very dear friends and till today we share a great relationship. Every film he does, he first asks me to read the script and give him my comments.
16 Eeshwar: After three super hits I did Eeshwar. I am proud that it came before Rainman and Forrest Gump. Eeshwar was the story of a mentally-challenged man and then I was known as the biggest star of the country. Raj Kapoor was initially to make it with Kamal Haasan and I was very envious about that. Rajji told me that after Kamal if anybody could do it it was me. Fortunately that deal didn’t work out and I did the film.
17 Lamhe: Yash Chopra used to tell me that it remained his best film till date. It’s a cult classic and my work and performance was really appreciated. Very rarely does a leading actor forms two successful pairs with his leading actresses but achieved it with both Madhuri and Sridevi. I formed a hit pair with both after AB-Rekha, Raj-Nargis etc. In Lamhe I was introduced to Aditya Chopra whom I share a great rapport with even now. He used to call me Sirji and used to request me to show him the rushes of 1942 – A Love Story. I could see his passion for cinema. We all had a great time in London shooting for it. Films come and go but people still talk about Lamhe.
18 Beta: My son Harsh was born. More than me Boney was very excited that I had a son finally. I have always believed that daughters represent Goddess Lakshmi and was equally happy with two daughters but he is a typically Punjabi male and felt that after two daughters I should have a son. I am happy and very proud of Harsh. I was present during his birth. This time if I hadn’t been, Sunita would have left me (laughs).
19 Beta – The film: I now had a beta (my son Harsh) and Beta my film, remains the biggest success in my career till date. It made me and Madhuri the biggest success pair. The Dhak dhak song in Beta and Kaate nahi kat ti hai from Mr India remains the most sensual songs till date. Sarojji choreographed Dhak dhak and when I look at the songs I feel it’s because I look at my heroines with so much love and innocence. Today’s heroes look more at themselves than the girls. People felt it should have been called Beti. When I got the Best Actor award for this film it was my biggest vindication. Public opinon rules more than critics. I was redeemed.
20 1942 – A Love Story: I never wanted to do the film as I felt I was too old. I suggested Bobby Deol and Aamir Khan’s names to Vidhu. I didn’t see myself in a romantic lead. Nowadays actors play romantic roles while in their late 40s but I was never deluded always grounded. For 1942… I wanted to look young and my best with Manisha. I suggested her name to Vidhu again. I realised while shooting that health is most important and started working out for the first time. I started exercising and from then to now, my weight has remained the same. I have had great music for most of my films but 1942… I consider to be my best music.
21 Virasat: It had a great journey. When I bought the rights of Thevar Magan from Kamal Haasan I asked all the top directors of that time from Mahesh Bhatt to Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Sudhir Mishra but finally Priyandarshan agreed to direct it. For the father’s role I had wanted Dilipsaab or Raj Kumar to do it but they refused. I even asked top actresses like Sridevi, Madhuri and Kajol to play the female lead but all of them rejected it till finally Tabu said yes.
22 Beti: Sonam was launched as an actress in Saawariya as the female lead with Ranbir Kapoor, who was Raj Kapor’s grandson and Rishi Kapoor’s son. I never expected Sonam to be an actress as she had expressed no inclination till then. She wanted to assist Sanjay Leela Bhansali and I spoke to him. She started assisting him in Black. Then one day both SLB and Sonam came to my house and Sanjay said he wanted to launch my daughter. I told him that she’s not trained as an actress but he insisted that she had the potential and to leave it to him. Sonam has done me proud. She speaks her mind, is very brave and this year has been a wonderful one for her where she has got commercial success and critical acclaim which is very rare. Sonam is one of the least exposed stars today and does films she wants. She knows her mind and has carved a niche for herself in such a short time. I am extremely proud of her.
23 Hollywood: Slumdog Millionaire. I used to be envious of actors who had done films like Sholay and Mughal-E-Azam. I wanted to have that one film which will go down as and be remembered in cinematic history. I had given blockbusters but not the kind of films which people spoke about. Slumdog Millionaire won 200 awards – including an Oscar. It has done a business of almost 2,500 crore. I had heard that Danny had aapproached Shah Rukh before me but I was always waiting in the slips to take a catch. I never minded that.
24 Mr Producer: I began producing my TV series 24 which airs now in October. It’s my biggest and best role till date. It takes top priority amongst all my films. I bought the rights of 24 because it more relevant for Indian audiences than even Americans. We have seen many wars in our history but today we don’t see who is the enemy from outside or within. There has been nothing so barbaric and nothing has shaken us up more than than the 26/11 killings where hundreds of of innocent people got killed. I play the Indian counterpart (Jai Singh Rathod) of Jack Bauer’s role in 24 and I hope I can live upto and make Jai Singh Rathod as iconic as Keifer Sutherland made Bauer to be.
Story source: DNA