Anil Kapoor loves southern India and how
Bangalore occupies a special place in the heart of Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor, since the city has been an important part during the first days of his career. So much so that the actor does not miss the opportunity to visit the city. In the city to celebrate and be part of the Ganesh Utsav in Bangalore, he took some free time to take us along the path of memory. Excerpts ... What is your first and most vivid memory of Bangalore?
I arrived in Bangalore for the first time in the late 70s, when we were filming a movie called Hum paanch . This was a new version of Padavaralli Pandavaru by Puttanna Kanagal. The cast included Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, Mithun Chakraborty and Aruna Iraniji. I was part of the production team and my job was to receive all these actors at Bangalore airport. We filmed in Bangalore and Melkote. We loved visiting the Narasimha temple there. The movie worked well and we attribute it to the temple, so much so that when we started working at Mr. India, we called our banner Narasimha Enterprises.
His next trip must have been for his Kannada film debut ...
Yes, I came here again to shoot Pallavi Anu Pallavi . This was the first film by director Mani Ratnam. I remember staying at a small hotel called Swiss Cottage. We filmed in many places in Bengaluru, on MG Road, as well as in many of the city's restaurants. It was during this visit that I bought a sari for my girlfriend for the first time. It was a whitish sari and, by the way, she, Sunita, with whom I am married, still has it with her.
Visits to Bangalore became frequent after my movie Woh Saat Din. I was here often, either to film or to promote my films. The people of Karnataka have always supported me a lot in all my films and they have always done very well here. From Parinda, 1942 A love story, Eshwar and Visarat, to the most recent ones like No Entry, Welcome and Dil Dhadakne Do have also done well here.
From a Kannada movie, to finding a firm foothold in Bollywood, and then moving on to a couple of interesting projects in Hollywood too ... can fans expect you to make a Kannada movie again?
Yes, of course. For an actor, cinema can be in any language - as the craft remains the same. In fact, it was Naseeruddin Shah who had first told me this when I found that I was nervous about my first Telugu film. He had been a part of a Kannada film along with the late Girish Karnad. He wrote to me to say that art doesn’t need a language, actors are instruments that help convey a story. Since then, I have never worried myself about language. However, getting the diction right was a challenge. I worked out a technique where I would draw pictures and write out words in English and then learn how to use the vowels and sounds as used in a particular language and learn them by heart, like how a kid learns the alphabet. I also had help on the sets, where one person would help me understand the meaning of what I was saying, let me know where to give a pause while delivering a line, etc. For Pallavi Anu Pallavi, I was fortunate to have the singer SP Balasubrahmanyam give voice not only to the songs, but also to my lines.
To have Mani Ratnam And did you ever talk about working again?
I would love to work with him again. We keep meeting and I am a huge admirer of his work. I recall all my co-stars from the film. There was Lakshmiji, Rohith Srinath who played the kid, then there was Kiran Vairale from Mumbai and Vikram in a guest role. I have met Lakshmiji a couple of times. I am in touch with Kiran and Mani Ratnam.
His contemporaries of the South Indian film industry meet every year ...
Yo lo se! And they have been inviting me, but I have not been able to make it. Suhasini Mani Ratnam and Khushbu Sundar update me on all that happens at the meetings as well. I think I will try and be a part of it this year.
In the 80s and 90s, they cheated you for having a furry chest. Today, you have become the guy in the memes poster for not having age. When did that transition happen?
The memes are fun. I enjoyed the trolls before and I also enjoy the facts these days. I take them as a compliment.
But what is the secret behind this eternity?
It probably has to do with my love for the food of South India and the amount of food I have consumed for decades. I am very fond of cooking here, that is the secret of my eternity. Idli, sambar, chutney, dosa and all the pickles I've had with rice, rasam and curd should be the reason. My foundation was here. South Indian cuisine, such as idli and dosa, are healthy food options. When a person is not well, their diet usually includes idlis, as it is the safest food option. That is my secret, now revealed.