Last evening, at the Johnnie Walker Gentlemen’s Wager film screening, Chetan Bhagat chaired a panel discussion on risk taking with Anil Kapoor and Irrfan Khan. Here are some of the beans the two spilled
1. Both Kapoor and Khan stay miles away from auditions. Other than their first acting jobs, the two of them have never auditioned for any film. “It is a Hollywood practice,” Kapoor said, “And the whole culture of being judged for a role did not exist in India. It is there now and the young actors don’t mind auditioning and sending showreels for films they want to be a part of. Most of the films my daughter’s been a part of have been through auditions.” Khan, on the other hand, was dismissed too many times for not being conventionally good-looking. “Once, I was selected for the role of a policeman for a TV show and I had to act opposite an established actor. I remember standing in front of him, raising the gun at him and my hand was shaking. That actor ridiculed me and said “kahaan kahaan se uthake late ho” (where do you get such people from?)…It was so embarrassing…”
2. As Kapoor’s family was into film production, it was expected that he would do the same. Therefore, without informing his folks, Kapoor went to audition for a film that needed someone to play Shashi Kapoor’s younger self. He got selected, completed shooting and then informed his parents that he wanted to be an actor. They did not take him seriously.
3. In their individual circles, no one thought they could become successful actors. Irrfan did not tell his friends what he was upto, fearing that they might make fun of his ambitions. Kapoor did tell them, and remained the butt of their jokes for a long time.
4. Kapoor and Khan had different experiences with Hollywood. While Khan had a slow and steady rise, even after Slumdog Millionaire it proved difficult for Kapoor when he wanted to do 24 in Hindi. The show’s original makers made him wait for more than a year and would ask him to keep coming back for meetings and discussions. It was not an easy start. Today Kapoor is already working on the second season. “I got many offers to do be a reality show judge or host a game show but I took the risk to come into television with fiction. No one had done that before and we had no idea how it would turn out. Now I have people wanting to do more projects like 24.” Khan, on the other hand, is going to be a part of another successful movie series. He plays an Indian scientist in the fourth Jurassic Park film releasing next year.
5. And what relationship do these two men share with alcohol? When asked about the most intoxicating experience he’s ever had, Khan cheekily replied “lovemaking” and offered to get into the details too. Kapoor, on the other hand, has a deeper connection. “My father preferred a specific brand and whenever anyone would be going abroad, he would ask for a bottle. I still have his half-filled bottles with me. I somehow want to take them with me on my final journey…”