Today is Annu Kapoor’s birthday. And even though roles like Dr Chaddha from Vicky Donor showed his calibre as an actor, his real claim to fame was as the host of Antakshari (the sponsors changed), which was a superhit show during its time. There were three teams – Deewane, Parwane and Mastane. And confession time: this writer always supported Parwane.

We all remember growing up as kids playing the game on our school bus. Considering Bollywood songs are so popular, we all loved singing our hearts out in a group. Not only was it a great team building exercise, it was also a way of expressing feelings. You could always sing “Kaate Nahi Katte” that ends (only the mukhda) with an ‘I Love You‘. 

As the game went on, it would be tougher to find songs since all the songs starting from a particular letter in our library would be used. It was especially difficult to find something with tha (you had to sing Na Na Karte pyaar tumse kar baithe) as there are very few well known songs starting with that letter other than Thande Thande Paani se nahaana chahiye

Such was the popularity of this game, that there was an entire section in Maine Pyaar Kiya where Salman Khan and Bhagyashree play Antakshari. Really, we should play this game more often and not let it die. 

Coming back to Annu Kapoor, whose birthday is making us celebrate this game once more. Annu didn’t have the most affluent of upbringings and isn’t very educated. “Due to our financial crisis, I had to quit studying after Class X. The social ostracisation that we had to go through was not a good feeling. There was no stability of income, no thikana about rotithere, and a lot of uncertainty about life. We kept shifting from one place to another place, living the life of a gypsy. My mother’s salary was just 40. She had just two saris in which she would travel 13 kms, walking to and fro from school to teach and earn her salary. Life was very tough. I then ran a tea stall, sold churan ke note for a while, ran a fire cracker shop with just 42, post which I started selling lottery tickets, when my babuji said, ‘If there is nothing else happening, join my company.’ And I joined his theatre company,” he revealed in an interview with The Times Of India.

Still, his passion for his craft and his inimitable voice helped him scale the heights that he has. We hope to see him host many more shows, and do more roles like the one he pulled off in Jolly LLB 2, where his villainous act almost stole the show from Akshay Kumar (who too was at the top of his game). 

Image courtesy: YouTube screengrab/Zee TV

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