With 450 films under his wing, who would have thought playing an old man in his very first film would be a step closer to becoming a legendary actor in Bollywood. Be it a positive role or a negative role, he fits into his characters as if they were a part of his own personality. We are talking about Actor and Owner of Actor Prepares (A School for Actors) Anupam Kher who has completed 31 years of amazing performances in Hindi cinema this year. To celebrate his years and his first film (Saaransh) he shared his thoughts in a special blog post we now share with you.
It’s been thirty-one long years since I debuted on the screen with the release of Saaransh on May 25, 1984. On this occasion, after acting in over 450 films, many international projects, hundreds of theatrical productions, I look back on the path I have traversed.
It has been a wonderful journey of ups and downs, a journey in which I have several times lost faith, only to discover myself. In all this, I would not be as enriched in thought and attitude — as I find myself today – if my first film was not Saaransh.
I came to Bombay, as it was then known, on the third of June, 1981, and till the run up to Saaransh, my life epitomised that of a struggling actor. I had run out of creditors, goodwill, slept on railway platforms, put on false facades…in short, I had done everything that could be expected of a person for survival. The only motivators which kept me going was the pursuit of my dream and the advantage I had of being a trained actor; a gold medallist at that! Saaransh itself had its heartbreaks; at 28 I was given the role of the retired 65 year old school teacher B V Pradhan, only to have it taken back when I had been intensely rehearsing the scenes and had told everyone about my big break. Then my luck turned again and I got back my role.
My luck kept changing all through; from being one of the most in-demand actors, I went bust when I started an entertainment company. Again, just when I thought my role would win a national award, it eluded me! So much has happened to me that I encapsulated my life in my autobiographical play Kucch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai which has been running to packed houses in over a dozen countries in the past 15 years. My life lessons made me distill a philosophy of optimism: that Failure is often a stepping stone to Success and in Life, Kucch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai — as is detailed in my play.
When I look back now, I am content with what I have achieved in these three decades. I no longer desire to be at page three events only to see if my picture has been published the next day. I have lived with the insecurities, the backbiting, the hype by the media and the subsequent and inevitable demolition by the same media. I have understood that to conquer the world, you have to first conquer yourself. And I think I have traversed a long way along that road.
This is not to say that I have come to the ideal state where I am immune to success and failure. No, I have not reached that stage yet. I still get hurt, I still get disappointed. It is not that I no longer hunger for major roles or awards. If I bag it, good. If not, I can live without it. But they matter less and less; in a sense, I feel liberated. Right now, I am at my peak as an actor, a performer and as a teacher. I have been sought out by multinationals and universities abroad and by top-flight institutes in India such as the IITs as a motivational speaker. I guess that is because I am at peace with what I do; I have struck my work-life balance. Recently, I lost the opportunity to do a major role in successful International television show as well as a Hollywood production due to my theatre commitments. But unlike what I would have done five years ago, I did not juggle around or walk out of these engagements. I learned to accept the flow of life.
I don’t think I would be looking at life like this if Saaransh did not happen to be my first film and if B V Pradhan was not my first screen character. The moral, upright, principled, Gandhian lifestyle of Pradhan has impacted me all through these years. This is a case where reel life has impacted real life! And in some time with the passage of years, when I look like B V Pradhan, I hope to be like him when I seek nothing. Life for me will then have come full circle.
So on this occasion, I thank Saaransh, all my directors beginning with Mahesh Bhat, all my producers starting from Rajshri Productions, the actors, technicians and industry folks I have worked with, my audiences who have been with me these 31 years and everyone who has helped shape my philosophy that in life, Kucch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai.
We would like to congratulate Mr. Anupam Kher for keeping us entertained for 31 years and here’s wishing him the best for the future.