My memories of Hindi movies and my admiration for Anil Kapoor pretty much run simultaneously. When I think back to my childhood, one of the most prominent memories is sitting on my living room floor, crossed legged, watching Ram Lakhan and being mesmerized by ‘One-Two-Ka Four’ – and yes, I did remember pretty much all the dialogues from the movie, scene by scene. That was the start of my Anil-Kapoor-Mania. I was drawn to his great sense of “everythingness”,— which when defined meant that he could take on any character and any role, make it his own and you couldn’t imagine any other actor enacting that role. He’s been around since the eighties and this Kapoor has no intentions of going anywhere. While the Khans run around finding the crown to finally claim their kingship, Kapoor is more than happy with the roles he receives and the accolades that follows thereafter. So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and explain my L-O-V-E for this one of a kind Kapoor.
Be it the charming Lakhan in Ram Lakhan, the tapori in Tezaab, the lover in Lamhe or the simpleton in Eeshwar, this Kapoor is an actor who manages to excel in all his roles. From his debut in Who Saat Din in 1983, critics knew that the young boy from suburban Mumbai was one to watch out for. He quickly went on to take on a variety of roles and star with some of the greats within the industry, winning immense praise along the way and yet staying as grounded as ever. Perhaps one of his best performances was the eighties favorite Mr. India where he played the warm-hearted Arjun bhaiya who cared for orphan children and discovered his scientist father’s experiment to become invisible. From that film on his career really accelerated. What followed was nothing short of sheer excellence: Parinda, Kishen Kanhaiya, Beta, Virasat, Pukar and so on.
Anil has had his share of duds at the box office, but his performance has rarely or never been criticized. In the epic 1942 – A Love Story, he played a young boy in love with the daughter of a revolutionist. While the over-hyped movie was expected to be thunderous, it bombed at the box office. However, Kapoor did go on to win the Best Actor award for his performance in the movie. This was the just the beginning of his wins for the popular awards. He was bestowed with many honors in the Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Actor in a Comic Role categories: Taal and Biwi No. 1 respectively. Additionally, for his outstanding performance in Pukar he was felicitated with the National Award. Anil however, has never cared about the length of his role in a film and in fact has been caught saying and living up to might we add, “It is not the length of the role that counts but the content in it.” This demonstrates his best trait: humility.
Ask any of his male co-stars and they will tell you what a generous and helpful actor Kapoor is. He has worked with all generations of stars and directors, and none of them have a single ill word to utter about the actor. Kapoor has also romanced every popular actress in his time. Be it Padmini Kolapure in the early eighties or Madhuri Dixit later on; add to the list some the previous and current reigning queens: Sridevi, Juhi Chawla, Manisha Koriala, Kajol, Rani Mukherjee, Aishwariya Rai, Kareena Kapoor and Karisma Kapoor. Mind you, that is just a few of a large number. Surprisingly, he has never been linked to any of his co-stars and in fact, the ladies are all praise for this evergreen actor. Being the family man that he is, Kapoor’s heart only goes “dhak-dhak” for his wife of 24 years, Sunita.
After reigning in the eighties and nineties, the millennium was not short of any Anil Kapoor movies, clearly demonstrating that he is here to stay. He isn’t afraid to dive head on into territories that his peers refuse to step into. He produced Gandhi – My Father, which created lots of news with its controversial topic, as well as acted in the newly released and globally acclaimed Slumdog Millionaire. While the movie has been loved and accepted worldwide, back home in India the movie was seen as a poor depiction of the country. Kapoor quickly jumped to the movie’s defense claiming, “The film is going to be a terrific inspiration to kids around India. It’s a feel-good film, a film of hope.” Kapoor knows firsthand the problems that slum children face on a daily basis as he too was bought up in a Mumbai slum. Perhaps, director Danny Boyle knew he would understand the trials and tribulations such children face because of his background. The movie has already won many awards, including best ensemble cast at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. It is also nominated for 10 Oscars.
His experience as a child residing in the slums of Mumbai has made him take it upon himself to help out the children who are unfortunately a victim of living in the slums. He works with several organizations including the popular NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) and Plan India to help children in such poverty-stricken areas. The actor who believes in charity work also went on to auction “A Day with Anil Kapoor” on Ebay and all the proceedings were donated to assist these children. In addition, his entire earnings from Slumdog Millionaire have been donated to help the livelihood of these children. He has a deep love for young impoverished children and has vowed to continually help them.
While we have seen most actors of his generation mature physically, A.K. has refused to let his age show on his face or in his acting ability. He does occasionally change his appearance by shaving off his trademark mustache, but no quicker is it off, it is as quickly back. Either way, fans love him sans the mustache or with. Kapoor can still act, dance and give any of the youngin’s a real run for their money. While this actor shows no sign of retiring anytime soon, and we wouldn’t want him to, be sure that he will be around for a while jutting out some excellent films and some even better performances. So until we get to see this “jakaas” actor again on celluloid, we will reiterate what fellow co-star Amrish Puri insisted on repeating to Anil in Mr. India: “Mogambo Khush Hua!”