Calling him an actor when he’s into so many things -- all at once -- would be a mistake. Anupam Kher was last seen in the forgettable Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 and will be next seen on the small screen hosting a TV show called Power of Shunya. But that’s not it. He’s also in the middle of writing a book and his next play. And then there is his acting school to take care of too. In a freewheeling chat, the busier-than-ever veteran sheds light on his career.
You haven’t directed a film in a long while now.
If you’re talking about a feature film, yes, I haven’t in almost a decade. But I recently shot a 29-minute short film I Went Shopping For Robert De Niro in honour of the legendary actor who is also a friend of mine. I enjoyed making it but I don’t see myself directing a full-length movie anytime soon.
Would you agree that actors, after passing a certain age, find it difficult to garner acting offers?
Acting is not restricted to age because it’s not a set syllabus. Of course, you have to fight against the system and get what you think you deserve. Nobody’s going to hand it to you. I’ve been around for 30 years now and as an actor, I can tell you that not a single decade has been a smooth ride. There have always been ups and downs -- something I enjoy thoroughly (smiles).
Do you miss performing villainous roles?
(Laughs) To be frank, not at all. There is so much of negativity in the world that unless the villain is comically tuned, there’s no sense in portraying him. That explains why you don’t get a real evil character in films anymore. Due to the reach of technology, people are already seeing real blood, bullet and butchery on television and Internet that nothing scares them as such. So the onscreen villain had no option but to become comedic in nature. Any given day, the real-life villains -- including the politicians -- have become more real.
After Silver Linings Playbook, what’s happening on the Hollywood front?
There are some interesting projects happening and you’ll know it within a few months. The production houses involved have asked me not to spill the beans. As far as Hollywood is concerned, I’m receiving some amazing scripts that are not only challenging but also something I’ve never been expected to do before.
Of all the multi-faceted things you do, what do you enjoy more?
You can’t categorise life into this and that. My ultimate aim is to be happy, not just exist. Our existence is boring as it is so the thrill is to find mirth in simpler things. Whatever I do, I put everything in it. Or else, I just don’t do it.
What is the greatest difference you’ve noticed in the industry over the years?
There’s a heightened level of professionalism today. More importance is given to the technical aspects and people have started believing that acting can be taught as well. Rehearsals are back in fashion and value for others’ time is recognised too. The casting is streamlined as well. All these changes and much more make ‘now’ the most happening era of our industry. And oh yes, the audience has changed too.
In what ways?
Today’s audiences have way too many options. They can go to malls, theatres, amusement parks, game parlours and many such places to kill their time. They don’t depend entirely on cinema for entertainment any longer. These circumstances have put additional pressure on the filmmakers and the people involved in filmmaking. You can’t dare take public for granted. They won’t pay big bucks to catch your movie if it isn’t good enough.
Lastly, do you see yourself as an activist?
First of all, I don’t like being tagged as an activist. I’m just someone who speaks for himself every time there’s a need. I'm vocal because I’m in a position to make my voice heard and if I don’t put that platform to good use, what’s the point of having that position?