10 years of Slumdog: Anil Kapoor on his first brush with Hollywood

Updated: 02 December, 2018 16:07 IST | Shaheen Parkar | Mumbai

As Anil Kapoor joins the voice cast of Mowgli: Legend Of The Jungle, the actor reminisces his first brush with Hollywood in Slumdog Millionaire

Anil Kapoor
Anil Kapoor

Anil Kapoor is gung-ho at the fag-end of the day. He's had a marathon round of interactions for Mowgli: Legend Of The Jungle, which drops on Netflix on December 7. His enthusiasm is infectious, his energy unbridled when you catch up with him at a Juhu hotel. He wonders why you look tired. You mumble about a long day, a long wait and he is amused.

Kapoor turns a year older (or rather a year younger) on December 24. As it coincides with Christmas Eve, he usually has a bash. "I don't know if I will be celebrating this time, it might be a family affair," says Kapoor alluding to the sudden death of sister-in-law Sridevi in Februrary this year. "Elders in the house and mummy/daddy would always say if a marriage has been fixed, it should happen as scheduled, but other celebrations can be avoided." This is his way of explaining why daughter Sonam's wedding was held a little over two months after Sridevi's passing away.

A lot has happened this year for Kapoor personally and professionally. "It's been a busy one and I have been travelling a lot too. I was not in Mumbai during Diwali. We had a quiet celebration at Sonam's home in London." He has been zipping in and out of England as Sonam and husband Anand Ahuja have been based there for a while now. He flew in especially for the media interactions of Mowgli: Legend Of The Jungle in which he has given the voice for Baloo, the bear, in the Hindi version of the film. The original has director-actor Andy Serkis lending his voice to the sloth bear, whose most challenging student is Mowgli, based on Rudyard Kipling's classic, The Jungle Book.

Kapoor recalls that he had done a voice-over in Mr India (1987) in which he played an invisible character. "So there was this sense of familiarity. I have also done a voice-over for the Mr India ride at the Imagica amusement park." However, lending his voice in an animation film was special. "It was a unique and fulfilling experience dubbing for Baloo. I had an opportunity to work with some great technicians during Slumdog Millionaire and Mission Impossible: The Ghost Protocol when I had dubbed for some portions. They gave me a great perspective to dubbing. I had a cold and cough during Mission. It was used and the gruff voice added a new dimension to it. I have used whatever I had learnt during the making of these two Hollywood films. I also added my interpretation to Baloo. You have to match every emotion and facial expressions to the animal."

Mowgli: Legend Of The Jungle also sees him reuniting with Slumdog Millionaire co-actor Freida Pinto, who plays Mowgli's adoptive mother in the film. "My life has come full circle," he says. "Time has flown, it is 10 years since the release of Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire. We did the festival rounds before its release." It also took Kapoor to the Oscars and put India on the world map with several awards, including for composer A R Rahman. Kapoor terms those days as a "dream run" and led the way for his part in the Tom Cruise-starrer in 2011. It's well known that Boyle turned to Kapoor when other leading actors kept him waiting. The actor has several moments to cherish from his Hollywood outings. "I met a lot of people, a talented lot, which gave me a new dimension to my work."

On the Bollywood front, the actor was seen in Race 3 and Fanney Khan this year, both of which were panned by critics. Not one to be bogged down by damp squibs, Kapoor is now looking forward to his next, the comic caper Total Dhamaal, which has him reunite with Madhuri Dixit-Nene after a hiatus and Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga, which has Sonam as co-star. Total Dhamaal was slated to release this month but was postponed. "Now I have two releases in Februrary," he says. Both are special as he has an old bond with Dixit with whom he has given several hits and he teams up with Sonam in Ek Ladki... Though they are back-to-back, he will, tirelessly be part of the publicity blitzkrieg. Kapoor is always high on life and acting, he says, gives him the kick to keep going relentlessly.

Dev Patel and Anil Kapoor

The Gamechanger
Anil Kapoor played Prem Kumar, the game show host, in Slumdog Millionaire, an adaptation of the novel, Q & A, by Vikas Swarup

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First Published: 02 December, 2018 07:56 IST

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