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Shekhar Kapur: ‘When Hansal asks you to act, you don’t say no’

Updated on: 03 May,2024 07:03 AM IST  |  Mumbai
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Shekhar reveals director Mehta offered him a pivotal role in Gandhi when he recently visited the London set; says he is keen to observe filmmaker’s approach to the subject

 Shekhar Kapur: ‘When Hansal asks you to act, you don’t say no’


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Shekhar Kapur: ‘When Hansal asks you to act, you don’t say no’

A happy coincidence, that’s what Shekhar Kapur pegs it down to. Last week, the filmmaker was in London to conduct auditions for his project when he learnt that Hansal Mehta is filming Gandhi in the city. A quick exchange of messages followed, and soon, Kapur was on the web series’ set, taking in the world of the Pratik Gandhi-led historical drama. “I love visiting the sets of filmmakers I admire to see how they work. To do a series on Gandhi ji, after everything that has been said about him, is impressive. I wanted to ask Hansal how he is approaching the subject,” he says.

He got more than he bargained for. Mehta not only gave him a ringside view of the ambitious series—based on historian Ramachandra Guha’s books, Gandhi Before India and Gandhi: The Years that Changed The World—but also offered him a role. Kapur laughs, “Hansal offered me a part in Gandhi, but asked me to keep it a secret. It’s a pivotal character, and I said yes.” Before he turned director with Masoom (1983), Kapur had started out as an actor, featuring in Jaan Hazir Hai (1975), Toote Khilone (1978) and more. Even as filmmaking took precedence, he kept the actor in him alive, starring in Govind Nihalani’s Drishti (1990). “I never say no to acting. When I want to act, I choose directors, not roles. They can give me any part they want. I don’t think I’m such a good actor, but what the hell? When somebody like Hansal asks you to act in one of his projects, you don’t say no.”

His visit may have been only an hour-long, but it was a fascinating experience to see Mehta shoot. “To make a film that does well is easy. But to make a film that does well, gets critical acclaim and one that you’re proud of, you have to be God’s child. Hansal is that. I couldn’t [gauge] his method in one hour; he was instructing his actors and filming. It will be fascinating to observe his process when I act in Gandhi. As an actor, I’d give myself without fear to a director like him.” What did he think of Pratik, who is fast becoming one of the finest actors in Hindi cinema? “I didn’t have time to interact with Pratik as they were filming an emotional scene. So, I said hello and left.”

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