“I want to act, teach and still learn,” Anupam Kher

By Neeru Saluja

Veteran actor Anupam Kher is an icon of the Indian film industry. With an ongoing 35 year career, 508 films till date, eight Filmfare awards and known worldwide for his roles in international films, he is now coming to Australia to share his incredible journey.

As AACTA launches the ”˜In Conversation Event Series’ featuring celebrated actors Anupam Kher and Shabana Azmi on 3 December, The Indian Down Under talked to actor Anupam Kher in an exclusive interview. We got talking about what we can expect from the event and the lessons learnt from his lifelong journey of cinema, arts and theatre.

It is an honour for your fans to have the opportunity to hear first-hand about your experience via this Series. Please give us a sneak peak to the conversation.

I have a body of work and a long journey which is still going on. I will talk about my life journey. I don’t hold back and shall speak whatever comes to my mind. I don’t want to plan the conversation. It will be about cinema, my highs and lows and my failures. Talking about success is boring. When I used to look for work I used to read a lot of autobiographies. I’ll talk about Indian cinema, Australian cinema and the large diaspora. I’m very excited and looking forward to the talk.

This is not your first visit to Australia and you are also performing in an upcoming play in December. Tell us a bit about your plays and your long association with Australia.

I have been to Australia many times. Last year I was in Adelaide for 40 days shooting for Hotel Mumbai starring Dev Patel. I’m also looking forward to performing for my play ”˜Mera Woh Matlab Nahi Tha’ with Neena Gupta. I have previously performed in Sydney for my one-man unique play ”˜Kucch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai. Australia always has a special connection and I love performing there.

You have also been recently appointed as the Chairperson for the Film and Television Institute of India. Does it feel like a comeback as you started their journey from the same institute?

I’m very happy and proud especially because I was a student here 39 years ago. I’m thankful to God to go back as a Chairperson. It is a great sense of achievement but also a huge responsibility. If I am able to help the educational institute and the students with my own experience, that would be really nice.

Talking about your experience, you have done a large repertoire of films and roles ranging from comedy to serious art house films. What would you call your highs and lows?

I would talk about that after 30 years when I’m thinking about retirement! The best thing about life is the surprises it brings. I’m a son of a Forest Department Clerk from the small town Simla. God has been very kind to me and made my journey so amazing. Today, after 33 years I can say it proudly that how many actors have done 508 films. How many actors have got the chance to write books? It’s God’s kindness and my belief in hard work and honesty. I shall continue to believe in these values.

You are also admired by Indian Australians here for your talk show ”˜The Anupam Kher Show’. What’s your inspiration behind this inspirational talk show?

It’s a show telling stories about inspiring people. Just because people have become successful, it doesn’t mean they have faced failures and disappointment. But when the common man sees the hurdles they have faced, their story inspires them and they can relate to their journey. The idea is to inspire people and in life ”˜kuch bhi ho sakta hai’ (anything can happen).

Basically, I love talking to people and knowing people. Every person has a story. Not only successful people have stories, but normal people also have stories. Everyone’s story is engrossing. That’s why the show works well.

Recently your story with actor Robert Di Niro was grabbing headlines! How was it meeting the famous actor?

It’s one of the major highlights of my life. As a student of theatre I have done my thesis on him. To be able to shake his hand and share screen space with him is an absolute honour. The movie not only gave me a good role but also a friendship with the greatest actor I have known. I was humbled when he invited me to his house for Father’s Day lunch, where only his family was present.

You have been fortunate enough to have worked on both sides of the world ”“ in India and internationally. What lessons do you take home after working with such big banners?

I have done nine projects so far in the international area and it’s been a wonderful experience. Just like a sportsperson is representing his or her country, I feel that I’m representing my country as an actor. Therefore, I want to give my best when I’m working on an international project. It is also a learning experience to meet actors, technicians and take the lessons learnt back to my acting school where I teach. Cinema is always evolving. There is always a possibility to learn more. We are running slowly somewhere.

Your roots are based in Chandigarh and Simla. Your wife Kiron Kher is now a local MP for Chandigarh, do share us some special memories from the city.

It was the first city I visited after my graduation. I’m a boy from Simla, a Kashmiri originally from Kashmir. I used to go to Kashmir regularly. My wife Kiron is now a MP from Chandigarh and has moved to Chandigarh from Mumbai since the past 2-3 years. When I met her, she was a star and sportsperson, even when we studied together. Chandigarh till date has a ”˜feel good’ feeling. I’m glad I met Kiron in the beautiful city and now we are married since 33 years.

On a closing note, what message would you like to give to our readers and what’s the mantra behind your ongoing 30 plus year journey in cinema?

My fans have given me great love in my 34 years. I always hope to do my best so you can feel proud of me. I’m looking forward to performing in the play and also be a part of the grand night on 6 December to celebrate Indian cinema, Australia cinema and Asian cinema.

There is so much to do in life. We all have the same 24 hours. I want to act, teach and still learn. It’s so beautiful to be alive. I love working. I don’t take life for granted or life seriously and that in itself is a lethal combination.

Follow the Link to buy tickets:

In Conversation: Shabana Azmi & Anupam Kher







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