Anupam Kher In Hong Kong: An Interview

By on June 19, 2015

HKYantoYan got a chance to speak with the legendary Indian actor, a superstar, Padma Shri award recipient, down to earth and superbly funny- Anupam Kher in Hong Kong. When we heard about him coming to Hong Kong to perform his play ‘Kuch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai’, we jumped at the chance to interview him and ask him questions about his life as an actor and his plans ahead.

Anupam Kher in Hong Kong

HKYantoYan: Congratulations! This year you complete 31 years in Bollywood. Looking back to when you started – how have you changed?

Anupam Kher: When you spend so many years in any field, the one thing is that you have to do is to enjoy the journey. The journey is more important that the destination, and I’m enjoying it. People have changed, cinema has changed, the country has changed. I have changed, as my understanding of life is different now. I am less insecure as an actor now so I can just let go and start working on my scripts.

HKYY: What has remained the same?

AK: The person… the small town person has remained the same.

HKYY: How do you pick your roles? Is there any method – who do you consult with?

AK: No, there is no method. Sometimes it is a good role, or I’m friends with the director. Other times I just want to work or there is good money involved.

HKYY: You have been doing the play ‘Kuch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai’ for the last 10 years. At the same time – it’s a autobiographical play. Your work has become more diverse in the last 10 years – how has that changed the play?

AK: The play format has remained the same. However, at the end of the play we have a scroll showing the high points of the past 10 years. Because I have performed the play so many times, it’s become easier to perform – but writing-wise the play remains the same. It’s like doing any other play whether its Strindberg, Chekhov or Shakespeare -we don’t change the play. But whatever high points that have happened in my life comes onscreen at the end on the scroll.

HKYY: Monologue plays are known to have a serious tone – however this play is known to be funny. Was this a deliberate decision or it just came naturally to you?

AK: This is the funniest play! I look at life from a comic point of view. At the end of it, you need to entertain the audience, not bore them to death. They have come to have fun and should enjoy the play. They don’t have to listen to someone’s sobs story… they have enough sob stories in their personal lives!

HKYY: What has been the most challenging character you have played? Tell us more about it.

AK: I produced and acted in a film called, ‘Maine Gandhi Ko Nahi Mara‘. It was based on Alzheimer’s disease. That was one of the most difficult roles I have ever played as I had no knowledge on Alzheimer’s and I wanted to do it authentically.

HKYY: How did you prepare for it?

AK: I did some research on Alzheimer’s. I met a lot of people and watched a lot of documentaries and what I discovered was that Alzheimer’s doesn’t have any physical symptoms. I realized that I just had to capture a vacant expression in people’s eyes and use that in my acting, but that was very difficult as I am a very animated actor.

One day I went to the beach at around 4:35 in the morning when there was nobody there. I tried to imagine that I didn’t know who I was.  I don’t know how to swim so I thought let me walk towards the sea and see if I will let myself drown or not. So as I was doing this mind exercise, there was split second where I really forgot who I was… and then I threw up! That image stayed in my mind like a photograph. The consequenses of the study were not good. Now whenever I forget something, I think to myself that it’s the first stages of Alzheimer’s.

Otherwise work goes in every film, I don’t take myself so seriously and I don’t take life so seriously. I enjoy doing whatever I do and that enjoyment gets translated to the audience. It’s very easy for me to impress you right now and say that I go into the depth of my emotional trauma but that’s not the truth. I think an actor’s job is not different from  a carpenters job. The carpenter puts in as much work, but the actors gets interviewed and get carried away. I don’t have to see how an alcoholic behaves because I have seen an alcoholic somewhere or the other and emotions are the same. Yes, if I have to play a historical character, I would like to research on it but most of the time you have to act based on emotions.

HKYY: What would be one character you would like to play?

AK: I’ll answer this question after 30 years. I have 30 years of work still left!

HKYY: We loved you in Bend it like Beckham, Bride & Prejudice and more recently –Silver Lining Playbook. Will we get to see more of you in Hollywood?

AK: I lost out to two interesting projects which were to start in August-September, and one of the project was a very good. But I have committed to do my play in America. That’s the commitment you make to theatre and you can’t do anything about it.

HKYY: Tell us about Sense8? The trailer looks extremely gripping.

AK: I just spoke with Tina yesterday (main lead from sense8). She said it’s phenomenal! I play Tina’s father in the series. There are 8 people in various cities who connect with each other and I play a regular father’s role, but the directors make a lot of difference. I have great respect for the Wachowski brothers (“The Matrix” trilogy, “Cloud Atlas”). They have an unbelievable mind, so I am looking forward to it.

HKYY:  Even though India has a lot of talented people, it is difficult to make it big in Bollywood as a director and find financiers. What do you think about that?

AK: Why should it be easy? The problems of a man working at the dockyard will be much bigger and more real than the director looking for a financier. It’s difficult, but that’s life. However, I feel that if you work hard and if you are honest and you don’t give up, all dreams come true – you can do anything.

HKYY: The Kashmiri Pandits have been struggling, protesting and trying to find their way back home. Being a Kashmiri Pandit yourself, you have been actively invested with this issue. Do you think it is heading towards a constructive solution?

AK: It’s been a long struggle, but we have to continue. It took 200 years for India to get independence. We have to keep working on it. It’s more of a political issue and I think they can sort it out. I have good faith in the current government and hope to see some positive results.

Want to watch Anupam Kher in Hong Kong? He performs his acclaimed play ‘Kuch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai’ on Tuesday, 2nd June at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Only a few tickets available, click here for the tickets and info.

Watch the promo video below:

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Kannan Ashar

Having lived most of her life in Hong Kong, Kannan moved to Bombay, or as some call it, Mumbai, 7 years ago in the mindset to pursue her studies in fashion designing but fate had other plans and she went ahead with advertising as her major. Being a typical NRI, living in Bombay was one of the most challenging yet exciting parts of her life. After working within the lifestyle media in Bombay for 3 years, life brought her back to her first and only home, Hong Kong.

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