Seems like versatility is Anupam Kher’s middle name, and we aren’t just talking about his roles in films
but the many other ‘characters’ he played in real life. He is an actor, a
teacher who also runs a premium acting institute, was the chairman of the
Central Board of Film Certification, and the National School of Drama, and an author
too. He, however, refuses to slow down. Kher, who has acted in more than 500
films including Bollywood and Hollywood, says “abhi to interval hai (It’s just an
intermission)”. In a candid chat with Opoyi, the actor talks about
his humble start, failures and much more.

thrills the man, who has donned so many hats in over 35 years of career?
“I am excited about being alive.”

think we give too much importance to the fact that one person can do so many
things. We only use 10 per cent or 20 per cent or may be less than that of our
brain. If you don’t have the fear of failure and you are an eternal optimist
then you can keep on doing lots and lots of things. I love to work on various
things and I think it’s important because with position comes a sense of
responsibility so when I took  up the chairmanship of NSD or FTII or CBFC,
I thought I was given the responsibility and I should fulfill that. Also
writing a book or running a school is related to my own profession and it’s not
a big deal. I am excited about being alive, I am excited about doing things, I
am excited about my journey… from where I have to come to which position I
have reached,” the actor says.

a son of forest department clerk to 515 films, recognition and awards, the
actor from the small town of Shimla has surely come a long way. “It’s a
very exciting journey and that could only happen because I wanted to
plunge into things. With all due respect to everybody because we celebrate
mediocrity and somebody doing little better than mediocrity, we feel oh my god
how can he do so many things, but that is the problem.”

don’t worry about what people will think. Also, in something’s I succeed and
sometimes I don’t. When I initially started to do business a long time back in
early 2000, I flopped miserably and nothing worked out. I was almost on the
verge of bankruptcy but it’s fine. I enjoy every single role that I do and not
only that of an actor but of a teacher, of a mentor and of a person who can be
a motivational speaker because my reference point is my life,” says the “A
Wednesday” actor.

gave him courage to play a  65-year-old in his debut film “Saraansh” at 28? “I wanted to do role that can
establish me as an actor,” he says, adding that “Only illiterate
people can think like that (of only taking role of their age at the start of
career) and the ones who has no training in the acting or don’t know about
world literature or cinema. I took the training for 4 years and I wanted to do
role that can establish me as an actor. This thought never came in my mind
infact I was amazed to see that I got to perform the role of a 65-year-old when
I was 28. I thought if I can pull up this role then my life is set. Infact now
I am that age but I don’t look the way I looked in that film. I look younger
and different.’

is about courage and taking risks. Life is about not worrying about the
failures,” Anupan Kher says.

65-year-old actor goes on to explain why choosing “Saaransh” was
“easy” for him. “If I had done say about 4-5 films of
Rajshri Production or some other people I would have been a miserable flop. In
this film, I just had to depend on acting – something that I knew so I chose a
path which  was easy for me, a decision which was easy for me because I
needed to apply what I had learnt and that would have happened only in a film
like ‘Saaransh’.

vs now, what has changed for actors today? “I was not choosy because I was
the beggar,” says Kher, who carefully ‘chooses’ his words but prefers not
to mince them.

would have done anything. Now the scene is entirely different. Previously
people could survive for 30 years with good films or bad films… but now
people have multiple choices but at the end of the day it’s your work that
makes you last longer. Do you remember how many films earned Rs.100 crore last
year? But you do remember which film was good.”

after scoring five centuries in the industry, you are still
raring to go like a newcomer… what’s the secret energy mantra of Anupam Kher?

so exciting to get up in the morning and say oh I am alive. You have to look at
life from a prism of optimism. There are some people who have everything and
they are still cribbing constantly. For me, my reference point is those Rs. 37
which I came here with and from that point of time I am now a multi
millionaire. I am so lucky that you are talking to me about my life journey.
There is life that I have. I don’t want to live a life full of fear that’s why
everything I do is full of enthusiasm.”

caveat from him: “I don’t say that a positive person never gets depressed
but you have to get up and say that I am awake and alive and that’s a luxury
that the God has given you.”

says he isn’t living in the fear of losing.

one who panics is the one who gets everything in fluke. Whatever I have earned
is my hard work and it’s not monetarily but otherwise too. My grandfather used
to say that A man who is drenched is not afraid of the rain and that’s the

spent over three decades in the industry, a major change that you see? Technology,
he says and was quick to explain why.

think the change that has come into lives is technology and I am happy that
I am in the time where I have seen both the sides. When there was no mobile
phones, there was no vanity vans , there was human connections between people ,
there was a time when I used to remember more than 400 phone numbers , I don’t
remember more than 4 now. Ofcoure the point is that we can talk like this, and
have face time is the biggest advantage but human connection has
minimized. I will have lifetime of friendship with actors like Anil Kapoor,
Jackie Shroff, Mithun Chakraborty  because we spent good amount of time
with each other after shoot but now the moment shoot gets over, people get on
phone and I am not saying with the sense of bitterness, I am saying with the
sense of truth.

there is a lack of “trust” too. “In the past we used to sign
contracts after finishing the picture but now we sign contracts of pages
50-200 beforehand so there is no trust . Initially there were no scripts. I did
450 out of 500 films without a script. There was magic in the films of the 90s
.There are good films in today’s time too,” he says, adding that “the
changes that one can see in society is the change we see in cinema but yes it’s

played some of the most remarkable characters, is there a role you’re still
itching to do? Oops, we are in hurry, he is not.

have not even reached the interval right now. I will answer this question after
25 years. It’s just a start for me now,” the actor says.

a “proud Kashmiri” who has been very vocal about his stand
on abrogation of Article 370 that gave special status to the state of
Jammu and Kashmir, calls it a “great change”

think it itself is a great change and not only for Kashmiri pundits but for
dalits, Muslims and for everybody. First of all article 370 should not
have been there as it was a mistake and it should have  gone back a long
time back. Why shouldn’t people of Kashmir enjoy the infrastructure,
development, hospitals, educational institutions which are there in the rest of
the country. Why should a bunch of 5-6 separatist send their own children
abroad and make other children poor people the outcome of their own personal
agendas so all these things have changed,” Kher said adding that
“Change is  silent.”

am happy that it has happened, it should have happened a long time back and we
will see that when the coming generation will understand this then they will
say ,’ Oh there was Article 370 also,” he says.