In this world exclusive interview just hours after the BAFTAs, a euphoric Anil Kapoor talks to DEVANSH PATEL about his best awards night experience ever,dining with Clint Eastwood, and why he thinks that Slumdog Millionaire is truly a Bollywood film
WHEN Anil Kapoor signed on the dotted line to work with Danny Boyle in Slumdog Millionaire, little did he realise that the small but important role of a game show host would pay him big dividends in the months to come.
For three decades, Anil has slogged and sweated through the hard days only for his best and the biggest red carpet events to arrive all together in 2009 - The Golden Globes and the BAFTAs, with the Academy Awards (Oscars) soon to follow.
Though the weather played spoilt sport at the BAFTAs on Saturday, it couldn't drench the spirit of this authoritative acting expert who was suited in black Armani from top to toe, and who was once one of the most accessible actors but is now difficult to get hold of following the stratospheric worldwide success of Slumdog Millionaire.
It couldn't have got any more exclusive than this: the biggest event in the British film calendar, The Orange British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards (BAFTAs), was over two days ago, and your Harrow Observer columnist is still recovering from the excitement!
Q The whole of India wants to know, what was it like walking that red carpet at the BAFTAs?
A It was phenomenal and an absolutely fantastic experience. It was raining heavily, the weather was damn cold but the entire team of Slumdog Millionaire was feeling warm (laughs).
Q We also hear that you chatted quite a lot with Hollywood's great Clint Eastwood. Brief us a bit about that experience.
A Yes, that's true. We had dinner together and were discussing films till we finished our meal. Clint Eastwood is the most respected man in Hollywood today. What I liked about his work is that he does things on his own terms. All the actors in Hollywood want to work with him. We both shared with each other our experiences of how we started our career in films and so on. He is a great listener too. I spent a lot of time with him at the dinner table which will always remain special.
Q Any comments from Clint on the film or on your performance in Slumdog Millionaire?
A He loved the film and the performances. But what he did mention to me was that a film like Slumdog Millionaire has split wide open the doors for actors in the East to come join the West. There was a time during his peak when they had to rely heavily on actors only from Hollywood but he feels that even Bollywood has now made its big leap with such a film, thanks to Danny Boyle. He knows that Indian actors can act and win awards at the world's biggest award functions. He also predicted that Slumdog Millionaire might take $300million at the box office!
Q Do you think that Slumdog Millionaire is a Bollywood film then?
A It is completely a Bollywood film. The story is very Indian and so are all the actors. When I was offered to do Slumdog Millionaire, I didn't know who Danny Boyle was. For me, he was just a film maker who made films. People go to see people in films. So you tell me who were the people in this film? They were Indians. Some like me were professional actors, others were new comers, some were completely raw in their performances. But all had one thing in common - they were somehow connected to the Indian roots. Indian cinema should be very proud of Slumdog Millionaire.
Q While all the guests and nominees were escorted under huge umbrella, you went for a role reversal by holding your own umbrella on the red carpet. Why?
A I had an escort with an umbrella but the way he was holding it was getting me wet. I got hold of the umbrella myself so at least I could protect my suit and my hair (laughs).
Q Oscar night is almost ten days away. Any designers who are trying to dress you up for your biggest awards night ever?
A There are loads but I'll be sticking to ready-made suits. Like the one I was wearing at the BAFTAs was a creation by Armani. I will again go with the best in the business, Armani, for the Oscars.
Q Did you get emotional when AR Rahman and Resul Pookutty walked on the stage to collect their BAFTAs?
A We were all sitting together with all of us feeling excited, thrilled and at the same time, a bit emotional. I met both of them during dinner where I showered my emotions on them by hugging them tight. It was a proud moment for all three of us who represent the Indian Film Industry popularly known as Bollywood. Resul had earlier worked on my film Gandhi My Father for which, I think, he should've won an Oscar. But sometimes there is something better and bigger in store for you. You have to be aligned doing consistently good work and that's what Rahman and Resul have done. When you're consistent about your work, not thinking what the result is going to be, and you keep on doing good work, someday you will be rewarded.
Q Will Slumdog Millionaire's success change the fate of Bollywood and Hollywood for good?
A A hopeful change, I must say. Everybody has to take a broad minded and a positive attitude towards what has happened with Slumdog and embrace its success. If people, and by that I mean everyone connected to film making, try to put the film down or condemn it, then they will miss this golden opportunity.
Q Any Hollywood celebrities you met and mingled with inside the famous Royal Opera House in Convent Garden?
A Now this has been one of my big moments in life. I met most of the Hollywood stars like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Mickey Rourke and Kate Winslet. I also congratulated Penelope Cruz. It was just a quick introduction to them. But what I found was so touching about all the names I've just mentioned is, the bigger and richer you get as an actor, the more humble and down to earth you are. Everybody connected with films all over the world knows everybody connected with Slumdog Millionaire. But I'd like to mention that the one person who was dearly missed at last nights BAFTAs was the late Heath Ledger. I would've loved to meet him.
Q Slumdog Millionaire led the BAFTAs with seven awards followed by three awards for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Are you guys ready to sweep the Oscars too?
A We are not thinking too much about the Oscars. At the moment, we are only going to celebrate our BAFTA success. Come February 22, things will again get serious (laughs).