In this two-part world exclusive, DEVANSH PATEL talks to Slumdog Millionaire star Anil Kapoor on his home-produced film, Aisha, which was inspired by Jane Austen's novel, Emma
ANIL Kapoor is the most eminently likeable rebel. He has been ruling the big screen for three decades and looks enviably young, as though he were in his late 30s. But then you see his two beautiful daughters who are in their 20s - actor Sonam Kapoor and producer Rhea Kapoor - and you start to question the age assumption.
But that's Anil, an easy-going dude who can make you slide down the sofa while interviewing him.
I remember the time I met him on the red carpet in London, at the BAFTAs when Slumdog Millionaire had been nominated.
Despite his increased fame since then, he came across as the same person when I met him at the Yash Raj Studios in Mumbai.
He relished the conversation we were having about his production of the film Aisha, which stars his daughter, Sonam.
He was dressed in a grey jacket, white shirt and black jumper, which fitted perfectly with his black jeans.
Anil offered me some chocolates along with a hot cup of coffee to make the interview more relaxed - just like him.
He stretched his legs, made himself comfortable and prepared to be candid.
DEVANSH PATEL: Do you think your popularity in the West will help Aisha garner more attention?
ANIL KAPOOR: If I was acting in it, probably yes, but Aisha stands on its own merit. It doesn't need my name or my presence to take it higher. It's right up
there at the moment. Even if I was not involved in this film, Aisha would still stand tall. I am not trying to sound biased here because both my daughters are involved.
DP: Aisha is a family affair. How emotional are you about it?
AK: I don't really have words for this question. It's a feeling I can't honestly express. It's so many emotions mixed into one. Sometimes I'm worked up, sometimes I am very detached, sometimes I am very aggressive and sometimes I am patient and compassionate.
DP: After watching Aisha, did you recall the days when your daughter Sonam was a teenager?
AK: Not only Sonam, but all the other characters in the film are relatable. It's a cultural mix of young dreams and values stuck in between. The characters in Aisha don't know where to draw the line and that is the grey area of the film.
Sometimes they overstep and sometimes they don't. Aisha is a perfect film for those youngsters who have their cultural values intact and are still known as 'new school with old school' mentality.
DP: You see the film working well in the overseas market?
AK: Of course, yes. The UK and the US are two big territories for our Indian films. Aisha will do well in both these countries because of its common factor - youth and their aspirations. The film's look is the first thing that makes the audience decide what the film is going to be like.
So far, we have got all positive response from the first look and a few trailers and even fantastic reports coming in after the launch of its music.
DP: Yes, the music is topping the charts too.
AK: That is thanks to Amit Trivedi, who has composed some of the most melodious tracks in recent times. The title track
Suno Aisha, Sham and Gal Mithi Mithi are being loved by all. It is Amit Trivedi's finest work so far.
DP: Are you motivating both your daughters so they rule the industry for three or more decades as you have done?
AK: (Laughs) At the moment, they are motivating me. Immediately after Aisha comes out, we've got a few more films which we will be bringing to our audiences. Aisha is Rhea Kapoor's film all the way.
DP: How different is it to see Sonam act in an ensemble film?
AK: I think any actor, including Sonam, flowers much more when they are in an ensemble film. Dil Chahta Hai, Rang De Basanti, Sholay, Deewar and so on are great ensemble films. Every character makes the entire film look real.
That's the good thing about seeing many actors contributing to make a film. And that's how the film script is written. Plus, if you are surrounded by good actors, it adds up to the film as one gets inspired and motivated to perform much better.
DP: What do you think about the quirky Abhay Deol?
AK: I don't think Abhay is quirky. He is a normal man with a great acting ability. It's just that 'quirky' is just an image he is enjoying right now with many of his films (laughs).
Abhay is like any other actor I've met since I started acting and what makes all the actors different is their individuality.
**Devansh's interview with Anil Kapoor continues next week