Anil Kapoor makes his digital debut with Amazon Originals’ new sci-fi drama pilot, The Book Of Strange New Things, based on the book by Michael Faber. The one-hour pilot is set to be written and executive produced by Matt Charman (Bridge Of Spies) with Kevin MacDonald (The Last King Of Scotland) directing. Here, the actor talks about his digital debut…
What made you say yes?
I like to keep re-inventing myself. I like to put myself in a situation where there is a possibility that I can fail. Acting in English is so scary. You can’t keep on working with people you know. You may fail in an unfamiliar format and I know I am petrified today about working in The Book of Strange New Things. But when I am petrified, it pushes me to challenge myself further. I like to push my boundaries!
So, when I get an opportunity to push myself I grab it. Like I did with my first Hollywood film Slumdog Millionaire where I played an anchor and had to suddenly speak in English. I did 24 and could have failed there on the small screen, but I just worked harder. When I did Mission Impossible, I was scared again. Though it was a huge success, it was a small cameo.It wasn’t a lead role and I had to do my best to stand out. I admire all the famous character actors like Paresh Rawal, Naseerudin Shah, Pankaj Kapur and Ben Kingsley. Doing different things is the only way I can sharpen my skills and not stagnate as an actor.
You haven’t attempted science fiction before…
This was a scary factor for me. Now, thanks to this, I am seeing all those sci-fi films and understanding what it is about. I have seen Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars, but that’s about it. I am a boy from Chembur, what do I know about such people? I just knew that Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon. But now, slowly when I watch sci-fi cinema, I enjoy it more. By the way, Sonam has read the book and loved it.
Are you playing a grey character in the web series?
I will say that Danesh is a very complex character, so that makes it more interesting and exciting. I feel challenged and excited as an actor. It’s a completely alien zone for me and that’s also the biggest advantage. I was speaking to Shekhar Kapur about it and that I am getting to work with some of the world’s best creative teams. The director and producer are Oscar winners and the writer is an Oscar nominee. These are people who are respected all over the world. I feel very strongly that streaming is the future of the world, so why not stick out my neck now and see what happens? I am getting this opportunity to work with some phenomenal talent, so ghus jao!
Would you do a bold streaming series?
My role is the most important thing to me as well the people around it who are at the helm of affairs. Those are my priorities — the producer, director, studio and my role, then I go into the content. It can be anything from the simplest one to the boldest. It has to excite me, and if it does, I will do it. To see how bold my role is, is not my criteria as an actor. I just go with my instincts. I loved the story of the show and I said yes.
What is next for your television production after 24?
I’m fully into the production phase now with the Indian versions of Modern Family, Prison Break and the third season of 24.Anil Kapoor: I didn’t want geniuses on my show, 24!
Your 24 won six trophies at the Indian TV awards. Were you expecting it to do so well?
No. I didn’t expect it this time. I thought they wouldn’t give it to me as I didn’t attend. Sometimes, you can guess whether they are genuine or not and you can tell them from before so getting so many was a pleasant surprise. I couldn’t attend the event as I was at the International Children’s Film Festival in Jaipur.
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