Anupam Kher is thrilled that his role of Dr Patel in Silver Linings Playbook directed by David O Russell is being appreciated. He talks about the experience of working with the likes of Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence and is gearing up to root for his film.
How does it feel to be part of a film that has eight Oscar nominations?
It is definitely the greatest moment of my life. I feel that I have been able to bring out my experience of 28 years of working in Hindi cinema in front of an international audience. I just got the news that we won the Critics Choice award for Best Acting Ensemble Award and Bradley Cooper said that he couldn’t have been there collecting the award if I and the rest of the team had not given such stellar performances. I have also booked my ticket and am looking forward to attending the Oscar function at LA on February 24.
How was the experience of working with such an excellent team?
The journey has been amazing so far and I have learned so much. Seeing veteran actors like Robert De Niro start from scratch for every scene pushed me to better my performance. The work culture was more than professional as not only everyone worked in tandem with each other but the actors would make it a point to be there even if their scenes were not being filmed.
The day I stepped on the sets of the film, I knew that I had to earn my respect and could not rest on my past laurels as unlike back home people were unfamiliar with my acting style.
Do you think Bollywood’s international appeal has increased in the last few years?
The success of Slumdog Millionaire has put us on the international stage. Bollywood is definitely on its way but it took some time to mature in its current form. There is more professionalism, exposure and exploration in the industry.
But why has an Oscar eluded Bollywood so far?
We need to make absolute original Indian films that reflect the reality of our times. The problem is that very few Indian filmmakers remain rooted and have the courage to tell our native stories. So, at the end of the day there remains nothing distinctive about our cinema and everything boils down to a marketing gimmick. Most of the filmmakers after making their first film follow the rat race of getting a bigger star or reaching out to a larger audience. Somewhere down the line, they compromise on what they believed in when they started off as filmmakers.
Indian cinema has clicked at the Oscars but not Bollywood movies…
You are talking about regional cinema that allows you the freedom to remain true to your soil and local flavour. The world wants to explore a culture, a way of life, and a story that they have never seen before. If you talk about Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali, it is set in a village with an eye for the minutest detail that brings out the beauty of its settings. India, of course, has moved on a lot since those times and become more modern but our ethos remains the same. A film like Vicky Donor talks about a modern reality but in an entertaining fashion. So, these kinds of films are a heartening indicator of the future.