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This year's Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles paid tribute to Anil Kapoor's three-decade career that is still going strong. At the opening night red carpet, Angilee Shah speaks with Kapoor about going international.
Anil Kapoor, the 30-year Bollywood veteran actor and producer who made his international debut as the dubious host of India's version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire says that he takes his career one step at a time.
Kapoor's take on "going global" actually has a much longer view. Since the success of Slumdog Millionaire, he has found a willing international audience; he's traveled with the film to the Golden Globes and Oscars, and recently was cast in the eigth season of the Fox series 24. But Kapoor was thinking about the global film marketplace long before Slumdog's success. Last weekend,at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles he debuted an English-language version of a Hindi film he produced called Gandhi, My Father. He spoke about the film and politics of language in a festival seminar.
"Instinctively, before Slumdog Millionaire could release, I made a film called Gandhi, My Father," he said. "The reason I wanted to produce the film was because it was in English and I knew that this is a language which the majority of the world understands and sees."
But Kapoor said, until they saw the success of Slumdog, his friends and colleagues discouraged him. They said that a movie about Mahatma Gandhi, told from the point of view of his embattled son, has to be in Hindi. It is a question of authenticity and question of what audiences are willing to accept.
Kapoor shot an English version of the film anyway. Scene by scene, he created two films at once. The Hindi version came out in 2007 and was a critical, but not a commercial sucess.
"And then Slumdog released," Kapoor explained. "And now everybody who told me not to do it in English said, 'You were right!' The world has accepted us speaking English and that's what it is. And what's wrong with it?" He is now looking for a distributor for the the film's international release.
While Kapoor is working to take Bollywood to Hollywood by letting Indian actors speak English, he also has much to say about the way American filmmakers draw from India's culture and asthetic. He took on a role in 24 in part because he wanted learn about Hollywood and the United States, "to understand the dos and don'ts and how everything works." He says American executives should spend more time in India as well.
"In five days, seven days, what can you grab?" he asked. "It will just give you a wrong kind of perspective."
Date Posted: 5/1/2009