Sanjay Kapoor is one actor whose films have worked at the box-office, yet he hasn't received his due. With films like 'Sirf Tum', 'Raja', 'Auzaar', 'Shakti' among others to his credit, Sanjay has definitely created his own niche. And now the actor has taken the plunge as a producer with 'Tevar'. In an hour long conversation, Sanjay talks about 'Tevar', working with nephew Arjun Kapoor and much more. Read onâ€¦
Sanjay, in the past few years you have hardly acted in any films. What were you doing all this while?
I didn't set up a jewellery shop on Linking Road in Bandra(laughs). People only get to know of what they read in the newspapers. A film like 'Tevar' has been in the making for two and half years. We had been hearing various scripts for my first production. It wasn't that Amit Sharma was signed as a director in the first go itself. We had a lot of directors in mind and had to shortlist from them. Right from the music, to selecting the locations I had to be involved in everything. I feel shooting is the easiest thing to do in the film but the process before that is tedious. You have to hire the right man for the right job.
Then what took you so long to become a producer?
Back in 1998, I wanted to become a producer before 'Sirf Tum' had released. I thought I should get into production because I'm more practical and commercial. I always knew I'd be a good producer. Plus, I'm a people's person. I'm great at managing things. But when 'Sirf Tum' became a hit, I put my plans on hold.
Now that you have finally taken the plunge as a producer with 'Tevar', is there any pressure to deliver a hit?
There is a little pressure but at the same time I am happy that people loved the trailer and the songs. We are all very happy with the final product and hopefully the film will do well.
What makes 'Tevar' standout from the rest of the films?
Our father was a producer and as a kid I would sit with him and other learned people and they always had to say one thing- There are only two scripts in Indian cinemaâ€”Ramayan or Mahabharat. All the screenplays are revolved around these two great screenplays. The differentiation factor in 'Tevar' comes with its casting. Arjun hasn't done something like this earlier. We have also taken a new director (Amit Sharma) who has a fresh take on the subject. We haven't shot at exotic locations but the film is still mounted on a big scale and made it look different.
Was Arjun Kapoor the obvious choice for 'Tevar'?
We always wanted a young person to do the film and I feel in the younger generation of actors, only Arjun could fit the bill. He was the best choice. Even if the film was made by someone else I am sure their first choice would have been Arjun. It's not that he is cast in the film because he is my nephew.
Why do you say only Arjun could fit the bill?
When I was making the film, I realized that Arjun's body language is extraordinary while doing action scenes. Since hum bhi actor reh chuke hain, I realize that action is not just about jumping, running, kicking or doing a stunt. It's your body language which makes it look real and believable. He has done movies like 'Ishaqzaade', he is the only one in the young lot who has done this kind of film. He recently did 'Gunday' also and he was fantastic in it too. With 'Tevar' he has taken his performance to a different level. When I see the new actors, very surprisingly you see that they know everything and don't have any rawness but Arjun was an exception. With time he has improved his performance. I saw him performing live in front of the camera for the first time and I realised that he has reached a point of perfection.
Did you not think of coming back to acting with 'Tevar'?
'Tevar' was never put on floors with a thought that it could push my career as an actor too. Tomorrow if I feel that there is a role and I feel that I am a great choice for it then I will definitely take it. However, for 'Tevar' I felt that Manoj was a better choice for the role and hence I took him because for me, the film is more important than me coming in as an actor. With Manoj coming in, 'Tevar' suddenly looks all the more believable. He has this knack of bringing in a lot of respectability to the character. If I get a good role with a good director I will surely do it. I am doing 'Shaandar' with director Vikas Bahl.
Now that you spoke about Shaandar, please tell us how is it shaping up?
The film looks fantastic. We have two songs to be shot and I am very positive about the film. It was really amazing to work with Shahid (Kapoor), Alia (Bhatt) and Pankaj Kapur.
Do you feel bad that you haven't got your due as an actor?
I don't feel bad but I definitely believe I deserved more. I've done good films.
Your elder brother Boney Kapoor has been a successful producer. How much did he help you with your first production?
I am the most fortunate person because people who are not related to Boney come and take his advice. He has produced more than 40 films and some of them have been blockbusters. When I was an actor, he produced several of my films but I never saw him on the sets because I guess he was the first person who started producing five films at one time. I remember Boney would sit in the living room and make films on the phone! He would give instructions over the phone to his assistants on various projects. With 'Tevar', he was a hands-on producer. He knew it was my first film as a producer and it also had his son Arjun in it so he took special interest in the film. I hope he is always there to guide me.
Apart from Boney, Anil Kapoor is a producer too. Now that you have become a producer can we see you'll coming together to revive your father's production banner?
I don't think so because we are all individuals and we have got our opinions about what kind of content we would like to produce. When the three of us can manage on our own, make more films, and make our father more proud, why should we come together to make one film? (laughs).
Was Arjun pampered more on the sets?
Not only Arjun, but we pampered everyone on the sets. One thing that we have learnt from our father is to keep the unit happy. I think we pampered Manoj (Bajpayee) a little bit more (Laughs). Wo kehte hai na ki ghar ki murgi dal barabar (Winks). I took Arjun's advantage by using his vanity van all the time. I would eat my food in his van, steal the chicken tikka from his dabba, and do all my meetings in his van.
What kind of relationship do you share with Arjun?
I have got a lot of nieces and nephews but Arjun and I have stayed in the same roof for most of our lives. The bonding has always been special. I was the one who used to take him out. The first drink he had was with me. He has travelled a lot with me and the first time he went to a club was with me in New York. So I share a special bond with him. He's too close to me to not think of him as my nephew. There have been great moments and I have also fired him when he was young because of his eating habits (laughs).
What's next on cards after 'Tevar'?
I am listening to scripts but right now the entire focus is on 'Tevar'. It is my first film and it is the first time that Arjun is working for his home production.
Is there a possibility of Arjun not being a part of the films produced by you?
Yes it's possible. If I love a subject and Arjun doesn't fit the bill, I will go ahead and make it with other actors. I will not let go of a subject just because I can't cast Arjun.
Which is your preferred genre as a producer?
I want to make good films. I don't go with a frame of mind and say 'Arjun ke liye subject suna do.' I hear a subject and if Arjun fits in then great. I make him hear the script and it is him who has to decide whether he wants to be a part of the film. I have learnt this from Boney because as a producer he never asked directors or scriptwriters to make him hear a story which could have Anil or me in the lead role.
There are lot of films from the 90's which are being remade today. Would you like to remake any of your films which you think did not get its due?
'Prem' was one film which did not get its due. It was a great subject. In fact, others who got inspired by it made blockbusters but our film for some reasons did not work (Laughs). I guess it is all about the timing of the film. 'Prem' came at a time when my other film 'Raja' was releasing and people loved me in the song Ankihyan Milao which was a rage. 'Prem' was a reincarnation film and it looked old. The other film which was a surprise hit was 'Sirf Tum'. I remember when it released, no theatres were ready to show the film. They would say, 'Kaun jaygea Sanjay Kapoor aur Priya Gill ko dekhne.' But the content was so strong that the film worked. These subjects come once in a while and I would like to remake that too.
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