Actor Anil Kapoor and Jackie Shroff have done 12 films together – a rare partnership between two male actors in the industry, and one that would be hard to find today. In an interview with Anupama Chopra, Anil Kapoor talks about this unique friendship, how they always had each other’s back and why it has endured over time. Excerpts:
Anupama Chopra: How many films have you done with Jackie Shroff?
Anil Kapoor: I think I must have done about over 12 or 14 films.
AC: You’ve done 12. Let me tell you the names. Andar Bahar, Yudh, Karma, Ram Lakhan, Kala Bazar, Parinda, Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja, 1942 A Love Story, Trimurti, Kabhi Na Kabhi, Lajja and Shootout at Wadala. You guys are the ultimate long-running jodi.
AK: I don’t think two leading men have done 12 films ever.
AC: There was talk of a remake of Ram Lakhan directed by Rohit Shetty. He said it never happened because no two leading men were willing to work with each other. How did you and Jackie maintain this relationship?
AK: I don’t think that’s true. If you write a good script, the actors will do it. I don’t know if they came to a stage where they wrote the entire screenplay. I must ask Rohit about this. Did they write the full adaptation and pitch it or just say that they were making Ram Lakhan? Today I think actors would want the entire script, especially if there are two leading men.
AC: But is there something that allowed you and Jackie to have such a long and enduring relationship professionally. Are you just very cool actors and secure actors?
AK: I think we both were very secure. We knew our pluses and minuses. I was always aware of my minuses. I don’t know about Jackie, but I was aware. I don’t have the presence and the sexuality that Jackie has, so both of us are the perfect foil to each other. Both of us would fill the frame and the filmmakers and the audience would get what they wanted from both of us. So what I couldn’t do, he could do, and what he couldn’t do, I could. I think that’s the reason we did so many films together and of course, nothing succeeds like success. All our films were very successful and we got comfortable and helped each other in our work and performances. We were friends and we really liked each other. Our wives got along really well and I still am as close to Jackie as I was when I started my career.
AC: That normally doesn’t happen. In the film industry when you’re working together you are friends and then you move on to the next thing.
AK: I used to land up at his house or call him up and say, ‘Why the hell are you doing this wrong film? Kyu kar raha hai tu yeh picture yaar? Barbaad ho jayega tu.’ Sometimes I used to call him up and say, ‘You must do this film.’ I remember, at Filmistan Studio I convinced him to do (Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s) Parinda. I spoke to him about the movie outside the makeup room and then the meeting was set. He heard one or two songs and said ‘Gaane kaun ga raha hai?’ Vinod said, ‘Tu nahi gaa raha hai, Anil ga raha hai. Tere koi gaane nai hai.’ And Jackie said, ‘Chalega. Anil gaa raha hai na toh mein karunga’. So that was the kind of relation we had.