Ahead of the release of their neo-Western action thriller Thar on Netflix, the father-son duo of Anil Kapoor and Harsh Varrdhan Kapoor spoke about the making of their project, which is also the younger Kapoor’s debut as a producer. They also opened up about their dynamics off-screen while sharing anecdotes from their previous collaboration, AK vs AK.
Anupama Chopra: You’re like the eldest statesman who doesn’t behave like the eldest statesman, which is what makes you so cool.
Anil Kapoor: No no. I was doing the photoshoot [for Thar] when I said, ‘Harsh makes me look cool.’ In fact, earlier too, there were certain scripts like Dil Dhadakne Do and Slumdog Millionaire, where he played a big role in psyching me into doing them by giving me a different perspective. I was apprehensive of playing Priyanka Chopra’s father when he told me, ‘You aren’t her father in real life. You’re playing a role!’ Then I realized that it was, after all, just a character.
AC: What’s it like to work with your kids? Do you have to actively stop yourself from giving advice or being the dad?
AK: I think it’s easier to give advice to people who are not your kids. They’ll listen to you. Your kids generally won’t listen to you. But Sunita [Kapoor] always tells me that they do listen, so you should keep saying whatever you feel is right. Something will rub, something will work. So, we just keep going like a broken record if we think that there’s something that isn’t right, and then we move out – they’re the ones doing it.
AC: But on shoot, would you tell Harsh, ‘You’re not getting this right so you can try it another way’?
AK: I tried but he shut me down.
Harsh Varrdhan Kapoor (HK): That’s a lie!
AK: No, he didn’t shut me down but because he’s a very calm kind of a person, there were times when he did a couple of things where I, the director and the DoP [gave our suggestions] here and there. But overall, all of them were very well-prepared. Still, on-set, sometimes, the dynamics changed – the weather, the fellow actors, things not going right. You can’t control everything. So, with me being there, as cliché as it sounds, there was a sense of positive energy.
AC: You mentioned that when you saw Harsh doing that monologue in AK vs. AK, you understood that he’s a very brave actor. Can you elaborate on that?
AK: To be honest, if a role was offered to me where someone else was the lead while mine was just one day’s work, I would think 10 times, unless I was doing it as a favor – that’s a different thing. But to really do the character seriously, I would have to prepare well. Also, because he’s my son, people are more judgmental. If he goes wrong, they will come hammer and tongs. I was there in the film, Sonam [Kapoor] was there, and so was Harsh. Vikram [Vikramaditya Motwane] even wanted Rhea [Kapoor] and Sunita in the film, and I told him, ‘Vikram, tu zyada ambitious ho raha hai, mujhe toh mushkil lag raha hai.’ I knew Sunita wouldn’t do it. Rhea too said no and Boney [Kapoor] replaced her. Sonam and Harsh, on the other hand, individually said yes to the film out of respect for the film, the director and his work, not because of me. Harsh liked his role a lot. Personally, I wouldn’t have done that. Many big directors internationally have wanted me to do cameos but I’ve told them that it’s just two days of work, if I can’t do well at that time, not only will I be exposed, I’ll be exposed all over the world. (laughs)
HK: I also worked with Vikram for Bhavesh Joshi Superhero, and we worked for so long together. Eventually, I don’t really see it as, ‘I’m a Hindi film hero and this is my next move.’ There are so many great cameos like Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder and Brad Pitt in Thelma and Louise. The material was very different from Bhavesh Joshi and Mirzya. Those are more withdrawn, restrained characters, and this is somebody that’s desperate for attention. He’s willing to go to any length to impress Anurag [Kashyap]. I knew Vikram was kind of shooting it without the traditional wide and close, so essentially, I prepared for it with my acting coaches like it was a theater performance. I had to put a lot of work into it because I was well aware that despite the love that Vikram has for me, if the scene didn’t work, it’s not essential to the plot. So, it could’ve been one of those scenes that could get chopped out in the edit. I was really nervous and anxious. Thankfully, it went well and it’s something that I’m really happy with.