Salman Khan calls Anil Kapoor the only replacement to Amitabh Bachchan: Why this comparison makes sense

Abhishek Srivastava

June 16, 2018 09:03:18 IST

If one were to look for synonym for ‘relevance’ in Bollywood’s lexicon, chances are that it might throw up Anil Kapoor as an option. His latest film Race 3 is the third in the Race franchise and while it has seen actors like Saif Ali Khan, Akshaye Khanna and John Abraham go in and out of the series, Anil is the only constant. While talking to media persons recently as part of Race 3 promotions, when asked about Anil, Salman Khan quipped that if there is any replacement to Amitabh Bachchan in the current era, it is only Anil Kapoor.

Anil Kapoor in a still from Race 3/Image from Twitter.

Anil Kapoor in a still from Race 3/Image from Twitter.

“His enthusiasm has not died off and the interest to work every single day is still there. He is the only person from his generation who has been working every single day and it’s the most remarkable thing,” said Salman. Salman also added that Anil has never belonged to Bollywood’s conventional definition of a hero. Full marks to Salman for summing up Anil in a few words.  

What Salman actually meant was that the veteran actor has successfully cracked the formula for staying relevant with his constant evolution. The urge to be part of the social media bandwagon is something which fails to figure in the priority list of actors who are way past 60. But for Anil, the hunger to connect with fans, the ability a tab on recent developments and a proactive approach are all reflective in his mannerism, through his social media connect. Be it his camaraderie with Salman when he tried to touch his feet at the trailer launch of Race 3 or selling sanitary pads at a store to Rajkummar Rao as part of Padman promotion only reflects his ease of mingling with the past, present and the future.

The range one gets to see in his filmi repertoire is nothing short of astonishing. From playing a tapori to a business tycoon, from a mentally challenged to an army officer, from a coy to a casanova – Anil has done it all. For someone who failed to crack the entrance test of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), the determination to succeed and come out with flying colors was overpowering. So dejected was Anil of not getting through the written examination of FTII that he had cornered the then chairman Girish Karnad and demanded an explanation for why the selection cannot be made purely on acting merit. It was this determination which made him sign films with inconsequential roles and keep waiting for that single chance to leave his impression. When he faltered in his initial attempts, he wasted no time in packing his bag and heading south. The period from 1978 to 1983 was a rough phase in the actor’s career and the successive failures could have broken the spirit of any actor but in the end, Anil’s perseverance proved to be a winner. With Woh Saat Din, he announced his arrival and with Yash Chopra’s Mashaal, there was no looking back.

An earlier story, which relates to showman Raj Kapoor, gives a glimpse into Anil’s dedication towards this craft. This was pre-Woh Saat Din days when because of his father’s proximity to the Kapoor clan, he heard the news that Raj had set the ball in motion for a film called Paramveer Chakra and was on the lookout for three actors. Without wasting a moment, Anil summoned his photographer friend and headed straight to the National Defence Academy, and through his connections, managed to procure attire of the army, navy and air force officers. The next few hours were spent clicking photographs against tanks and jet carriers. The next day, he waited patiently outside the famous cottage of Raj Kapoor at the RK Studios with the entire bundle of images that were clicked a day before. When he showed the images to the man, after a long glance at the images, the approval came in form of a nod. It was sheer destiny that despite being selected for one of the roles, the film was eventually shelved.

Despite having made his debut in 1978, the mustachioed actor could earn the tag of a breakout star only in 1983. The beginning of the '80s also saw actors like Sunny Deol, Jackie Shroff and Sanjay Dutt hit the marquee. But even after 40 years, while the sheen for most has waned, Anil has lost none of his appeal. The period between 1986 and 1990 saw films like Karma, Mr. India, Tezaab, Ram Lakhan and Kishan Kanhaiya which helped him inch slowly towards stardom. At the same time, with films like Eeshwar, Awargi, Parinda and Lamhe, he proved that here was a versatile actor who can handle meaty myriad roles. So potent had the charisma of Anil become at the box office that a few publications took no time in declaring him as the one who could dethrone Amitabh Bachchan from his pedestal. But the mega failure of Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja, a home production, put a brake on this juggernaut. Just to pay off the huge debt, he went ahead and signed films which looked like aberrations and did no good to his career. The reinvention soon happened when Virasat hit theatres and with films like Taal, Pukar and Nayak, he showed a very different facet to the audience.

The echo of the actor’s current reinvention could also be heard in Hollywood when he appeared in film like Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Slumdog Millionaire. It was sheer ill luck that the Amazon Series Oasis, which featured him in a pivotal role, failed to graduate into a full-fledged series. Anil has certainly amassed a body of work which entitle him to be one of the greats from Bollywood. It is a no-brainer that the third phase of Anil’s reinvention is currently on and one can only expect miracles in Fanney Khan and Total Dhamaal, not forgetting Race 3.

(Also read — Race 3 first impression: Salman Khan and Bobby Deol make this a funny, kitschy, audacious ride)

Updated Date: Jun 16, 2018 09:03 AM