An inspiring voice

in conversation
Last Updated 22 August 2015, 18:38 IST

Think Anupam Kher and the image that instantly comes to one’s mind is a plethora of memorable characters that he has portrayed in his 33-year-old career as an actor. Now there is another role that he has effortlessly slipped into — that of a popular talk show host.

While he did make a mark with his earlier chat shows, the latest season of Kuch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai has created quite an impact on television viewers. Though the first season was also well-received, the second season — with celebrities including Asha Parekh, Waheeda Rahman, Gulzar, Suresh Raina and Priyanka Chopra — seems to have become a popular topic of discussion.

Secret of success

Explaining the concept for the new season, Kher says, “The basic premise is the same but this time the set is bigger. The main intention is to come up with a show that inspires people. I am trying to bring celebrities who had led a normal life once, struggled a lot and reached the place they are today. They come to my show to talk about their long journeys. I want to attract young viewers who idolise these celebrities, and I am sure that after hearing their stories, youngsters will be inspired to overcome their difficulties.”

Kher shares the example of actress Priyanka Chopra. “She shared stories about the tough time she had in the US. The way she handled racism was an amazing achievement. That made her the strong person she is today. Cricketer Suresh Raina also shared his struggling cricket days with us. I am positive that these kind of stories and incidents can really boost the morale of the youth of today.”

However, Kher’s talk show never highlights the controversies faced by these famous personalities. Speaking about the reason for this, the actor says, “I am a positive person. I love my job and will never call people on my show to ask them uncomfortable questions. I am often asked if celebs turn down my offer to be on the show or if I plan to invite people whom I dislike. I have always tried to focus on the good in others and always look towards the future. I never went back and that helped me in my career. I am a people person.”

Ups & downs

How about an episode with Anupam Kher himself on the hot seat? “I would be happy to participate as a guest. I have no qualms in sharing my life with the audience. The USP of the show is honesty from both sides — host and guest.” So, from where does Anupam get so much motivation in life? “I have learnt a lot from people. I am a speaker and have given speeches in universities like Berkley, Cambridge and Oxford. I spoke on the power of failures and I also add a lot of humour in my talks so that makes it more interesting.”

Kher was born in Shimla and had a long struggling phase when he came to Mumbai to become an actor. Remembering those days, Anupam says, “I came with a dream of acting in Mumbai. I was bald at that time also. People used to make fun of my looks and now my bald look has been appreciated as sexy. I didn’t have a place to live in the city and there were days when there was nothing to eat. I have also spent many nights on the platforms in Mumbai.”

Talking about his first hit film Saaransh, Kher shares an anecdote. “People are only aware about my selection for the role, but before that I was asked to leave the film as the producer wanted a stylish person for the character. I had made up my mind about going back home and taking up a job as a teacher. However, before taking a call on the matter, I wanted to meet director Mahesh Bhatt and vent out my frustration. I did that and after hearing me out, Bhatt saab called the producer and told him that only I can portray the character in Saaransh.”

Currently, Kher is also riding high with the success of his play Mera Vo Matlab Nahin Tha, which also stars Neena Gupta, directed by actor Rakesh Bedi. Talking about the success of the play, Kher says, “It has been amazing so far. This play is a tribute to the theatre culture in India. The other day I was thinking that my play is the Bajrangi Bhaijan of theatre, as the tickets for the play have been sold out before the show and I am so happy.” Kher will be seen in Sooraj Barjatya’s next Prem Ratan Dhan Pao with Salman Khan and Sonam Kapoor and also in Neeraj Pandey’s film — a biopic on Mahendra Singh Dhoni, where he is playing Dhoni's father. 

So, what are Kher’s Kuch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai incidents from his own life? “There are so many. When I was in Class 7, when I fell down on my face and got a cut in my tongue, I started stammering. After rigorous practice with the help of certain techniques, I overcame stammering. And then, during the making of Hum Apke Hai Kaun, I suffered from facial paralysis. Working with Robert De Niro in a short film and meeting him was nothing short of a wonder. I am going to the US soon and just the other day he actually mailed me and invited me for dinner. So all these achievements and incidents are Kuch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai moments for me.”

(Published 22 August 2015, 14:07 IST)

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