Playing ordinary person is very tough: Anupam Kher on ‘Shiv Shastri Balboa’

Sunday, 5 February 2023 (21:44 IST)
New Delhi: The most versatile Indian film actor, who has played variety of acclaimed characters, Anupam Kher, who is now all set for the release of slice-of-life film ‘Shiv Shastri Balboa’, feels that sometimes ordinariness is extraordinary, and playing an ordinary person is very tough.
The movie revolves around Shiv Shastri, a retiree from India and a big ‘Rocky’ movie fan who moves to the US and ends up on an unexpected road trip through the American heartland which teaches that it's never too old to reinvent yourself. The movie is all about the protagonists Anupam Kher (Shiv Shastri) and Neena Gupta (Elsa Zachariah), and the guts it takes to chase after their dreams, stand up against injustice, and stick to their convictions with tenacity in the face of adversity, and how they become champions in their own right!
In an exclusive interaction with UNI, Anupam talks about the film, friendship with Neena Gupta, his stardom, young writers, etc.
On what made him say yes to the movie, the 67-year-old actor said, “It’s a great role. It’s a story of courage, rediscovering and reinventing yourself. It’s a story of sense of joy, and going beyond your boundaries. It’s a story of helping someone without any reason, without any benefit to your own self. And my personal philosophy is that ‘you never retire’, matches with the story of this film, that you are not retiring but re-tyring yourself.”
‘The Kashmir Files’ actor said that playing an ordinary person is very tough. “Sometimes ordinariness is extraordinary. To be able to be ordinary, there is a great extraordinary quality in it. An an actor being an ordinary person, playing an ordinary person is very tough. Because no one notices an ordinary man—like there is a crowd on a street, or a railway platform, you do not turn back and look at a person. So, I have learnt that from this character,” he said.
Talking about the sweet friendship between Elsa and Shiv Shastri, the ‘Aiyaary’ actor said, “to be very honest, I have never seen it in that manner. For me it was a purpose of dropping her (Elsa) to the airport from Ohio, which is a 14 hour bus drive, and she loses her passport and belongings. And then also Shiv Shastri says that I will take you, because it’s a dream of her to go back to India. But yes, without having a friendship between a man and a woman in Indian cinema, without any other kind of chemistry is not seen, but there is a pure platonic friendship, between the two of them.”
If he is enjoying the ‘purple patch’ of his career, Anupam said, “Yes, I have enjoyed every phase of my life. I enjoy life, I live life. I come from a family where people were happy. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t feel low, depressed, sad, low, or frustrated, but this is a great thing to have happened. I am always grateful to god. Every morning I get up and thank god for giving me this opportunity for being an actor, a teacher. So I am very happy.”
Films like ‘Uunchai’ and ‘Shiv Shastri Balboa’ are a testament that Indian cinema doesn’t only need young actors to do meaty roles.
On being asked if things have changed for senior actors, Anupam said, “we live in a very cliched world. We always want to slot people into categories. Similarly we need to break those moulds. And that is now allowed to happen, because the audiences have changed. Audiences are different in today’s time. They are looking at life in a different manner. And because they have gone through change in these two years of Covid and lockdown, so they don’t like fakeness. Even if it is a larger than life cinema, it has to touch their heart.”
“So, today you can make films, means look at the poster of this movie, we haven’t thought 10 years ago, there would be posters like this. I am a poster boy, which is fantastic. To be very honest, to make it strikingly like this, that was my idea. I thought that let’s go all out, and not make it very inspirational, or preaching kind of story. Let people also feel that this is also a kind of possibility, without changing the main character of the film,” he shared.
Anupam who has a long career featuring in 532 films, predominantly in Hindi cinema, and many plays, says the stardom he is getting now is fantastic.
“As an actor, I always used to feel that I am very happening, because I am a trained actor, drama school’s product, done theatre, read books, run an acting school, most of my films have done well. I have done some iconic characters. But this is beyond that. When young writers create roles for you, then it’s a fascinating feeling, that you have ‘arrived’. I am saying it with humility and not with arrogance. If some older writer was writing about me, then I will think that he is seeing himself in the character and writing it. But 28-30 year old writers coming to you and saying that this is a lead role for you sir, it’s fabulous,” he said.
The ‘ChaalBaaz’ actor also gave five reasons to watch ‘Shiv Shastri Balboa’. “Firstly, it has me and Neena Gupta. We have proven our record and we are doing well. Secondly, if you want to see a family film then it’s the right kind of movie. Thirdly, it’s inspirational and makes you laugh. It also makes you tear up. Fourth, it makes you find the hero within yourself. And lastly, it’s a happy film about an unhappy situation of life, sometimes,” he said.
The ‘Saudagar’ actor also called the ‘pug’ in the movie- ‘brilliant’. “A famous director once said, that when there is an animal, or a small child in the movie, don’t act in front of them, because nobody is looking at you. He was very irritating to work with, but in the film, he is unreal. He wokes all kind of sympathy, and love,” added Anupam.
‘Shiv Shastri Balboa’ is an inspirational film of a common man with uncommon adventures starring Anupam Kher, Neena Gupta, Jugal Hansraj, Nargis Fakhri, and Sharib Hashmi.
It will release in theatres on February 10. (UNI)

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