Written by Ektaa Malik | Updated: August 27, 2018 12:05:46 am Sanjay Kapoor
He was the lesser-known Kapoor brother. But when you meet him, Sanjay Kapoor delivers famously on the charm and hospitality, that the Kapoor family is famous for. He insists on having lunch to make up for our long drive to Manesar. The actor, who for many years, was relegated to the spot of Anil and Boney Kapoors sibling, is now enjoying a successful second coming. He has the hit TV show, Dil Sambhal Jaa Zara, under his belt and a critically acclaimed role in Netflixs Lust Stories. “I am enjoying it. Der aaye durust aaye,” he says with a smile during a conversation at Hyatt Regency. He was in the Capital to shoot for his upcoming web series.
Son of film producer Surinder Kapoor, Sanjays fascination with filmmaking started early but he made sure he went to college first. “We grew up in Chembur and were quite close to the Raj Kapoor family. Its all thanks to my father that we got such great exposure to the film industry. When I got a first class in college, my father was very surprised. However, I decided to venture into films,” says Sanjay, 52.
He made his debut in Prem, a love story with reincarnation in tow. It was to be directed by Shekhar Kapoor, who was then riding high on the success of Mr India. It was eventually directed by Satish Kaushik and finally released in 1995 after being in the making for six years. In the intervening years, Sanjay began working in three more films: Raja, Kartavya and Bekaboo. “In 1995, three of my films released and the subsequent January had a fourth one. I remember that before Prem released, Ramesh Taurani of Tips took out an audio cassette titled The Hits of Sanjay Kapoor. I think it was a first for any newcomer,” he says.
Prem tanked and in Raja, which did very well, Madhuri Dixit walked away with the credit. “Imagine, even a blockbuster couldnt swing the critics to my side. Thats the nature of the game. I did not get the credit as compared to today when someone who gives half a hit rides on its success for the next decade. I got more films, but recognition eluded me,” he says. Then there were the inevitable comparisons to his much established and famous brother Anil Kapoor. “By the time I made my debut, Anil was a superstar. They were not comparing me to his first film, but to his most recent one,” he says.
The next decade saw Sanjay experiment with his looks and choice of roles. Koi Mere Dil Se Pooche saw him as the villain, while in Qayamat he was cast as a criminal. He also acted in a bunch of forgettable films followed by a few cameos in Kal Ho Naa Ho, Luck By Chance and Shaandar.
His career may not have gone the way he had hoped it would, but Kapoor never packed up, and last year, things finally started to look up. He was offered the role of Anant Mathur, the lead protagonist in Dil Sambhal Ja Zara, remake of a Turkish drama, on Star Plus. “I was never closed to TV. The show was progressive and a story from our times. I am thankful for it because it made me aware of the sheer reach of TV. Its been more than six months that the show went off air but till today, in remote corners of India and abroad, people ask me if its coming back,” says Sanjay.
Sanjay Kapoor with Jaideep Ahlawat and Manisha Koirala in a still from Lust Stories.
Sanjays most recent — and most talked about — outing was on Netflixs Lust Stories. In the segment directed by Dibakar Banerjee, Kapoor plays Salman, a businessman dealing with his wifes infidelity. “You have to see a glass half full or half empty. I started working 25 years ago. I am still around. Everyone cannot be a superstar. One creates a space for oneself. Why should I be bitter? I am very happy to have been even approached for Lust Stories. It shows that I am still relevant,” says Kapoor.“The shift to the indie space is very exciting. I was sharing it with the ilk of Vicky Kaushal, Radhika Apte, Jaideep Ahlawat — the type of actors jinko hum pehle Shyam Benegal type actors bolte the. And directed by the top four directors. The kind of cinema that I have done is as mainstream as it gets. Its a very exciting time,” says Kapoor, who has received rave reviews for his performance as Salman. “Nawazudin Siddiqui reached out and praised my performance. We had done a small screening for Lust Stories in Mumbai where close family and friends of the cast had come. I had a 2 am flight for LA and I dashed out immediately. When I switched on my phone during the transit, it was flooded with text messages. Zoya Akhtar remarked that as you were not present after the screening, people didnt have to talk about you, but they all said — baaki sab theek hai, Sanjay was amazing. I think one has to keep at it. Whats due to you, will come to you,” he says.
This is Kapoors second outing that touches the topic of extra-marital relationships. He says that they reflect our times. “We all know people who have been affected by these things. Its natural that these stories are reflected on the screen,” adds Sanjay.
Sanjay seems to have had a seamless transition from the days of no scripts to projects that require intense workshops and detail. This development, he feels, can be attributed to the new crop of actors and directors. “Look at any new actor and the preparation they come with. You dont feel that its their first film. We have workshops and people only shoot for one project at a time. Its helpful for us older actors as well. Earlier, of course, films went on floors without a script, some directors would even get offended ki tu mujhse script mangega. Content has now really become the king,” he affirms. However, he still misses the passion of the older days. “Earlier, passion for this craft was the overriding thought. Today, the star power and glamour have overtaken the larger narrative. One dance video can make you an overnight sensation,” he says.
From the looks of it, the second and third generation of the Kapoor clan is still growing strong. Apart from the three brothers, Sonam Kapoor-Ahuja, Rhea Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor and Harshavardhan Kapoor are already in the business. Jhanvi Kapoor, too, has recently joined the ranks of star kids with the release of Dhadak. Do we see another filmy super-powered Kapoor khandaan in the making? “Till about two years ago, when the word nepotism was not doing the rounds, even then this concept never worked. It is you who is in the front of the camera. Your family can only pray for you and give you mental support. The only thing you get if you are from a filmy family is access and awareness,” concludes Sanjay.
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- Sanjay Kapoor