Anupam Kher’s appointment as the new chairperson of the FTII hardly comes as surprise. Among all the denizens of Bollywood, he is the one of the most qualified. Anupam who has been fielding questions on his sudden appointment while travelling to promote his new film Ranchi Diaries which opens this week, took time off to talk to me.
“Yes it is a hectic time. Ever since I started working I’ve made sure I am always working. I hate free time. I’d love to be doing something or the other with every moment of my life. That’s why you will never hear me say two things, ‘I am too busy’ or ‘I am bored’. I can never be too busy to do anything. My father taught me one thing: if you want to do something you will make time for it.”
Which brings us to the new job on Anupam Kher’s hands as the FTII chief. Considering he is already so super-engaged with various activities how will he fit the new stint into his timetable?
Sighs Anupam, “Aren’t you listening to what I’m saying? Aisa kuch bhi nahin hai jo main karna chahta aur nahin kar pata (there’s nothing I want to do that I can’t).I have to admit this new responsibility came to me out of the blue. I got a call from the I& B ministry on Tuesday and on Wednesday I was on. I’ve had no time to think about how when what where…. All I know is, I am fully prepared for this new challenge, as I’ve been for all the challenges that God has been kind enough to throw at me.”
What does Anupam have to say about the murmurs of protest especially regarding the “clash of interest” that the FTII job poses with his own acting school?
“Oh them!” he scoffs at the protesters. “They have always been around whenever I have been given a governmental position. When I was made the chairperson of the CBFC they said there would be a clash of interest with my relationship with producers and the film fraternity. When I took up stage acting very seriously they said there would be a clash of interest with my film assignments…so if they had not come forward now I’d have missed them….But no, I am not worried about any clash of interest. I prioritize my various commitments in a very systematic way.”
Has he thought of what he would like to do at the FTII? “It is too early to start planning. I first need to appraise the situation meet all my team members there. From what I gather the FTII is running smoothly, so I won’t ruffle the status quo just to let the world know of my presence. But yes, eventually there will be changes…I’ve never been scared of failing. If I was I wouldn’t have played a 65-year old man when I was only 25 (in Mahesh Bhatt’s Saaraansh). Today when I approaching 65 I don’t think there is any responsibility I wouldn’t be up to.”
Anupam says he enjoys every challenge equally. “I had already started making Ranchi Diaries in Jharkhand when I suggested to the local administration, why not have proper film industry in the state? Dhoni was shot there, so was Begum Jaan. They said, yes why not? By the time I landed back in Mumbai they had already appointed me the chairperson of the Jharkhand Film Development Corporation. I decided, why not? Every challenge is fine by me. I am being asked why I did that small role in Judwaa 2. I did it for the fun of being in both parts of the franchise and for my long association with David Dhawan. I don’t forget friends or abandon associations as per my convenience or inconvenience. I think that’s one reason why I am given such huge responsibilities.”
What would Anupam like to say to the students of FTII? “Wait and watch. Let me first catch my breath, interact with you and then let me do my job. Judge me after that.”