'Working with Anil Kapoor constantly makes you feel the need to pull up your socks'

Anil Kapoor and Aditya Roy Kapur speak to Seema Sinha about collaborating again in The Night Manager after Malang, and their respective OTT journeys.
Anil Kapoor and Aditya Roy Kapur in The Night Manager.
Anil Kapoor and Aditya Roy Kapur in The Night Manager.

Aditya Roy Kapur: 'Basics Don't Change
The Night Manager is your first series. How was the experience?
The basics of the craft don’t change. The only difference is that in a series, you do get to explore a character in depth. You get to live with it more. The speed is different, since there is a larger amount of work and less time.

How much did you have to rely on the original for your character?
The Hindi adaptation is not exactly the same as the British series. Trying to imitate those actors would have been counter-productive. It is all about feeling convinced about what you are doing. After getting inspired by their performances, I didn’t have to go back to refer to it.

Was it difficult to bring to life a character like Shaan that demands certain nuances?
It is about trying to find a new way into it. If a part is well written and you have done your homework, you will always find a fresh angle. It helped that the director had such a clear idea of the world he was building.

You and Anil Kapoor earlier collaborated on Malang. How was the experience this time?
Malang was wonderful. Any teething problems were all done with. So, by the time we got started with The Night Manager, we had gotten a sense of how we work. But, I was nervous because he is a legend. The only flip side of working with Anil sir is that you constantly feel the need to pull up your socks. 

Has The Night Manager given your career a boost?
It is definitely a milestone, something I will always be proud of.

Speaking of milestones, Aashiqui 2 proved to be a turning point in your career. Do you think Kartik Aaryan and Fatima Sana Shaikh will be able to recreate the magic in Aashiqui 3?
Why not? I think the team that they are putting together is great. And I am looking forward to it as a viewer. 

You started with romantic films and then moved on to more action-oriented thrillers. What’s next?
There’s a lot that I want to explore. I’m keen on doing comedy. Sometimes you just need to be seen in 
a different avatar.

Anil Kapoor: ‘Acting is My Stress Buster’

You earlier said you were skeptical about stepping into James Hugh Laurie’s shoes for the role of Shelly in The Night Manager. One season later, do you feel comfortable in the role?
The first thing is physicality. We are two different-looking people. For me, to mimic James would have been impossible. It was scary in the beginning. I have always played a conventional hero, 
a family man, so it was tricky. But Shelly is also invested in his family, and perhaps that is why the makers thought I could pull it off. Now that the audience has found me convincing, I am happy.

Tell us more about prepping for the part of Shelly, an illegal arms dealer.
First was, of course, the book, and the international show (that The Night Manager is based on). Then everybody has their own way of building character emotionally, physically, mentally. That takes time. For me, the process involves reading the dialogues several times and losing sleep over the character. Then, I write the same lines, do voice modulation and send it to the director. It is a process that goes on and on. Besides, acting is my stress buster.

Did you and Aditya (Roy Kapur) prep for your parts separately. Why?
Yes. We didn’t do too many dialogue readings together, so that the scenes looked fresh. Some roles are such that less rehearsal is better. Both of us didn’t know how the dialogues would be thrown at us, what our flow would be like, and how we would react to each other. That helped.  

The big screen has given you many blockbusters. Has OTT been equally rewarding?
I love to be on the big screen as I am from that era, but one has to adapt. On OTT, you can invest more in your character, as you get seven to eight hours to tell the story.

Not many films in Bollywood have been working, especially post-Covid. What is your take on that?
Because of my father (producer Surinder Kapoor), I have known this industry for nearly 60 years. And, I have seen this phase—where films don’t work—five to six times. Ups and downs happen in all businesses, but I take it positively. During Covid, people from the industry realised they needed to work harder, and I think our films will get better in the time to come. An untoward situation only makes us learn. People who are sincere about their craft won’t face any problem. If you give the audience a good film, they will come and watch.

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