Sanjay Kapoor has made his small screen debut in Star Plus’ ‘Dil Sambhal Jaa Zara’ which has been proving successful in its opening weeks. The show is centred on Kapoor’s character Anant Mathur, and his romance with the daughter of his late friend, Ahana – played by Smriti Kalra. The show has indeed brought to the forefront a different feel to the many TV serials in India which are known mainly for the strong female leads.
BizAsiaLive.com caught up exclusively with Kapoor to talk about the show, his character and his transition to television.
Was this one of the only offers you received for TV?
No, not the only offer. But you see, Indian television is very women-oriented of late. I’ve never been offered such a progressive show where the guy was playing the main lead. What I was being offered, it was nice, but nothing exceptional. Even though other shows are successful, they’re not something which I would want to do. You have to enjoy what you’re doing. And sometimes you know the show will be very successful because India is a country with over one billion people and there are all kinds of people. A lot of people are living in small towns and villages, so they kind of like the regressive shows which are very successful in India. But I didn’t want to be a part of something which I will have a lot of conflict of interest while shooting because I would not believe in a lot of the scenes. So I chose to wait for something where my role was great especially, when you start off doing something, it would be something different. But as a start I wanted to do something where I am extremely comfortable which was not only a great role but that suited my sensibility and which I believe in.
This whole team, Vikram Bhatt the creative director, the producers Sidharth Sengupta and Jyoti Sagar, are extremely talented and creative people. And Sidharth, who’s pet name is Goldie, had directed me around 12-13 years back, so I knew him as a person. I knew his mindset and everything, so that’s what encouraged me. And obviously I loved the script and my role in it.
This is your first full-fledged role on TV. How are you finding the schedule of shoot?
I don’t know why everyone keeps asking me how it feels being in television and its long hours of work. I’m finding it very strange because I think it’s a myth that movie-making is simpler. In fact I think the working hours today in movies are probably a little longer. Maybe they do more scenes in television because of time constraints. Also, people don’t realise that a lot of time is wasted on lighting when you are shooting a movie because the camera which you use, it’s like shooting a picture on an iPhone vs. a proper camera. A movie is on the big screen, so the quality of the lighting has to be on a very high standard because it’s nearly on 70mm. So the lighting takes a lot of time, and that way you don’t do too many scenes and obviously you have 70-80 days to shoot a two hour film. Here you have to probably do three episodes in two days. So that’s the only difference. But the working hours are very close to working hours for a movie. They’re something very close to that.
I’m always prepared when I get into something and I’m enjoying this. I’m not finding it tough at all. I’m enjoying every moment of being on screen. And that’s the reason why the quality is like that and people are liking me because I’m enjoying my work. When you enjoy anything, when you look forward to your work it shows on screen I think. And that is what’s happening in this show. In fact I’ll take the liberty of saying that all the actors are doing a wonderful job. Sometimes you’re not part of an episode or scene but I can see the efforts of everyone. The casting has been so good. Smriti, who plays Ahana, is doing a great job. It’s wonderful working with Nikki who is playing Ahana’s mother. Even Ashim who plays Rehan is great.
What particularly drew you to the character?
The script, first of all, and the creative team behind it. Sometimes you hear something and you meet the people and you feel whether they’ll be able to pull it off. It’s a very good script, but television is not like a movie where there’s time to re-shoot. You’re shooting every day once the telecast asks you, you are on a time zone. So you need correct people behind it. That was one of the things that made me sign up to the show.
Also, I identified a lot with Anant Mathur. I felt the kind of honesty and integrity this man has got is something I identified with. Very rarely do you find a middle-aged guy who gets the chance of romancing a young girl and yet holding the empire and having kids, so there was a lot of dimension in this character. It’s a very positive and honest character. So I identified a lot with him and I knew I would pull this off.
I have done a lot of films where I had romanced a lot. Otherwise, if a person has not – in his earlier life – done a lot of romantic films, suddenly to create that kind of magic on screen is not so easy. So somewhere I felt that this is something which I could pull off that character where a middle-aged guy is in love with a young girl. At first, it kind of a shock you but age is just a number. If you’re in love, you’re in love. So it’s all of these things that really inspired me to do this. I’m quite fortunate and very grateful for the kind of feedback I’ve got and I’m pleased that people are loving my work.
The show caters to an international audience very well. In terms of Indian audiences, have you expected this kind of reaction?
It’s been outstanding. It’s a late show, coming at 10:30 in the night and in India, especially in the winter, it’s so cold people probably sleep by 9:30. It’s not like in the UK where the night is still going on but even in the winter, 10:30 is late even there. So in spite of that we are getting great TRPs. Obviously people are watching the show and we are in direct opposition with Bigg Boss 11, which is a Salman Khan show. The TRPs are very positive and are increasing every week, so obviously people are liking it. The kind of feedback I’m getting from India and from abroad also, it’s been unanimous. I’ve done more than 35 films, I’ve never experienced something like that. In fact, the other day I was working with my co-stars and I was saying that the difference of doing this is of late when I’ve been meeting people or fans, they used to talk about my earlier films, but it was so nice when people were telling me they loved Anant Mathur. They already knew I was playing Anant Mathur. It’s only been four weeks and there’s so much choice of shows on television, and if they already know the name of my character on the show it’s a very big achievement.
When your own friends or your family’s friends message them or message you directly or indirectly. Your own people, sometimes, hold back when giving compliments. They take you for granted unless something really exceptional happens. This is what I am feeling now. I’ve done more than 35 films and today the kind of response I’m getting, it’s not from just the fans, the people who I’ve known for 25-30 years. It’s very heartwarming. It feels really good that these people suddenly after 10 years they remember me. It encourages you to be patient, pick the right project and do even better.
Before you came across this role, did you ever see yourself moving to the small screen?
Of course, I was always ready for it. I don’t know why people thought I would not do it, but I was always ready for it.
Besides the reality shows, where they take a superstar and do a weekly show, TV producers were a little wary of taking a film star for a daily. I don’t know why they have this feeling that he or she will not be able to cope with it – the 12 hours of work, 20-25 days a month, in a contract for a year. Since the time I’ve signed this show, I haven’t traveled anywhere. I love traveling. Not that I don’t get days off, but I don’t have time to take a week off to go anywhere. But that’s a part of my job, so I’m enjoying it. I’m enjoying that I don’t have time to travel. When you see yourself of screen, when you hear the appreciation, you feel it’s all worth it.
I think the television industry was a little wary about whether a person from a film background who’s done 30-40 films would be able to cope and give that kind of time to the show. They didn’t want them to say yes and after three months develop cold feet and screw up the show. That was probably one of the reasons why I didn’t get a lot of offers from television. But obviously I’ve made sure that that’s not the correct thing. If a great role comes for me, or for anybody else, you should not sit in your office and decide whether he or she will do it or not or will be able to pull it off or not.
The last big screen release we saw you in was ‘Shaandaar’ (2015), which unfortunately didn’t do too well. Were you shocked at the reaction it got?
On the last day of the shoot of ‘Tevar’ (2015), in the evening we were having a wrap up party. And before the party, I got this call from the casting director of ‘Shaandaar’, so I said sure, we’ll meet up tomorrow. We met in the afternoon and I met Vikas (Bahl), the director.
Obviously the hopes were very high. We had a great cast. Vikas was making this picture after ‘Queen’ (2013). Dharma, Karan Johar’s production house, was producing this film with Phantom Films. There were already Shahid (Kapoor), Alia (Bhatt) and Mr. Pankaj Kapur in it. They were offering me a fantastic role in it. Everything was working for the movie. We had a great production team, a great director, a great cast with Shahid and Alia, they were coming together for the first time. And when we were shooting I kept telling them that they were looking stunning together, absolutely wonderful together.
While shooting I felt like everything was working perfectly okay. We even had great music also; even today the songs are doing so well. When I was shooting for it, I thought we were doing something really fantastic. When we were shooting for it, even I thought we were doing something fantastic. But when I saw the film altogether, even I felt that there were a lot of good things in it, but something was missing in it. And what happens is, when you have this kind of team, the expectations of a film are even more. The expectation is much higher.
Somewhere the audience got disappointed also because of the high expectations out of the film. Which is fair enough. Today if ‘Avengers 2’ is coming out, for example, if I’m going to see it, I’m going to compare it to ‘Avengers 1’. And even if it’s a good enough film, if it’s not up to my standard when I get out of the theatre, I’ll feel disappointed. So the higher the expectations, the bigger the film, you go with certain kind of hopes to see that film. So I guess that’s what happened with ‘Shaandaar’ and people were definitely disappointed.
You made your production debut with ‘Tevar’. Are there any further things coming up as a producer?
I was working on two scripts before I signed this show, because I was more into production and had to get a film on the floors. Then I committed to this show in February, and since May I’ve been shooting so much that production has had to go on hold.
Producing a film is not easy, you need a lot of time to settle a script and everything. So as of now, I’m just doing the show. And before I started this, I did a very interesting film which will probably be out in February or March next year. I’m doing ‘Bombay Talkies 2’, which has the four top directors of India: Dibakar Banerjee, Karan Johar, Zoya Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap. I’m playing the main lead in Dibakar’s film. I’ve finished shooting for that and it has an extremely interesting plot. I’m eagerly waiting for that. It was a great experience to shoot with Dibakar.
BizAsiaLive.com would like to thank Sanjay Kapoor for talking to us.