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If longevity is the chief criterion for success, then Anil Kapoor, who after almost thirty years is still playing romantic leads, may be the biggest star in Bollywood.
asked about his reaction to people's disbelief that he is still
being cast as the hero, Anil replies, "Oh, it's just the
beginning, honey!... You see, things have changed from what they
were a couple of decades ago. That's why things are so hunky
dory for people like us, people like me. Earlier we were 20-30
years behind Hollywood cinema. Our cinema catered to illiterate
and uneducated people. But now, a major chunk of our audience
is educated, literate, sensible. They understand and enjoy films
which are performance-oriented and sensible. They form the chunk
of our market today.
Perhaps one of the secrets of his success is that Anil has never been afraid to play roles that others feared would pigeonhole him. "My very first film (Woh Saat Din) was a departure in that I played a music composer. It was felt that the role would suit a Sanjeev Kumar. Because in those days, a music composer was middle-aged. Then, I did Eshwar, where I played a grandfather. Again, I was told I was too young to play a grandfather. But I did it. Then there was Lamhe, where I played Sridevi's father." (Rediff, Mar. 2001) And in terms of career choices, he has shunned the path to easy money and instead focused on building his portfoilo with quality work. "I've always aimed at longevity rather than making hay while the sun shines. I've never done ads, you'll notice." (Rediff, Mar. 2001)
Still, in such a long career path, bumps are inevitable. Anil was unceremoniously ousted from Vikram Bhatt's 2001 suspense thriller Kasoor. The director opted instead for the much younger Aftab Shivdasani. "They felt Aftab was better than me," Anil flatly states (Asianshowbiz, Jan. 2002). The decision ruptured a heretofore friendly relationship.
In a November 2000 interview, Filmfare Online asks Vikram Bhatt to explain what had happened between them. Bhatt obliquely replies, "Well, this is the result of some form of miscommunication and we are both to blame. It's unfortunate that we couldn't do the film we were supposed to, together - for whatever reason. But I am glad the issue has been sorted now. In fact, Anil and I are doing a film together and we both have decided to forget what has happened and forge a new relationship. Anil and Boney are two very sensible people. I believe in synergies and in people coming together. Bygones are bygones, a much closer relationship has been formed now between Anil and me."
Thus it seems that Anil's three decades of experience have imparted diplomacy and wisdom along with a filmography that marks him as one of the greatest actors working in India today.