‘Have I achieved what I wanted to?’

‘People don’t know even 20 percent of what I did.’

Even as Shekhar Kapur turns 78 on December 6, there is a youthfulness about him.

He is naturally friendly and doesn’t have to make an effort to be gregarious.

Like his uncle Dev Anand, he is curious about other people’s lives.

He asks a million questions.

He wants to know about what you read, what you eat, which are your favourite films, what you think of his rather slender oeuvre, do you like Mr India more than Masoom, how many times have you seen Bandit Queen

In 1983, after a dodgy stint as an actor (Toote Khilone, Jaan Haazir Hai, Udaan, Swayamsiddha) Shekhar turned director with Masoom, a stellar adaptation of Erich Segal’s Man Woman & Child, which immediately established him as one of the foremost film-making voices in India.

Segal’s tearjerker novel about a family man who brings home his illegitimate child was made into an insipid Hollywood film featuring Blythe Danner and Martin Sheen.

Shabana Azmi and Naseeruddin Shah were much better in the desi version.

He followed it up four years later with the endearing Mr India.

It’s the film he’s most known for in India, and its popularity has grown over time.

When Shekhar made Mr India, he wanted to make sure the audience remained glued to the seat for two-and-a-half hours.

In 40 years, Shekhar Kapur has directed only seven feature films because, as Sanjay Kapoor once put it rather bluntly, Shekhar is a ‘lazy guy’. Lazy or restless, Shekhar is back with his first feature film in 13 years.

What’s Love Got To Do With It reunites him with Shabana Azmi after Masoom.

His dream project remains Paani, which he prepped for Yash Raj Films for four years with Sushant Singh Rajput and then abandoned.

Shekhar was planning Paani for decades. In the period, he made only one feature film, two short films and a segment of New York, I Love You. He also directed some episodes for a series on William Shakespeare.

He hopes to revive Paani. The theme of water shortage is so against the studio style of film-making in the West that Shekhar doesn’t want to make it with their money.

During the lockdown in 2020, Shekhar had told Subhash K Jha that he had no regrets about his sparse output.

“I just want to be the conduit of my dreams. I have had a brilliant life. Couldn’t have asked for more,” he says.

“People don’t know even 20 percent of what I did. From films to musical stage shows all over the world to being at MIT to do a series of lectures all over the world, to tech start-ups before the word start-up became popular…

“I’ve been an accountant, a management, a consultant…

“I’ve been so busy doing things and this is the time to reflect. This is the time for me think about my life. Have I achieved what I wanted to?”

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