Potol Babu Filmstar is one of Satyajit Ray’s greatest short-stories.
Its main thesis is that in theater or in cinema, there is nothing like an insignificant role; a truly skilled artist, even if given one word of dialog, can make it memorable.
Sanjay Kapoor is one of our greatest actors. His main thesis is similar.
“Only Indians are bothered about the length of a role instead of its impact,” complains Sanjay Kapoor. [Link]
Very right. As in movies and as in life length does not matter. What matters is whether you can hit, with searing impact that spot which is the nerve-center of all pleasure.
Yes I am talking about the heart.
If any proof of how great actors can make every second of screen-time count, no matter how few seconds he is given, one needs look no further than Anil Kapoor’s performance in MI4 Ghost Protocol.
It’s not that I had gone to see MI4 totally without any expectations of absolute awesomeness. For decades, Indian stars have been trying to cross-over to Hollywood—Dev Anand, Aishwarya Rai, Aamir Khan to name a few. Without too much success. Till the phenomenon of “Slumdog Millionaire” which catapulted Anil Kapoor, reportedly a UN-designated protected rain-forest because of the lush vegetation he supports, to Hollywood stardom.
As a matter of fact, there are few Oscar memories as heart-warming as Anil Kapoor running all about, like a teenage groupie at a Kid Rock concert, with stars in his eyes.
I was happy.
It was like someone I had grown up with had finally made it big. Lump in the throat. Honest.
Which is why I had decided, when I heard Anil Kapoor had been given the role of chief villain in MI4, that I would see it, no matter what the reviews. If for nothing else but to support the man.
Then the trailers came and Anil Kapoor was nowhere to be seen. Aah I thought, they are deliberately keeping him away from the pre-release publicity, like Kevin Spacey was for Se7en, so that he can make a surprise “jack in the box” appearance.
MI4 released. The papers said Anil Kapoor had been given a very small role and that the chief villain was someone else. No matter. Apne to apne hote hain. So I kept my promise.
And boy am I glad I did.
He comes late. Towards the climax.
The end-game has been intriguingly set up. A madman wants to nuke the world. The final piece of the puzzle are the satellite codes. And they are in the hands of a playboy millionaire from India, brilliantly named Brijnath. Yes. Brijnath is Anil Kapoor, the billionaire’s name.
The bad men are after it. So is Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team. Which means both sides make a dash to our desh, the land of good Gosht protocol to get it from Brijnath.
Ethan Hunt cracks a plot that has classic Bollywood written all over it. The comely agent (played by Paula Patton) has to seduce Brijnath and get the satellite codes, in the same way that generations of heroines would distract the villain in his lair while the hero sabotaged the nefarious designs.
With the fate of the world in the hands of Brijnath, the plan is set in motion. The female agent makes no secret of the Patton tanks she is packing, clad as she is in a revealing evening dress. They catch Brijnath’s tirchi nazar.
What follows is sheer magic. In the next few minutes, Anil Kapoor cycles through each of his trademark mannerisms. The “Aap ko dekh ke” expression from Kishen Kanhaiyya. The rakish glance from “Zindagi Ek Jua”. The suaveness of “Chocolate”. The roll of eyes from “Boee Boee Bamba Bababam Boee”. The classy appreciation of female beauty of “Ladki Hai Kya Re Bawa” from Ladlaa and “Tere Ang Ang Main Hai Jadoo” from Loafer. The cheery abandon of “Azaad Aya Re” from Mr. Azaad. The turbo-charged energy of “Hungama Ho Jaye Hungama.” The hairy passion from that love-making scene with Dimple from “Jaanbaaz”. The childish sexiness of “Batata Vada” from Hifazat. The body language of “Dil to Dil Hai” from “No Entry”. The jhak-assness as he jhaanks the ass. The romance of “Maalgadi tu dhakka laga”. The playfulness of “Roz karenge hum ku ku ku ku ku ku ku ku”. The raw expectancy of “Karobar” when Juhi Chawla tells him “Main aapne aap ko bechne aayi hoon”. And finally, at the end when he is outwitted by the crafty femme fatale, that expression of sexual defeat, reminding one of Abhimanyu when Kimi Katkar sings to him ” Utaar aapni dhoti aur…baandh meri sari”.
If the expressions are powerful, no less are the words. And how he says them. I do not think I am wrong when I say that his “My name is Brijnath. Waylcome to my humble home (with namaskar)” and “My Gawwdd., you are a pyassionate creayture” and “I would layke to show you my collection of (throaty whisper) aaaarttt” and “All Indian men are hawtttt, very hawttt” and the naughty “But you have to find me” may very well find their way into accent-correction modules, so authentic and propyaah they are.
And finally of course one must appreciate the meticulous research that went into that role.[Link]
“I make every role special even if anything special is not required and even if it a single scene by researching it and in this case there is a certain Indian billionaire and to a certain extent I have followed his mannerisms and so on,” he said.
As a matter of fact, Anil Kapoor squeezes in more drama and chills in those few minutes than Don 2 does in its entire running length. I will be honest. Don 2’s problem isn’t the plot holes, or its derivativeness (MI, James Bond, Ocean’s Eleven) or that Shahrukh Khan once again hams to high heavens.
It’s the fact that it is deadly boring.
And that is definitely not what you can say about Anil Kapoor’s MI4 cameo.
It’s not everyday that an actor’s histrionic pyrotechnics are so spectacularly explosive that, just by appearing in front of the camera for a few seconds, he can totally burn out the rest of the movie, one that has the blowing up of the Kremlin, a sandstorm, a protracted shoot-out, cat-fights, intense hand-to-hand combat, nuclear warheads flying about and edge-of-the-seats high altitude high jinks.
But then again it is not everyday that Anil Kapoor is in Mission Impossible.