Sanjay Kapoor does not recall his father ever sitting him down and doling out advice. It was always conversations about life and more with his producer father Surinder Kapoor. “My father used to say, ‘Don’t look at the four-five people ahead of you. Instead, think of the many people who are behind you, who probably are more deserving but did not get the right opportunity. You should be happy that you are doing something you love for so many years and be grateful to your well-wishers, your family and your fans because they have stood by you’,” he recalls.
It might have been said as part of a casual conversation but Sanjay grasped the nugget of wisdom. Perhaps that is why, the youngest of the Kapoor brothers — after Boney and Anil — always saw the glass as half full. The actor is honest enough to admit that his career has been far from smooth. He delivered the massive hit Raja opposite Madhuri Dixit within four weeks of making his debut opposite Tabu in the debacle called Prem in 1995. With many a miss and a few hits in his 26-year-old long career, the 55-year-old actor seems to be finally getting the opportunities he was waiting for, on OTT platforms. Starting with the anthology Lust Stories in 2018, to his latest web series The Last Hour, the past few years have been creatively satisfying for him.
With his father and eldest brother Boney being producers and Anil an actor, was it a given that Sanjay would follow suit? The actor says it does not work that way. When the youngest of the Kapoor brothers decided to become an actor, it was a well-thought-out decision. “I was mature enough to understand that it’s not going to be a smooth ride,” he says, adding that had he not passionately wanted to be a part of the profession, he would not have chosen to be a part of the industry. “Everyone just sees the actor and whether he is from the industry or outside, but you don’t get to see the years of hard work before they face the camera for the first time. Bahot papad belne padhte hain and I had to go through it as well. It was my choice,” he says.
When there is someone as successful as Anil Kapoor in your family, comparisons are inevitable. And it takes someone with Sanjay’s positive attitude to take it in the right spirit. “When Prem released, my first film was being compared to Anil’s 40th!” he recalls with a laugh at the absurdity of the situation. “There is no barometer for success. Yes, Anil is very successful and as a family, we are very proud of his achievements — it is exceptional — but if I have lasted for 26 years, I feel I am successful too. His success may be more than mine, but you can’t take away the journey that I have had. When you run a race, somebody has to come first but that doesn’t mean ki jo second aaya, woh bhaaga hi nahi,” he points out. Sanjay believes he is extremely fortunate to have survived for so long in the industry. “My first film released 26 years ago but I have been working for 28-29 years. I am doing what I love and if one is not going to be happy with this, then it will be very difficult in life to be happy,” he shares.
Only talent matters
With quite a few members from his family in the movies and daughter Shanaya waiting in the wings to make her debut in a Karan Johar production, what does Sanjay think of the much used and abused term — nepotism. “I have been hearing of this term for the past three or four years but those who are part of the industry know that it means nothing. Even before I entered the industry, there was always someone who was somebody’s brother, son or daughter,” he says, citing the example of one of the greatest filmmakers of all times, Raj Kapoor who was actor Prithviraj Kapoor’s son.
Ultimately, Sanjay believes, it is the person’s talent and hard work that takes him or her ahead. “I was my father’s son, Boney and Anil’s brother when I was doing well and even when I was not doing well. Finally, it took a Dibakar Banerjee to cast me in Lust Stories and he did it because he saw his Salman (his character’s name in the film) in me, not because of who I am related to,” he reasons.
The close-knit Kapoor family is fond of meeting up and discussing life and everything in between, but just like his father, Sanjay doesn’t believe in preaching. “They have been born and brought up in this family and seen us through our ups and downs. They are intelligent and I’m sure they have grasped things just by seeing and observing our life experiences,” he states.
The online experience
For the moment, Sanjay is basking in the appreciation coming his way for The Last Hour. “The audience had not seen a supernatural thriller like this on an OTT platform. Right from the story to the cast and locations, everything was authentic,” says the actor. Next, he will be seen sharing screen space with his Raja and Mohabbat co-star Madhuri Dixit in the web series Finding Anamika. “I worked with her when I was a raw newcomer. She was and she is such a superstar. It was great to be back in the same frame as her after so many years,” he adds. He is also looking forward to shooting the second season of Gone Game.
The actor, who has also produced a couple of movies, is in no hurry to produce online content yet. Fortunately, he says, he is quite busy as an actor these days. “If I get into a space where I feel I can do both, I would definitely love to produce a show or a movie again,” he concludes.