TORONTO: The best thing about Anupam Kher is Anupam Kher. In a crowded Bollywood, he lives by his own code and never minces words.
Launching his motivational book `The Best Thing About You Is You’ in Canada at a function organized by Suhaag at the Thompson Toronto hotel here on Friday, the actor said that two words have always guided him through thick and thin: Hope and optimism.
The audience, which included film director Deepa Mehta, Nav Bhatia, Cargojet boss Ajay Virmani and journalists, latched on to every word from his lips as Kher said, “Hope is not just a four-letter word. It is the most powerful emotion you can experience. In the worst of times, it gives you the courage to face odds.’’
The actor, who has won a record eight Filmfare Awards since his Bollywood debut in 1982, recalled how he spent 29 days on railway platforms as a newcomer to Mumbai. “Those 29 days were the most humiliating days of my life. But nothing can frighten an optimistic man. I chose to be happy and live optimistically.’’
Flanked by Miss Canada-India organizer Sanjay Agnihotri and young actor Vinay Virmani, the veteran of over 450 films said, “I am a self-made man, and that’s great. And my strength is being myself. To be yourself is the easiest and the most difficult thing to do in life. I stuck to what I thought I was comfortable with. The moment you are yourself, it takes away the fear of being someone else. But we are frightened to be ourselves.’’
The Shimla-born actor said people are unhappy because they are constantly comparing themselves with others.
“We leave our happiness in others’ hands and they try that we are not happy. We forget that we are special. I didn’t let people decide whether I should be happy or not. I chose to be happy. I feel I am the tallest person on this earth,’’ he said, smiling.
The 57-year-old actor said he came to Mumbai with just Rs 37 in his pocket in 1981. “I always refer to that amount and feel very rich today.’’
Kher, whose debut film was Aagman in 1982, said at the age of 26, he played the role of a 65-year-old man as he was not afraid of any kind of role even though some of his `intellectual friends’ were not happy about it.
He said his next film was Saaransh for which he got Rs 10,000 and the Filmfare Award for the best actor.
Amid laughter from the audience, he recalled how he suddenly felt super rich after stuffing Rs 10,000 cash into his pockets and ran to a telephone booth to inform his brother that he has received so much money!
Feeling super rich with Rs 10,000, he said, he took his brothers and friends to a five-star hotel and ordered big! “I had never been a five-star hotel. I thought we will spent Rs 9,000 on drinks and food, and give Rs 1,000 as tip. But the bill came to just Rs 900-something.’’
The actor, who is known for his vocal support to social causes and joined Anna Hazare during his fast in Delhi last year, reiterated his support for the Gandhian’s crusade.
Asked about Anna Hazare’s plan to float a political party, he said, “It is both good and bad. Good in the sense that they (politicians) were saying that you (Anna) contest elections. And bad in sense that they (Anna and group) would fall in the same trap (of politicians).’’
Despite his support for Anna Hazare, he ruled out politics for himself.
“Arvind Kejriwal asked me whether I would contest the elections when they form a party. But I said: No. I am not interested in politics,’’ said Kher who today is the most recognized face from Bollywood on the international scene because of his role in many western movies.
Calling it a simple book, he said, “There is nothing (about me) in the book that you don’t know.’’
Kher’s film Midnight’s Children, directed by Deepa Mehta, will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.