x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Anupam Kher's Silver Linings Playbook role brings new visibility

The Bollywood star explains how he hopes the part will help him expand his global repertoire. He also pays his respect to his "breakfast Friend", the late Yash Chopra.

In Silver Linings Playbook, Kher stars as Dr Cliff Patel, therapist to Bradley Cooper's character, Pat. Courtesy The Weinstein Company
In Silver Linings Playbook, Kher stars as Dr Cliff Patel, therapist to Bradley Cooper's character, Pat. Courtesy The Weinstein Company

"In India, you make movies like a family trip, like a picnic," says Anupam Kher, the Bollywood star of 30 years and nearly 450 films. Speaking at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, where the film Silver Linings Playbook - in which he plays Bradley Cooper's character's psychiatrist - had its regional premiere ahead of this weekend's UAE release, he compared working in his homeland to his increasingly frequent Hollywood adventures.

"People are perhaps a little more disciplined, more professional in Hollywood. Also, you have this fear of getting fired at any time. Your shirt button was not done up properly and it showed, then you can be fired. In India, they will say: 'Why did you do this? Tomorrow don't make the same mistake.' The next day, again, it'll be: 'I told you not to do it again.' So there is a certain sort of comradeship which sometimes I miss when I work abroad, but it's a small price to pay."

In Silver Linings Playbook, making a mistake wasn't something on the agenda, since Kher was working with David O Russell, a director renowned for being a little on the temperamental side. Thankfully, it wasn't something he had to face.

"I had known that he has a reputation of being volatile, but he's very passionate about what he does. He works in a situation where he puts actors on an emotional edge, and that's the quality you see in the film. I think he's one of the finest directors and would give my left arm to work with him again."

Alongside his wide-ranging career in India, which began with 1982's Aagman, Kher has become a known face in the West for roles in Bend it Like Beckham, Bride and Prejudice and a couple of scenes in Ang Lee's Lust, Caution, in which he said he would have appeared "even if he'd asked me to stand on the frame".

Kher is keen to expand his global repertoire, something that the critical acclaim surrounding Silver Linings Playbook could well help achieve.

"They will only take me in movies if there is a role for me, but Silver Linings Playbook's reviews and critics' adulation is certainly going to give me a certain visibility and respectability."

Kher also paid his respects to the late Yash Chopra, whose final film, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, is also screening in Doha.

"His loss is a very personal loss to me, as we were very dear friends. I was called his breakfast friend because at least three times a week I would have breakfast with him if I was in Bombay. We don't get people like him anymore."

aritman@thenational.ae