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My tears and difficulties in the film are real: Anupam Kher

Anushka Singh | Panjim

The Kashmir Files helped people all over the world to become aware of the tragedy that happened to Kashmiri Pandits in the 1990s, said Anupam Kher, lead actor in the movie. He was participating in IFFI Table Talks held at the 53rd International Film Festival of India in Panaji, Goa.

Anupam Kher interacting with media personnel at 53rd IFFI in Panjim
“It is a film based on true incidents. Film Director Vivek Agnihotri interviewed around 500 people all around the world for the movie. On the night of 19 January 1990, five lakh Kashmiri Pandits had to leave their homes and memories in the Kashmir valley following rising violence. As a Kashmiri Hindu, I lived with the tragedy. But nobody was recognising the tragedy. The world was trying to hide this tragedy. The film started a healing process by documenting the tragedy," Anupam Kher added.

Reminiscing the process of giving life to a tragedy he suffered, Anupam Kher said that The Kashmir Files is not just a film to him, but an emotion which he portrayed on screen. 
“Since I represent the people who got expelled from their homes, I consider it a great responsibility to express it in the best possible manner. My tears, my difficulties which you are seeing in this film are all real,” he described.
Anupam Kher further said that in the film instead of using his craft as an actor, he used his soul to give expression to the truth behind real life incidents. He also highlighted that the main theme behind the movie is to never give up. "Hope is always around the corner," he said.

Covid pandemic and ensuing lockdown has influenced the way in which people watch movies. Emphasising this fact further, Anupam Kher said that with the OTT platforms, audience have got into the habit of watching world cinema and multi-lingual films. 

"The audience got a taste of realistic films.  Those films which have an element of reality will surely connect with the audience. The success of films like Kashmir Files is a testament to it. Without any songs, any comedy, the film turned out still amazing. This is actually the triumph of cinema," he added.

As a piece of advice to upcoming filmmakers, he said that one should remove the notion from their minds that they are from a particular language film industry. “Instead, the film makers must identify themselves as film makers from the Indian film industry doing a particular language film. It is a larger than life film industry."

Members of the film fraternity at a Table Talks session at IFFI
Recalling his journey with IFFI, Anupam Kher said that he first attended IFFI in 1985 as a 28 year old for his film Saaransh. “Since I played a 65-year-old character in that movie, nobody recognised me at IFFI that time. Now, 37 years later with over 532 films, it’s a great moment for me to be in Goa again for IFFI which has turned into an iconic festival and one of the best in the world," he said.

At the interaction, Anupam Kher also announced that he will produce Odiya film Pratikshya – story of father-son duo with unemployment as a dominant theme - in Hindi, with him playing one of the main roles. 

Prathikshya director Anupam Patnaik was also sharing the dais at the interaction organised by PIB with media at the festival venue. Abhishek Agarwal, producer of The Kashmir Files who joined the conversation said that it was the film which chose him and not the other way around.

'Failure is an event, not a person'

In a Masterclass ‘Performing for Screen and Theatre’ conducted on the sidelines of IFFI53, Anupam Kher said, "Actors are not born. My first acting stint in a school play was a disaster. But my father gifted me flowers in the evening for trying my best."

He narrated his life story of how he became a successful actor though he came from a modest background. His childhood was in Shimla where he lived in a joint family, which he called a blessing as there were people around to speak with. “I look up to my father and grandfather. My father used to say, ‘failure is an event, never a person. Till I accept defeat, I cannot be a failure."

Anupam Kher interacting with the audience during the Masterclass
In an encouraging message to the budding actors who were attending the session, he told them that till blunders are done, one cannot be an actor. "One should not be worried about goof-ups."

He said that training in acting is as important as any other field or profession. “Training gives you confidence, it's like a motor driving school. It takes away the fear." He also said, “Acting has no syllabus. It's about human nature. If I had not done training, how would I, a 28 year old new-comer play the role of a 65 year old senior citizen in Saaransh." He revealed that very few of his scripts have been changed after the shooting started.

Anupam Kher feels that Indian cinema is a part of our psyche. “During the bygone era, only source of entertainment was movies." Describing what defines a good actor, he said “An actor should be full of emotions, full of life. Three weapons for an actor are observation, imagination and emotional memory."

“If you play with acting, you will learn more,” was his message for the acting students. He advised the budding actors, “An actor should be ready to make a complete fool of one's self. Until you become a fool, you cannot become an actor. As actors and people, don't take yourself seriously.”

Speaking about how he would be liked to be remembered, Anupam Kher said, "Being remember as a teacher is the greatest gratification." Notably, the senior actor runs an acting school called ‘Actor Prepares.'

The cast and crew of the film The Signature at IFFI red carpet
The senior actor who has more than 500 films to his credit said, “I have not yet reached the interval of my career. You should keep on working. You should be able to start with anything. Don't become your own enemy. Don't ever sit with people who think like losers. Make friends with people who are better than you, who have better energy than you. If you want to excel you have to work every single day." This is his philosophy of life according to the veteran actor.

Speaking on his take on life, he said, "I think I should give memories to people. It's important to give memories, live every moment. We have a habit of making complaints. Life is about doing things, not criticise. Life is a journey, not a destination."

On the difference between acting in theatre and in cinema, he noted, "Theatre gives you focus. You have to change your performance according to the audience, though dialogue and cues remain the same. It comes after 40 days of rehearsal."

In this context, he said, "Competence is the biggest enemy of brilliance. Theatre has no retakes. Cinema has retakes, that's why many people take it lightly!"

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