In an exclusive interview, director Anil Sharma opens up about his journey in Bollywood, his camaraderie with the Deols and shares strong views on nepotism
Iconic director Anil Sharma is busy with his new venture ‘Genius’ in which he is launching his son Utkarsh. Sharma who hails from a small town of Morkama in Bihar has carved out a niche in Bollywood. He started his career as an assistant to BR Chopra and made his directorial debut with the movie Shardhanjali in 1981. The movie was a commercial success and it was also critically acclaimed. Gadar Ek Prem Katha, with Sunny Deol in lead, gave him a place in the industry not many directors can boast of. In an exclusive interview with Free Press Journal Sharma talks about various milestones of his journey in the industry starting from his first movie Shardhanjali to his latest upcoming venture.
How do you see your journey of 37 years in Bollywood, and how the industry has changed over the years?
I loved my journey in Bollywood. The industry has changed a lot. The industry in which I started my career is not the same, new people have come and altogether created a new atmosphere and dimension. Every day it is exciting, every day it is thrilling and every day I am enjoying it.
You have assisted BR Chopra in many films. How did your first film happen?
After a two-and-a-half year when I was 21, I thought I should become a director. When someone new comes to the industry he wants to make a film of his own kind. What is the use of coming in the industry if you are not allowed to work on the projects which you like? When a new person comes he brings new methods and dimension in the industry. Even I gave a thought of making such kind of movie. So I made Shardhanjali and it became a blockbuster and this is how it all started.
‘Gadar- Ek Prem Katha’ is considered as one of the finest films till now. How did it help in lifting your career?
‘Gadar – EkPrem Katha’ is amongst the top five movies of Indian cinema. Almost 15-20 crore people watched the film. It has a footfall of more than 200 million. Even some better directors than me haven’t got the opportunity to produce a movie like Gadar. I consider myself lucky and by God’s grace, I got the opportunity to produce Gadar.
Utkarsh worked as a child artiste in ‘Gadar’ and now he is working as the main lead in Genius. How has he grown as an actor all these years?
Utkarsh was a kid during Gadar. He acted naturally in that movie. He has inborn talent in him. That time he did what I instructed him to do. After growing up he studied film production for four years from the USA. After that he has matured enough and has understood cinema and film production, but still, he is a kid. He has to learn more. Film industry is a rife ocean. He has just taken a plunge into it. Utkarsh has to travel a lot now.
Was there any kind of performance pressure on him?
I had a good experience working with him. He is a natural actor. There was no pressure on him. He used to work only after preparing well. He always lived his character. Once you start living your character you need not do anything else.
On the sets of ‘Genius’, what were you more, a father or a director?
Of course on the sets, I am always a director. I don’t remember anything else except direction.
The film has an amalgamation of experienced and new actors…
I introduced many newcomers in my movies. Ishita is the female protagonist. Working with Mithun Da is a pleasure. He is a legend. Nawazuddin is the most natural actor of today’s time. I love working with him. Nawaz acts naturally and it has lot of impact.
You have extensively worked with the Deols. How would you describe your bond with the family?
I worked with Dharam ji in Hukumat and The Burning Train. I am a big fan of him and he is my ideal hero. Definitely, his sons are very close to me. I have an extraordinary bond with all three. I love them. They are my family and I am their family.
There was news of you working with Sunny Deol for a film…
I am still working on a script. It will take some time as I am still busy with Genius only.
Do you see a glimpse of Sunny in Utkarsh?
In childhood, Utkarsh had worked with Sunny Deol. He is very focused and inquisitive just like Sunny. I also wanted to start a movie with young actors and in that case why not Utkarsh. I thought it was the right time to launch him.
We have been hearing about nepotism in Hindi film industry for quite some time now. What is your opinion on this?
These talks are all rubbish. People who are talking about it have come from small cities and made it big in this industry. If nepotism would have been there then how come they attained stardom? Stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan have all come from small cities and are outsiders in this industry. Kangana Ranaut has also come from a small town. I myself have come from small town. The industry has embraced all of us. It is very natural you tend to get into the profession which you have seen since childhood. Just like there is no guarantee that industrialist’s son would become a successful industrialist, similarly there is no guarantee that actor’s son will become successful. This film industry is such that only talented actors will survive.
What are your expectations from this movie? Are you nervous?
I never get nervous when I make a film. I have faith in god. If you have given your best then you need not worry about the result. Everything else should be left to god. It is my job to watch movies. Latest movies which I watched were Sonu Ke Titu ki Sweety and Raid. I liked both the movies.