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Anil Kapoor on Malang character: Did not want to repel the audience, they should have fun- Cinema express

Anil Kapoor on Malang character: Did not want to repel the audience, they should have fun

Aditya Roy Kapur, Anil Kapoor, and Kunal Keemu talk about Malang, Mohit Suri’s psychedelic thriller, set for release on February 7

Published: 05th February 2020

In Mohit Suri’s Malang, four unhinged characters are set on a collision course in Goa. The packed ensemble features Aditya Roy Kapur, Anil Kapoor, Kunal Keemu, and Disha Patani in the lead roles. This is Aditya’s second film with Mohit, after the blockbuster success of Aashiqui 2 (2013). “Mohit and I were keen on not repeating ourselves,” says Aditya. “We had done a romantic film that resonated with so many people. So, for our second collaboration, he wanted to explore the action space with me.”

Aditya grew up on a healthy dose of Hollywood action cinema. He claims to have devoured entire filmographies of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude van Damme, Jackie Chan, and Bruce Lee. Although he graduated to watching ‘better cinema’, the fascination remained. For Malang, the actor sculpted two drastically different looks, from lean backpacker to ripped antihero. “Normally, for such a transformation, you need at least 8-10 weeks. You need to rest, eat a lot, and lift weights. I, on the other hand, didn’t even get two-weeks.”

Malang is set against the backdrop of the crime-and-drugs milieu in Goa. The film is co-written by Mohit, Aseem Arora, and Aniruddha Guha. Aditya helped with the research, having spent endless weeks partying in the leafy coastal state. “Mohit and I realised we had partied 12 years ago in a rave in Goa, without knowing we were both there. So we thought, why not set the film in that world?”

Asked if he observed any changes in Mohit’s style, Aditya says, “I think at his core he’s still the same. His emotional radar is as strong as ever. He’s a senior director who’s made 13 films so far. But despite that, his obsession with cinema remains unchanged.”

In the film, towering over the younger cast, is Anil Kapoor, playing a manic 50-year-old cop named Anjaney Agashe. A senior officer in the Goa Police, the character is dark, unpredictable, and full of angst against his department. He’s also perpetually hooked on drugs — an escape from a sketchy past. Anil says he has played angsty characters before, but never to this extent. “I play a cop who wants to inflict pain on himself. He understands the moral cost of drug abuse, but can’t help it. It was a challenging part because we did not want to repel the audience. This is, after all, a commercial film and we want people to have fun with the character.”

To prepare for the part, Anil referenced Abel Ferrara’s neo-noir drama Bad Lieutenant. Released in 1992, the film starred Harvey Keitel as a corrupt, cocaine-shooting cop in New York. The idea was followed up in Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009), with Nicolas Cage in the lead. “My son Harsh (Harshvardhan Kapoor) recommended these two movies,” Anil shares. “Both were dark films centred on a cop. However, the world of American law enforcement is different from ours. So to better adapt the role, I spoke with real-life officers and encounter specialists in India.”

Initially, Anil wanted to play Kunal Keemu’s part — the head of the special branch. While it’s hard to glean character details from the trailer, Kunal clarifies for us. “Michael is the only character who isn’t grey,” Kunal says. “He believes he is the righteous man who is supposed to do the right thing. He doesn’t care if it is good or bad — for him, it’s all about being ‘right’. And sometimes in doing that, he crosses the line.”

An erstwhile child actor, Kunal made his adult debut in Mohit Suri’s Kalyug. The film, released in 2005, was lauded for its music and edgy plot, which focused on the illegal porn industry. Kunal says he has happy memories of working on Kalyug. “We were just students trying to make our first movie,” he recalls. “There was this one scene for which we had a certain foot of stock left. Back then, there were no digital cameras and you couldn’t waste the can. Mohit came to me and said we have to nail it in one take. He trusted me and we managed to get it in one go. I will never forget the enjoyment of that moment.”

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