Anil Sharma looked quite relaxed when we caught up with the filmmaker recently in the city when he was shooting for his next — Genius. The film is special to him as it marks the debut of his son Utkarsh, as an actor. Utkarsh isn’t new to films, he has been part of the filmmaker’s biggest directorial hit — Gadar - Ek Prem Katha, in which he played the role of Charanjeet.
As we sit down for an interview, Anil informs that they are currently shooting for dance, action and few intense scenes. So is he nervous about launching his son? “When I am directing, I am an director. I was a director even before my son was born. It’s my foremost job and my responsibility is to 130 crores Indian citizens and what they like.” The director says that as far as launching his son is concerned, a lot of thought on whether or not he should be the one to launch Utkarsh, went through his mind. “When he did such fabulous job in Gadar at the age of 6, I knew what his future was going to be. He went to USA to study Film Production and even topped there, so I was confident about him. On the set, he does his work as an actor and I do my job as a director.”
But how does he balance between being a director and father? There must be moments, when it requires him to speak to Utkarsh as a father. But Anil disagrees. “Once I am on the set, I am the director. While directing a scene, there is no father, only director. At the end of the day, I need to be the same with each and every actor in the film.”
Any piece of advice he has shared with Utkarsh before he joined the industry? Anil maintains that Utkarsh is an intelligent and sincere boy, who can handle things on his own. “Utkarsh believes that, ‘I need to be in the character while shooting’. He never thinks, ‘I will chop out the other person’s role,” says Anil, adding, “When he was leaving for America after scoring 90 per cent in 10th, I was keen on him getting into engineering but he was always interested in acting. I told him, ‘why don’t you do four-years of engineering and then get into acting course? But he replied, ‘What is the point of me getting into acting, if you don’t trust me?’ I wanted him to have a back-up plan because there is no security in this profession. No one can guarantee your success. And yet, you have to work very hard. Cinema is the toughest profession in the world and the most satisfying one too.”
Star kids also have to face immense criticism for their work from the audience and critics too. Sometimes things can be way to harsh, so how is he making Utkarsh ready for that? “It’s part of the game. When people are paying Rs 200 to watch your film or buy your product, they have the right to criticise to you. You can’t escape that” says Anil.
Genius also stars Mithun Chakraborty, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Ayesha Jhulka and others. Ask him about the film and he says, “If I have to explain it in a line, it would be, ‘A battle of heart with the mind’. We have worked on the script for two-and-half years and people don’t have to leave their brains behind to watch it.” The title too has raised a lot of curiosity among the masses but Anil maintains that not too much thought has gone into the title. “It feels like we have spend a lot of time thinking about the title but that’s not the case. The story gives you the title. When you spend too much time thinking about the title, it means there’s some problem.”
The filmmaker is known for making larger-than-life kind of films which are high on action and drama. He has directed films like The Hero: Love Story of a Spy, Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyo, Apne, Singh Saab the Great and others. Will Genius be on the same lines and Anil replies, “I firmly believe that if a sweet shop is famous for a particular sweet, they should never stop making it. If Anil Sharma is known for particular style of films, it’s a great sense of pride for me. I, therefore, see no reason to leave that style. Many years back, Anil Kapoor Sahab had told me, ‘Anil Sharma has a style. He makes dramatic films with lots of emotions, larger-than-life characters and gets lots of claps. Every filmmaker has his own brand of film. My brand would not be at par with others, but I have a brand.”