Anil Kapoor | In life or in money, get up and start again

Actor Anil Kapoor’s focus continues to be on the first aspect of money management—income generation. And he has chosen to invest in himself


Actor Anil Kapoor. Photo: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images
Actor Anil Kapoor. Photo: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

The Twitter handle @AnilKapoor sums up Anil Kapoor: actor, producer, husband, father...and now an RJ too! Kapoor, who began his acting career in 1979, is one of the few actors who is still in the frame after four decades in front of the camera. He has not only worked on his craft, but has taken the plunge into uncharted territory and emerged a winner.

All these years later, his focus continues to be on the first aspect of money management—income generation. And he has chosen to invest in himself. “Firstly, I am blessed genetically thanks to my parents. Secondly, discipline and hard work is involved. There is no substitute for hard work.”

Expanding horizons

To grow in your profession, you need to enjoy every moment of it, says Kapoor. “I still have a lot of fun. I have curiosity and a childlike quality that keeps me excited. When I do anything, I have to have fun. I have to keep on laughing and smiling. There has to be a sense of humour involved. That is key to everything I do—whether it is my career, roles or relationships.” Throwing himself into things without overthinking is his mantra. “You know, sometimes you think how much money you are going to make. When commerce is the first intent, without putting any effort into work or prep, thinking about what is going to happen in the future, not focusing on the present is not right.” He admits that working towards a goal can be difficult, especially when people are dismissive of you, but you have to keep at it. Everyone is talented, what counts ultimately is hard work and your endeavour to constantly sharpen your skills. “You have to put in that effort consistently, day and night, more than anybody else.”

Consistency and discipline have helped him expand his work horizons and go global with films such as Slumdog Millionaire and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. “It is very easy to say that it (both movies were critically acclaimed) happened. But if I say I had the intent, it sounds very arrogant. You can say it is both. It happened and everybody has the intent, motivation and dream to not only be known in India but across the planet.”

He attributes his success at the global scale to his consistency and honesty through the years. “I am not erratic in my behaviour, passion, relationships and friendships. When there is consistency in a human being, you trust that person more. If not today, there will come a time for payback. It might not be you. It may be your children or friend who benefits from the hard work you put in. I was fortunate that it happened to me.”

He cites the example of his production Gandhi My Father, which tanked at the box office. “When I made the movie, my intent was for it to reach out globally. I have never worked so hard on anything. I was just producing the film, but I didn’t shoot for anything else. I did everything possible to make it a global film, but it failed. You can’t say the intent was not there. Everybody knows that Richard Attenborough has made Gandhi and it won Oscars and was a huge success. So I thought why should I not make a film on his relationship with his son? When I read the script, I loved it. I thought this is going to connect worldwide. But it didn’t. Something went wrong. I don’t know what. I am still very proud of the film. Everyone liked it, but it didn’t connect. Now that doesn’t mean you don’t keep on trying. I wasn’t disheartened. I moved on to the next project and worked consistently again. I wasn’t disillusioned. I didn’t say that I won’t make films. Then Slumdog happened. For me, I think that was a payback.”

"When I started my career, I was a start-up myself. Someone mentored, supported and believed in me. And that is why I am in front of you all today."- Anil Kapoor

Money management and investment

The second leg of money management after income generation is savings and investments. As an investor at the start of his career, Kapoor went with traditional physical assets such as real estate and non-traditional assets such as art. “My wife takes care of the finances in our house. Real estate is the safest bet. I have never invested in equity or mutual funds. My entire family has an interest in paintings except my son. All the ladies in the house and I have been investing in art, especially new artists, for the last 35 years. And we have seen consistent performance (of upcoming artists).”

Over the years, however, he has begun to take more risks. “I am a start-up investor. You can’t be cautious every time. You have to take some punches, even in relationships. You can’t be like, I will live with this girl for four-five years, then understand her and then get married to her. It doesn’t happen that way. Now, say this company is there. I can’t say let me live with it, understand it, take three-four years. You can’t be conservative all the time. Sometimes you go conservative, sometimes you take the gamble, sometimes you take the middle path.”

Recently, Kapoor invested an undisclosed amount in Indi.com, a video-sharing platform aimed at making talent accessible to movie production houses or studios. “When I started my career, I was a start-up myself. Someone mentored, supported and believed in me. And that is the reason I am in front of you all today. Whenever I find something with a great future, by helping them I help myself. It is win-win for both. You need to have that instinct. I felt instinctively for Indi.com. I felt they were the right people. Most of the time, I have been right. So fingers crossed that I go right in this also.”

As a start-up investor, what does Kapoor look for in a company? “I have to understand it. In the case of Indi.com, it seemed like a platform which could help my film fraternity. With this platform, I can give back indirectly (to the industry). It is digital, it is the future. It is not exactly a start-up. Indi.com already has a global presence. It has a very experienced team. They have done a lot of start-ups in the past and taken it to a different level. Neel Grover (a Los Angeles-based entrepreneur) is a team leader. He has been part of a lot of companies in the past, which have been hugely successful. The investors have proved themselves in this sector, especially IT.”

Kapoor has committed to using the platform for his television shows. “I wish I had met Neel earlier and heard about Indi.com earlier. I had a lot of problems and difficulties. It was so tough for me to find actors for my film and for the TV series 24. The casting directors had to travel all over the country to get the right actors. You know this platform will be a great one. I can see everyone at a click.”

Money advice

The most important lesson he wants the younger generation to learn about life and money management is to never stop even if you fail. “Time for me is money. Today, if I spend a month on something, I am losing money. So I take that punt. It goes wrong also. I have gone wrong with films. I have produced films like Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja. That film was sold at double the price of any film at that time. And it was one of the most anticipated and well-marketed films but it turned out to be a disaster. We went wrong and I lost a lot of money. And then we moved on to the next project.”

Before we take his leave, he says, “Tell me if there is anything interesting to invest in.”

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Anil Kapoor. Photo: John Phillips/Getty Images
Anil Kapoor. Photo: John Phillips/Getty Images

Name : Anil Kapoor

Age: 59

Invests in : Real estate, art and movies

Investment strategy

‘Sometimes you go conservative, sometimes you take a gamble, sometimes you take the middle path.’

Money mistakes

‘I have gone wrong with films. I have produced films like Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja. That film was sold at double the price of any film at that time. And it was one of the most anticipated and well-marketed films but it turned out to be a disaster. We went wrong and I lost a lot of money. And then we moved on to the next project.’

P.R. Sanjai used to work with Mint.

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