August 30, 2002 
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Shahrukh Khan
'Shakti will set the screens on fire'
Boney Kapoor on what makes him confident about his new film.

Vickey Lalwani

Boney Kapoor loves taking risks. Despite having the famous Kapoors as relatives (his father Surinder Kapoor is Hindi cinema legend Prithviraj Kapoor's cousin), he started his career as a producer with a simple, offbeat film Hum Paanch.

Soon, he took another risk by launching his brother Anil in another modest film Woh Saat Din. Both gambles paid off. Boney Kapoor had arrived in Hindi cinema.

Then he made Mr India, a blockbuster which was originally written with Amitabh Bachchan in mind, but finally performed by Anil. This one was a stupendous success.

He set his sights higher with Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja, one of the most expensive films made in India at the time. It fell flat. Followed Prem, which introduced his youngest brother Sanjay, which didn't do well either.

Two other disasters lay in store --- Raat and Drohi. Kapoor nevertheless bounced back with Loafer, Judaai and Sirf Tum. He further consolidated his position with Pukar and, more recently, Company, though not before he stumbled with Hamaara Dil Aapke Paas Hai and Koi Mere Dil Se Pooche.

Now, he is ready with another film, Shakti -- The Power. Another risk, one would assume, with its uncoventional starcast --- Nana Patekar, Karisma Kapoor, Deepti Naval, Sanjay Kapoor, Shah Rukh Khan (in a cameo) and Aishwarya Rai (in a special appearance).

At his plush office at Andheri (a suburb in Mumbai), Boney says, confidently, "I don't think there is anything unconventional about the starcast. Every actor and actress has been cast keeping the character in mind. That way, every movie is a risk."

Sreedevi & Boney Kapoor How did he zero in on the cast? "Actually, this was supposed to be my wife Sridevi's comeback vehicle. Before we could start the movie, she got pregnant with our second child. I thought I would scrap the film. Meanwhile, Subhash Ghai showed interest in the subject. But Krishna Vamsi, who has also written the film, was unwilling to part with the project.

"Nana was my first choice for [the patriarch] Narasimha. But I was terribly apprehensive about casting him. I had heard he was problematic, temperamental and an interfering person. So I approached Amitabh Bachchan, but he had date problems. Then I approached Naseeruddin Shah. I had almost finalised him when I realised I would have to change my entire schedule.

"At the time Kajol was cast as heroine of the film. She wanted to shoot mainly in Mumbai, since she didn't want to leave her ailing mother-in-law alone. Vamsi is a stickler for realistic locations, and was unwilling to compromise. So Kajol was out.

"By the time I zeroed in on Karisma Kapoor, Naseer did not have the required dates I was looking for. "

"Shakti moves on various levels --- love in Canada, feudalism in India and, above all, a mother's fierce fight against her father-in-law to wrest back custody of her child."

The story goes thus: fed up of the feudal system and outdated beliefs in his village, Shekhar (Sanjay Kapoor) goes to Canada in pursuit of greener pastures. He meets and marries Nandini (Karisma Kapoor), who lives with her uncles (Tiku Talsania and Jaspal Bhatti). Soon, they have a son. Shekhar then suddenly informs Nandini they have to return to India as his mother (Deepti Naval) is unwell. Nandini is taken aback --- this is the first Shekhar was mentioning family.

On the ride from the airport to Shekhar's village, a mob, led by the enemy of Shekhar's father, Narsimha (Nana Patekar), attacks them. Though Nandini wants return to Canada immediately, Shekhar forces her to stay on for a few more days. She bonds with her mother-in-law but develops a dislike for her father-in-law, for whom killing is a way of life.

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Just as she and Shekhar are preparing to return to Canada with their child, Shekhar is killed by his father's enemies. Nandini decides to leave the village. But Narsimha then decrees that she can go without her son. He then proceeds to hold her a prisoner in their house.

A question arises here: what is Shah Rukh Khan doing in the movie? Says Kapoor, "He helps Nandini fight her battle. He has an important role. In any case, he is not the kind of actor who would contend with an ill-defined role." As for Aishwarya Rai, she "does not have an important role. She features in a dream sequence. I am grateful to her for having consented to do this."

The storyline of this movie is more than reminiscent of Hollywood's Not Without My Daughter, starring Sally Field and Alfred Molina, which was attempted in Telugu as Anthapuram, directed by Vamsi and a big hit.

Kapoor confirms, "Shakti is a very loose adaptation of Not Without My Daughter I have every faith in Vamsi. His first film Gulabi won the National Award for Best Regional Film, and Best New Director Award from the Andhra Pradesh government. His next Ninne Peladatha won him the Filmfare Best Director Award; Sindooram then won the National Award for Best Regional Film. I thought Vamsi was the right man for Shakti, too. Besides, he was chief assistant of Ram Gopal Varma."

A still from Shakti For Kapoor, "The presence of Nana and Karisma [in the film] is its biggest USP, I guess. And yes, there is one very interesting scene between the two where both of them come to actual blows."

Speaking of which, there were strong rumours of some conflict between Karisma and Nana during the making of Shakti. Kapoor clarifies, "There was a minor conflict, but it was not as big as the media made it out to be."

"I am sure Shakti will set the screens on fire. Many people have asked me why the name Shakti; it has already featured once in Bollywood (Ramesh Sippy's film, starring Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan). Going by Nandini's strong resolve, I could think of no other title. My next baby Khushi, starring Kareena Kapoor and Fardeen Khan, is due December 6," he concludes.

Ismail Darbar (of Devdas) scores the music of Shakti, while one song Ishq kameena (picturised on Shah Rukh and Aishwarya Rai) has been composed by Anu Maliik.

Shakti is scheduled to release September 20.


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