Anupam Kher

Veteran Bollywood actor Anupam Kher has appeared in more than 450 films over his 30-year career and made the transition from Indian cinema to Hollywood with roles in Bend It Like Beckham and Oscar-nominated Silver Linings Playbook. Here he tells Vision why he loves visiting Dubai to talk about film and literature

Dubai is fabulous. I love coming here and meeting people. I have been a guest at literature festivals in Dubai and Sharjah, and they are very classily done. At a literature festival, you get to interact with audiences, which you do not usually get to experience as an actor.

I come to Dubai regularly to promote my films and as a speaker. The audiences are always welcoming. I think I am very real for my fans here. I do not put on an act and am approachable and respect them.

My life has not been easy. I do not want to romanticise my struggle, but I talk about it because it makes me feel other people can get courage from it, and go through hardships smilingly. That is what autobiographies of other people have taught me.

When I first moved to Bombay to make it as an actor, I slept on a railway platform for a month. I did not give up and always had the idea that I would make it. That is what kept me alive: the eternal hope and the knowledge that I knew my job.

I lost my hair at a young age, so my first role was playing a 65-year-old at the age of 27, but I have never been typecast. I have played 50 different kinds of fathers and villains. In each film, I was a different father. Only mediocre actors play the part in the same way.

It is your attitude toward life that decides what kind of person you are. You have to plan to be happy and practise happiness. It does not matter what happens in your life, it is a state of mind.

My father, who died last year, was my hero: a very simple man, but an extraordinary person, and with such wisdom. Two hours before he passed away, I asked if he had any helpful words for me, and he said: “Live life.” He had not spoken for 28 days, and they were his last words.

My films are part of the change in Indian cinema that is happening, and I am happy to be part of that change.

I am not desperate to be part of the Hollywood circle. Silver Linings Playbook was very interesting to do because it was the best role for an Asian actor, and had an amazing cast. I do see things changing, and the fact I was part of the film means change is in progress.

I’m a great admirer of Robert De Niro, and was completely awestruck at meeting him and working with him on the film.

It is your own fear of failure that stops you from doing things because you are constantly worrying about what others think. To me, it does not matter. There is no alternative to hard work and honesty.