Anupam Kher’s lessons from life at Jaipur Literature Festival

Anupam Kher
 
Mumbai: Bollywood actor Anupam Kher donned a new hat of a self-help guru with the launch of his inspirational book "The Best Thing About You is…You" at the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival Sunday evening.

The book, which teaches situation management, ways to tackle failure and the art of acceptance, is Kher’s maiden shot at non-fiction writing based on experiences from his own life. The book was released by MP and writer Shashi Tharoor.

"What prompted me to write the book was my life. I come from a lower middle class family. My father had to feed a family of four," Kher said, narrating anecdotes from his life.

Shimla, the actor’s hometown, had a posh Alpha eatery where Kher’s father often took him, his brother and mother for a snack of mutton samosas, pineapple pastries and ice-creams.

The family would visit Alpha once every two months to eat out.

Kher’s school in Shimla had a strange system of promoting Class 10 students to the next standard even before their merit reports were declared.

The actor had just been promoted to Class 11 when his father dropped in to his school one day and told the authorities: "Iski aaj chutti kara dein (let him skip school today)".

He took the young Kher to Alpha and ordered "mutton samosa, pineapple pastries and ice-cream" for two. After they had eaten their snack, Kher wanted to know the reason for the celebrations.

His father replied: "You have failed in 10th standard. I am celebrating your failure so that in your life if you ever fail, you don’t have to worry about the failure."

"If you come from a small family and a small town, everything in life seems bigger," Kher said.

The actor, who has battled paralysis, picked up examples from his life to argue that every block can be bent.

When Kher was shooting for the hit Bollywood family drama "Hum Aapke Hain Kaun", he was struck by facial paralysis. His neuro-surgeon advised him to take time out for two months to recover. Kher was at a crossroad, but decided to take a chance by confiding in his director and the crew of the movie.

"If you look closely, the movie (a particular song sequence) does not include any of my close-up shots. The movie became very successful…if you tell your shortcomings and problems, it helps sometimes," Kher said.

The story of his failures and perseverance has taken Kher to foreign universities and management institutes to lecture about overcoming obstacles.

"I want to reach out to as many people as possible," Kher said.

Success is one-dimensional, but failure is a finely-nuanced "most charming thing", the actor said.

Kher, 57, has appeared in more than 100 plays and 450 movies, including acclaimed ones like "Saaransh", "Darr", "Bend It Like Beckham", "Bride and Prejudice" and "The Mistress of Spices".

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