‘Ranbir Kapoor is a colleague, not a competitor’ – Sikandar Kher


    Akin most star kids who grow up watching their parents act, accompany them on-sets, bond with the film fraternity and eventually become part of same industry as well, Sikandar Kher was no exception.


    Son of famed actors, Anupam and Kirron Kher, Sikandar aspired to be an actor since the tender age of four! The lad missed the opportunity of learning the craft from his father at his new acting school and opted for an unconventional medium – assisting directors to hone his acting skills.


    In an interview with Businessofcinema.com, Sikandar Kher gets vocal about his passion for acting and sports, experience of working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Yash Chopra and also candidly admits, ‘I’m no chocolate hero material.’


    ‘When I was four, I wanted to be like Tom Cruise’

    At the age of four, Sikandar knew he wanted to grow up to become an actor. “After I saw Top Gun, I wanted to be an air force pilot. But after a week, I realized that I actually wanted to be Tom Cruise. So, it was always acting for me. I always wanted people to look at me and clap.”


    As Sikandar matured from a healthy kid to an overweight teenager, his belief in himself and his acting prowess also grew. “From the time I was young and fat and then older and fat, and older and fatter, I always wanted to be an actor. When I weighed 140 kilos and people would ask me what I wanted to do in life, I would say, ‘acting’. They would assume I wanted to be a villain or a comedian. But I would tell them, ‘No I want to be a Hero’. If it was not acting, it would have been sports!”

    ‘I lost 54 kilos in five months’

    Uday Chopra and Hrithik Roshan, (Sikandar’s childhood friends) were the first ones to point out that he had begun to look thinner than before. When Sikandar was all of 16 years, he was to attend an acting workshop in the month of December, to be conducted by his father. “I thought it would be nice to lose some weight before the workshop. So I started dieting in October, but eventually gave up thinking that nothing is happening. But later at the workshop, after two months Uday and Hrithik noticed I have lost weight. I guess those few days of dieting worked for me. So from that day onwards I started walking on the beach, dieting, doing 600 crunches and dancing for more than an hour. I lost 54 kilos in five months.”


    But all this hard work was not aiming to become an actor. “I did not lose weight deliberately to be an actor. I lived so many years of my life knowing that someday I will be thin and my stomach will be flat. Even when I weighed 140 kilos I knew that one day I am going to be thin, but I did not know how!” < Page Break >


    ‘I worked as an assistant director to learn acting’


    At the age of 14, Sikandar became an assistant director under the guidance of Yash Chopra. At that time, all he did on the sets of Dil To Pagal Hai was give the clap. Four years later he began work on Devdas, again as a clapper boy but eventually got lucky with promotions.


    “While I was assisting Sanjay on Devdas my interaction with Shahrukh and Aishwarya was very different, because I have known them for a very long time. I was always allowed to stand close to them when they were getting instructions. If I asked them questions, they were always kind enough to answer me.”


    While working on Devdas, Sikandar opted out of studies. He had just appeared for his class 12th exams after which going to US crossed his mind, until when his father pointed out the difference between India and America with respect to teaching, learning and working.


    “I worked as an assistant director to learn acting, the relationship between the actor and the director, the actor and the camera, the actor and his surroundings. When you are in such close proximity of a working film you know how everything works, including the machine.”


    ‘When dad’s acting school commenced, I was starting with Woodstock Villa’


    He did not receive formal acting training under his father Anupam Kher, apart
    from a few workshops. But he learnt much more by just observing him father while he would do research and practice for characters.


    “It’s not like he used to impart acting lessons for me. By the time his acting school started, I was initiating work on my film, Woodstock Villa. I did an acting workshop with him though. When dad signed Khosla Ka Ghosla, he used to tell me how he was going to walk and talk, so I picked up things like these. I am lucky to have my mother and father at home who can give me inputs whenever I need them.”


    Sikandar also attended an acting workshop with Kishore Namit Kapoor followed by a six month workshop at National School of Drama and this he says was his core acting learning experience.


    ‘Before I signed Woodstock…, Mr. Gupta came and spoke to mom and dad’

    Not a typical momma’s boy, however Sikandar admits he would love for his mother Kirron to listen to the script’s narration, “provided the opposite person is comfortable in front of her,” he adds. “I will take my parent’s advice for as long as I have them with me. Mr. Gupta (producer-director Sanjay of White Weather Films Ltd.) came and spoke to mom and dad before I signed Woodstock Villa. Compared to a newcomer who has no familiarity in this industry, I know I have two people always around me to give advice. Otherwise, one has to just blindly believe other people.”


    Woodstock…did not fall into his lap because of his mother or his father. “I had met director Apoorva Lakhia when he came to offer his first film to Abhishek (Bachchan). Later we became friends and he then recommended me to Mr. Gupta, who called me to his office and told me the whole set up and the script. Gone are the days when you get work on the merit of your parents.”


    “If you are not good at your work, then no matter whose son you are, you are not going to get work. But if you are good, then even if you are nobody’s son, you will still get work!”< Page Break >

    ‘I am not a chocolate hero’

    In his debut film itself, Sikandar has opted to play a grey shaded character in a thriller film. “Grey shades are very interesting. The tone of the film is also so grey. Gone are the days where you have villains and heros.”


    “And as it is I am not a chocolately, chikna, cutey hero. Unconventional is what most people have described me and my looks as, which is what I also believe. Otherwise, I would love to think that I am drop dead gorgeous” he adds jokingly.


    ‘Ranbir Kapoor is a colleague, not a competitor’


    The year 2007 also mark the debut of Ranbir Kapoor, son of Rishi and Neetu Kapoor. Ranbir is paired opposite Sonam Kapoor in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus Saawariya. So does Sikandar see Ranbir as a potential competitor in future? “He is not a competitor. He is a colleague. This industry is too big for any one person to have the spot. He is a friend of mine. We play cricket together.”


    ‘I am very clear about wanting to do commercial films’


    Woodstock Villa is ready and Sikandar is eagerly awaiting its release and for the feedback to start pouring in. He divulges that there has been no conscious planning and plotting of moves to shape up his career. But one thing he’s clear about is that commercial cinema is the way ahead. “I am very clear about wanting to do commercial films. I would love to do films where I have an opportunity to act and perform and get better at it. But that comes along after a certain stage when you are in a position to choose things. I am not at that stage now. I am just on my first step into this place. Let me take a few more steps….”


    Sikandar has already bagged his second film with Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Bachchan and John Abraham. Titled Raaste the film is being directed Apoorva Lakhia and is based on cross country racing that takes place in Mexico. Talks are also on with Kumar Mangat and Sanjay Gupta.