Battled face paralysis, became bankrupt still emerged as a winner: Anupam Kher; Birthday Special

The veteran actor with scores of films and impressive performances to his name has had more to his life than his current outing. From his struggles as an actor with no backing in Bollywood, his health issues, his financial debacles or altercation with media, he has been an eventful life. On his 65th birthday, a look at his chequered life.

The actor made his debut on the screens back in 1984, when as a 29-year-old man, he essayed the role of a 65-year-old who has lost his only son in Mahesh Bhatt directorial, Saransh. The stellar performance won him much love and he got the Filmfare Award for Best Actor in your very first film!

Sadly, between 1985 to 1988, Anupam appeared in a number of films. While he was pretty ‘visible’ and films were moderate successes, his performances weren’t received well, till Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit starred Tezaab came along. Playing father to Madhuri, the actor was again in the spotlight. From there on, his successful turn began were playing important character roles (mostly father to the lead actor), villains and comic roles, he would be a constant in many hit films. Anupam starred in a number of successful films such as Ram Lakhan, Chandni, Parinda, Chaalbaaz, Dil, Beta and Darr to name a few. Come the ’90s and Anupam’s Midas touch with character roles would only get better. He starred in important character roles in superhits like Hum Aapke Hain Koun…!, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. The last three films would seal his image as the comic character actor to have in a film. This is an image that has served him well to this day.

The actor had a successful run on television too with his chat shows — Say Na Something To Anupam Uncle and more successful The Anupam Kher Show – Kucch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai (2014). Soon, it was time for Anupam to go international. The actor, who is currently based in New York for the shoot of the second season of his NBC medical drama series, New Amsterdam, has starred in films such as Bend It Like Beckham (2002), Ang Lee’s Golden Lion-winning Lust, Caution (2007), and David O. Russell’s Oscar-winning Silver Linings Playbook (2012).

A cursory glance, despite the fact, that he never played a conventional hero, Anupam’s acting career looks stellar — no character actor, in the past, has achieved so much. Yet, his life has been wrought by one challenge or the other, like the time he was diagnosed with facial paralysis. This was during the shoot of Hum Aapke Hain Koun…!

Narrating the incident on journalist Rajat Sharma’s TV show, Anupam recalled the time when once he was having dinner at actor Anil Kapoor’s home. The actor’s wife Sunita, noticing something was not right, told him how one of his eyes wasn’t blinking. Anupam thought it was probably because he was tired. The next day, while brushing, he noticed that water was flowing out of his mouth involuntarily. At the behest of Yash Chopra, he consulted a top neurosurgeon in Mumbai who advised to leave work for two months and begin with the prescribed life-saving drugs. Anupam, however, decided that not only would he defeat the disease, but he would also do so while continuing to work. In fact, the scene where there is an antakshari (song competition) get-together in the film was shot when Anupam’s facial paralysis was severe. That is also the reason why that entire sequence does not have any close-up shot of the actor!

The actor reportedly went bankrupt in 2005 when he produced a film called Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara, which sadly tanked at the box office. A Times of India report quoted the actor as saying, “The last film I produced, Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara, I wanted to be a tycoon but I almost went bankrupt. I really did. Nothing worked. I wanted an ‘Anupam Kher Studio Limited’, and then I realized I didn’t even have five thousand rupees.”

The actor has struggled a lot in his life and all the credit and position he has today is well because of faith and hard work.

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