He flew all the way to Indiana on October 7 for the special screening of the iconic movie in which he played a man who could become invisible. Even after all these years, the movie remains one of the actor’s most popular films, with his leading lady played by Sridevi, and his arch nemesis Mogambo played by Amrish Puri. The film was screened for the students, teachers and staff of the Indiana University. The audience watched the Shekhar Kapur film with rapt attention.
This was followed by an interactive session with the audience where Anil was made to answer innumerable questions. “It was an amazing experience. The first thing I asked curator John was, ‘Why Mr India? Why not my any other film?’ He said that there were many reasons but most of all, because Mr India is India’s ‘first real superhero film’.” Anil sat with the students and the faculty to watch the film. ”
It was three hours long! I asked the students if they wouldn’t be too exhausted for the question and answer session after watching the film for three hours. They not only sat glued to the film, they all stayed on for the interaction. I had forgotten the length and the content. I must have watched it 25 years ago. Did I like what I saw? Yeah, the film hasn’t dated at all, except for a few sets, which look like sets.”
“The Indiana University students were amazed that my character’s home in the film was a set. They said it looked too real to be a set,” he said. On watching Mr India after so long, Anil says he liked the late Amrish Puri the best. “What an actor! And what a performance. Not one flawed moment. Every time he said, Mogambo khush hua, the Indiana University audience broke into applause. I also loved the performances of the late Ajit Vachchani, Sharad Saxena, Annu Kapoor and Satish Kaushik. I liked myself the least. I could’ve done a lot better,” he said. Anil said he was as curious about the students as they were about him.
“I had as many questions for them as they had for me. Understandably, they were not only asking about Mr India, but also about my other films, about my life and career. They wanted to know if we were going to do a sequel and who would play the roles. “I said if they were, there would a replacement for every actor. But no one can play Amrish Puri’s part,” he said.
Recollecting the whole process of making the film, Anil said, “Shekhar Kapur and I had a lot of arguments. But it was finally worth it. There is a timeless quality to the film.”