“I have always been given the rich businessman type dad roles in films,” says actor Mohan Kapur, who will soon be seen in the upcoming web series Ms Marvel. Despite having worked in the Hindi film and television industry since 1992, he says he never thought of going to Hollywood as he did not want to end up becoming a “nobody” there.
“A couple of years ago I was doing an independent Hollywood film. After the shoot was over, both the producer and director said they loved my work and asked, ‘Why don’t you work in Hollywood?’ I said I was happy being a nobody here but I don’t wanna be a nobody there too,” laughs Kapur, who has been seen over the years in films like Naam Shabana, Happy New Year, and Hate Story in side roles. He has also worked in TV shows like Hostages and has dabbled in dubbing every now and then.
“But the casting director insisted that I join her talent agency and try for Hollywood projects. She used to send me scripts to audition and I even got those parts, but due to visa issues, I never pursued them. During Covid, she sent me the Ms Marvel script and asked me to audition for it. I did and everyone back at Marvel liked it. We were worried about getting a work visa but the production house got it done very efficiently. In October 2020, I flew down there and we shot till February end,” says Kapur, recounting how he landed the Ms Marvel role.
In 50 days, Kamala Khan’s journey begins. ⚡️
And also with this begins, my journey into a world I didn’t even dream of! #MsMarvel, an Original series from Marvel Studios, starts streaming June 8 on @DisneyPlus @DisneyPlusHS pic.twitter.com/AqxV1zGlfn
— Mohan Kapur (@mohankapur) April 19, 2022
Releasing on Wednesday, Ms Marvel sees Kapur playing the role of the titular character’s father. The Sadak 2 actor reveals that he features in four of the show’s six episodes.
Before getting this role Kapur was not a big Marvel fanatic. “I watched these films right before I left for shooting because I had to get to know about the universe.” While he gets calls every day congratulating him on being the first Indian cast in a Marvel show, the actor say the enormity of what he has done “has not sunk in yet.”
Although not a fan of the genre, Kapur says he felt like “a kid in the candy shop” seeing the huge sets and the expensive equipment. “The average production houses over here (India) are nowhere near in comparison. But the bigger production houses pretty much have the same work ethos. Where India and Hollywood cannot compare is obviously the budget. Another setback is that not many Indian films have a global appeal like Hollywood does,” he opines.
“Right from the attitude on set to the people they hire, everything is so different. For example, casting here is not at all up to the mark. For many projects, I have seen that wrong people get cast and the film suffers for it.”
Along with all the hard work, Kapur says it was also a lot of fun on the set. “I remember the first time Iman Vellani saw Kevin Feige, she started shaking in excitement and nervousness,” he laughs.
“I was dubbing from India for my part when the director told me that Feige had seen the footage and said I was the best dad he had ever seen. It made me really happy. Everyone on the set too used to call me an Indian Santa Claus,” he adds.
Kapur started off his career in showbiz when he landed a show called Saanp Seedi on Zee TV while he was working in an advertising company. It was the first and only television series launched on a private channel at a time when Doordarshan ruled the roost. “It was a drastic step because at that time Doordarshan was the only channel running. We did Saanp Seedi and it became a humongous hit. There were people who hated me and then there were people who loved me. When I came to their TV screens, it was jarring for some who thought how can this man come on national television and make jokes, or flirt with women, etc?”
After two years, when he left the show, several film offers came his way. But Kapur found none of the stories he was offered good enough and so he took a break from acting. “I was tired of bad scripts being made into films. That is when I started writing a couple of episodes for a show on Zee TV and I co-directed a few of them too.”
However, the Bodyguard actor says he does not want to go behind the scenes and write or direct anything anymore. “I burnt my hands behind the camera; there’s too much politics that I don’t want to be a part of. Now, I say, ‘Give me my script and tell me my line,’ and that’s it.”
It was when Farhan Akhtar’s Dil Chahta Hai (2001) released that Kapur figured it was time to go back to acting again because “finally good scripts were being written again.” He then went on to do films like Sadak 2 and Misson Mangal, but nothing brought him much satisfaction script-wise.
“My journey has been very blessed. I’ve seen my share of ups and downs, but I’ve been very lucky because I never had to go out and look for work,” says Kapur, who adds that he is ready to do films both in India and Hollywood as long as he gets scripts that aren’t meaningless. “I don’t want to do crap. People would then come and say, ‘After Marvel, why would you choose a bad project?’ If I never chose a film that I did not like in India, then why would I do that in Hollywood? I do not need to make cash registers ring; it is more important to like the role I do.”