Im relaxed but Ill never settle down

Updated: Jan 21 2007, 05:30am hrs
Its a note Anupam Kher will cherish forever. When Kher finished shooting for Ang Lees Lust, Caution, the Oscar-winning director handed him a note, saying, Thank you. You have made the film richer.

He didnt need to do that, but hes like that. Humble and very rich inside, says Kher, adding that the 10-day shoot in Shanghai was an experience of a lifetime. Ang Lee is very organised. He worked 18 hours a day and with only two assistants. Lee told Kher he didnt need more assistants because I know what I want to make and dont want more people to confuse me. Besides giving Lee DVDs of two of his films, Kher handed him a copy of the Ramayana I am hoping he will read it and be moved to make a film.

For Kher, acting in a film made by a director of Sense and Sensibility, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain fame, is a great achievement. Not least because of his middle-class origins, an actor from Simla who came to make a career out of Bollywood 23 years ago, and stunned audiences with Saaransh.

Ask him how easy is it to live up to Saaransh and he quips: Well, I don't try. In a way, that role was easy because I was a nobody then, I had no image and theres a nobility about B B Pradhan (the part Kher essayed) which makes you look up to him. In fact, I think I put in a much better performance in Daddy.

But Kher didnt want to be remembered by Saaransh alone. If I made only that kind of movie, Id manage to make only three-four movies. I wanted to experiment, to try different roles. So, you have seen me in Bollywood fare, and even English language films like Bend it Like Beckham. Now that hes back, he has to finish shooting Victoria 203, Pradeep Sarkars untitled film, and start on projects of N Chandra and Rahul Rawail.

And yet, just five years ago, Kher didnt want to do anything that was coming his way and decided to take a break from acting in films. Thats the time I thought of making a play with one actor myself. In Kuch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai, you see how failure has an amazing potential to change you. The experience liberated Kher. I was suddenly aware of my own failures and weaknesses and knew no one could frighten me with anything.

So, finally, in his mid-40s, Kher is relaxed. I have discovered what kind of a person I am and I like myself. Coming from anyone else, you wouldn't entertain such narcissist ideas, but Kher is a class apart and never puts on an act, unless he is facing the lights.

As he wears many hats hes also been in and out of the Censor Board too one of his favourites is his teachers role. If I am remembered as an educationist, I will be very happy. Kher has an acting school in Mumbai and has launched another in Chandigarh to be opened in May. I did a three-week workshop with Hrithik, Abhishek and Uday Chopra and really enjoyed the experience. That prompted me to open a school. This year, besides all the films hes working in - the Ang Lee film is slated for an August release Khers thinking of going back to the stage solo for a political satire. Thankfully for his fans, hell always be restless trying to scale a new boundary - Ill never settle down, for that will take away my reason for existence.