Actor Anil Kapoor, who plays game show host Prem Kumar in the ten-time Oscar nominated film "Slumdog Millionaire," speaks to TODAYshow.com about becoming a crossover success and how the film has been received in India.
You've been a huge star in India for years. How does it feel to now be a star in the West?
I'm not a big star in America, for me I'm still a newcomer. It's my first film here but the film's a huge success. I have to thank the people of America for appreciating our film. I'm going to cherish and value this experience all my life.
What has been your most memorable experience with this film?
Every moment of this film, from the time I met Danny ... to seeing the first poster released at the Cannes ... has been memorable. I had a feeling this was a special film, a good film, but I didn't know it would be such a huge, huge phenomenon. I don't know if it will ever happen again in any of our careers, so let's just enjoy it till it lasts
Also, I met Regis [Philbin]. I wanted to meet Regis since he was the original host of "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire." He's such a lovely guy, he really had such good things to say about me.
Did you have any reservations about taking the role of Prem?
It's not a hero's hero role. It's very real. There are real people who have success but then grow old to feel threatened by a youngster. In real life you understand that whatever goes up must come down. As an actor, I'm constantly trying to reinvent myself. Every decade, this is my third decade in films, I take more risks. I've always been ready to fail as an actor. I've taken films where everyone refused to do those films and I've done those films. Most of the time, it's paid off.
How has the film been received in India, and what's your response to all the criticism?
There's been more praise. There has to be debate, there has to be criticism. When you get so much praise, you have to be ready for the criticism. I'm grateful to God — God has given me so much. My family is happy, my children are happy, my friends in India are happy. What feels great is that so many people say, "India is proud of you." That sentence just moves me. I just love telling what that makes me feel.
What do you want to say Indian Americans who have been watching your films for years?
All the Indians living in America have been very nice to me from the film release in 1983 of "Woh 7 Din". A few films of mine didn't do well over [in India], but America has been very consistent. They have really contributed to the success of "Slumdog Millionaire." I've met so many Indians in America who loved the film and have seen the film four or five times.
You've been a sex symbol in India. Do you think you'll become a sex symbol in America?
A sex symbol in America? (laughs) I always want to be an actor first, and that's why I started my career. I just wanted to do work and be in front of a camera.