Anil is grinning from ear to ear. "I'm delighted if Subhashji thinks of me over and over again. We've just wrapped up his Black&White....And then we move on to the Big One. Usually I play black characters in his films like in Ram Lakhan I was quite a rogue. In those days that was considered black. But in Black&White I play a white character. Suddenly Subhash Ghai feels I'm the Ram in his cinema now."
May be because Anil is playing a modern-day Ravan in the Yashraj film? He chuckles. "Yeah. It's a coincidence that I'm playing white in Subhash Ghai's film and black in the Yashraj film. Such balancing-out acts have always happened in my career. Doing antithetical characters at the same time always make the process of going to work more exciting."
It's a coincidence that I'm playing white in Subhash Ghai's film and black in the Yashraj film Anil is extremely charged about his next collaboration with Ghai. "That will be a big one. Black&White is a small compact film. You can compare its canvas and budget with Subhashji's Meri Jung which I did with him, whereas the next one will be like Karma in scale. It's going to be a really huge musical. And it has Salman. So you know how big it is," Anil chuckles with self-deprecating humour.
He adds, "I've done five films with Subhash Ghai...Ram Lakhan, Meri Jung, Karma, Taal and Trimurti which Mukul Anand directed. Though Trimurti flopped I'm very proud of that film. It got me great appreciation. I had stepped in Trimurtiafter Sanjay Dutt stepped out....Subhashji and I are friends off the sets, and thorough professionals on the sets. I'm a specialist at maintaining relations with my directors. Vinod Chopra and I haven't worked together since Parinda. But we're still in touch."
Anil didn't make a conscious decision to do a series of biggies this year. "It's just a coincidence that I did more intimate films like My Wife's Murder last year and that this year I've big projects with Subhash Ghai and Yash Chopra. Yash Chopra's Tashan is a big film. Even Abbas-Mustan's Race which I've just started with Akshaye Khanna and Saif is a very big film. I'm back with Sameera Reddy in this film. It's a totally different chemistry from Musafir."
In Race, Anil gets to work with Abbas-Mustan for the first time. "Saif had a guest appearance with me in Biwi No 1and Akshaye of course is a favourite. We're working in a number of projects together. I hope to do 18-20 films with Akshaye."
Ghai's won't be the only film where Anil will be sharing screen space with Salman. "We're also working together in a sequel to No Entry which I believe is going to funnier than the first farce. When it goes on the floors depends on my producer Boney. He's already working in another project with Salman. Let's see when Salman can give dates for the sequel to No Entry."
So what did Anil do while Nana Patekar and Akshay Kumar were at loggerheads? "I just stood back and watched. In Parinda we had only one brief scene together. But in Welcome we're together throughout. And I had a great time. Nana is like a child...So am I. That's why we got along so well."
Any new resolutions? "Yes, I want to release my first production Mahatma Versus Gandhi and to shoot complete and release my second production Shortcut. Also, I'd love to play my daughter Sonam's father in a film. I'm on tenterhooks about the release of her debut film Sawariya. I haven't even seen one frame of her work yet."
Idea I.I.F.A. Awards: The details
David Dhawan's romantic thriller