Shekhar Kapur (Hindi: शेखर कपूर) is an Indian film director and producer. He is a critically acclaimed director, rose to popularity with the movie, Bandit Queen. He was nominated for Academy awards for Elizabeth and its sequel Elizabeth: The Golden Age.
Kapur was born in Lahore, British India (modern day Pakistan) to Kulbhushan Kapur, a doctor who had a flourishing practice, and Sheel Kanta, a journalist and a keen actress who performed on stage. The nephew of actors Vijay Anand and Dev Anand, he was discouraged to get into show business by his father. His schooling was at the Modern School, New Delhi. He did his economics course at St. Stephen's College. At 22, Kapur became a chartered accountant, having studied accountancy to please his parents.
Kapur started his career working with a multi-national oil company. He moved to Great Britain in 1970, and spent several years working as an accountant and management consultant.
He started his career as an actor in the movie' 'Jaan Hazir hai' (1975) and later in 'Toote Khilone' in Bollywood. He also appeared in several Hindi TV serials, like Udaan opposite Kavita Chaudhary, and films, but his career never took off as an actor.
He turned director with the portrayal of an illegitimate son gaining family acceptance in Masoom (1983). He then directed the 1987 science-fiction film Mr India. In 1994 he directed the critically acclaimed Bandit Queen. Kapur played a cameo in Bandit Queen, as a truck driver.
Some scenes of the movie Joshilay (1989) which starred Sunny Deol, Anil Kapoor, Sridevi and Meenakshi Sheshadri were directed by Kapur and he also directed the incomplete 1992 Hindi film Time Machine. In 1996, he partly directed Sunny Deol, Jackie Shroff and Manisha Koirala starrer Dushmani.
In 1998, he got international recognition for directing the Academy Award-winning period film Elizabeth. He was accused of being anti-British by British tabloids, for the way he portrayed the British Army and the Empire in the 2002 movie The Four Feathers. This was heightened by the fact that during an interview for the DVD release of the Four Feathers, he spoke favorably of the fanatical religious leader depicted in the film (the Mahdi). His works include Elizabeth (1998) and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), both fictionalized accounts of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I; the 1998 movie was nominated for 7 Oscars and the sequel has been nominated for 2 Oscars.
Kapur was the executive producer of the film The Guru. He also established an Indian talkies film company with Ram Gopal Verma and Mani Ratnam. This company has thus far produced only one film, Dil Se (1998) starring Shahrukh Khan & Manisha Koirala. He was also executive producer of the Bollywood-themed Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Bombay Dreams, which has been running in the West End, London since 2002, and on Broadway in New York City since 2004.
In 2005, Kapur worked with Okan Quail on Hunji!. Some claim that this was his finest film ever. Critics across the UK and India called it a flop; as a result his films were being flopped in 2005. Hunji! told the story of a young Indian maid who idolised Sachin Tendulkar.
In 2006, Kapur formed Virgin Comics and Virgin Animation an entertainment company focused on creating new stories and characters for a global audience. The Company was founded with Richard Branson and his Virgin Group, author Deepak Chopra and entrepreneurs Sharad Devarajan, Suresh Seetharaman and Gotham Chopra.
In an unusual role, Kapur provided the voice of Mahatma Gandhi in the Charkha Audio books title of The Story of My Experiments with Truth, alongside Nandita Das as narrator.
He is currently, one of the judges on a reality TV series, India's Got Talent, on air on Colors. He is scheduled to be part of the jury at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival in May.
His future projects include Long Walk to Freedom, Paani, The Last Full Measure. A third episode in the Queen Elizabeth series is planned. According to screenwriter John Rogers, the success of Elizabeth led to Kapur being tapped to work on an adaptation of Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, but the project was eventually shelved.
Kapur also tentatively planned to helm a motion picture account of the life of the Buddha, entitled Buddha, but the plans were later dropped for unstated reasons. He also plans to adapt Larklight, a book by Philip Reeve.
In an interview with Associated Content, Kapur announced he's no longer attached to Larklight.