Veteran actor Anupam Kher follows the philosophy that age is just a number and says his upcoming feature Uunchai aligns with his belief system.
Featuring Kher, Amitabh Bachchan, Boman Irani and Danny Denzongpa as four friends in their twilight years, the Sooraj Barjatya-directed drama follows these characters on a trek that turns out to be a personal, emotional and spiritual journey as they battle their physical limitations and discover the true meaning of freedom.
The actor, who was in his late 20s when he played the role of a 65-year-old man in 1984's Saaransh, believes elderly characters are often stereotyped but Uunchai doesn't “write us off”.
“People usually say that if you cross 60 you don’t have possibilities. But that is not happening in Uunchai. It is not a serious film. It is about three believable people. My faith in this film is based on my own philosophy of life that — it’s people who decide you have become old. Here, we have the habit of calling uncle ji and aunty ji,” he said.
“When I was working with Robert De Niro, a 19-year-old assistant would call him Bob or Robert. We don’t do this here. Here people are easily tagged. So, this is a different film,” Kher told PTI in an interview.
The movie marks Kher and Barjatya's fourth collaboration after Hum Aapke Hain Koun....!, Vivaah and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. The actor said it was an instant yes when the director narrated the script of Uunchai to him.
“I was so happy because I wanted to tell the world don’t write us off. I have been saying this for many years and that was the reason why I started working on myself and my body,” he said.
The movie challenges the perception that 60 is the age to "retire", Kher added.
“I believe life starts post that and you discover new things to do. I have never made my parents feel redundant. My mother is 84 and I still learn so much from her knowledge of life,” he said.
Uunchai has been shot extensively across various locations in India and Nepal. For Kher, working on the film was a life-altering experience.
“Shooting of the film has been tough in terms of physicality. But Sooraj and his unit are so wonderful that you want to give your best,” he said.
The actor credits his directors like Neeraj Pandey (Special 26 and A Wednesday) and Dibarkar Banerjee (Khosla Ka Ghosla) for bringing out the best in him. “There are directors who bring out the best in you. So, better the director, better the performance.”
Produced by Rajshri Productions in association with Mahaveer Jain Films and Boundless Media, Uunchai is scheduled to be released in theatres on November 11. Actors Neena Gupta, Sarika, and Parineeti Chopra round out the cast.