Shekhar Kapur was then only one film old, the critically-acclaimed butoffbeat Masoom—anunlikely choice to direct producer Boney Kapoor’s commercial film about a
man who becomes invisible.
Both filmmakers took a chance, and the
result was the unforgettable Mr India.
As the film celebrates its 25th anniversary
May 25, Kapur looks back.
When you think of Mr India now, what
are the images and memories that flash
through your mind?
It was very tough and at the same time so
much fun to make Mr India. It was tough
because we did not have the tools and the
technology available today. It was not possible to add the visual effects during post-production as it happens today. We had to
shoot everything on camera, so the time
and effort taken was really challenging.
The great thing about Mr India was… I
relied on all the actors to take the attention
away from the visual effects. The visual
effects were fundamentally sold by the performances of the actors.
What has turned out in the last 25 years
is it’s not the visual effects but the characters that have stayed with the audience. It’s
always important for me that the actors
and characters are what make my films…
In a way I thank god that we didn’t have
advance technology because the characters
in Mr India created the awe factor of visual
The film took major inspiration from H G
Wells’s The Invisible Man. Even before Mr
India was made, we had films like Mr X
(released in 1957 starring Ashok Kumar)
and Mr X In Bombay (released in 1964
starring Kishore Kumar) on similar lines.
Had you read the book or seen the films?
I never saw them and I haven’t seen
them. Actually, I should watch it. I never
found a copy of any of these films.
One day I asked Boney Kapoor to get me
a book, and he got me The Invisible Man
and the book was about editing (laughs).
The inspiration for the film actually came
from the story written by Salim-Javed
(Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar).
Was there any inspiration from Shammi
Films are inspired from life. When I make
a film I look at a thousand images around
me. When I was looking at the car, which
was used in Mr India, the car looked much
more like the car in Chitty Chitty Bang
Bang. If there was any inspiration it was
from this film rather than Brahmachari.
Did you ever ask Boney Kapoor why he
approached you to make Mr India?
I still haven’t (laughs). I remember he
had seen Masoom just before he came to
me. I think it was because Masoom was a
film about kids and so was Mr India. He
just came and told me, and I accepted it. As
he left my house I went to drop him till his
car and he handed me Rs 10,000 as the
Do you remember the first time you read
What I first heard about Mr India, it was
just an idea. It took a long time to develop
the story. The funny thing is that we had
already started shooting for the film and
Javed Akhtar was still writing the character
of Mogambo (laughs).
JAY MANDAL/ON ASSIGNMENT
was a product
On the 25th anniversary of the film,
director Shekhar Kapur takes
Sonil Dedhia back to the making
And Mogambo went on to become
one of the best-known villains in
I remember I was shooting with
Daga and Teja, Mogambo’s hench-
men when Akhtar came and told
me, ‘Mogambo khush hua.’ It
sounded really exciting and he
went on to give me the background.
We had a small argument, and
one day Javed came up to me and
told me, ‘Shekharsaab, one day
when Kapil Dev hits a six, people
will say, Mogambo khushhua.’ And
it happened. Kapil Dev did hit a six
in Sharjah in a limited over match
and a huge banner went up which
said, ‘Mogambo khush hua.’
Do people still question you for
killing Tina’s character?
Yes, people still write to me that
they were traumatized by that
scene. There is always a thin line
between farce and fantasy. I was a
little afraid that the film was
becoming not a fantasy, but a farce.
I wanted to ground the film in a sense of
reality. If you look closely, Mogambo was a
character, which just spoke and didn’t do
very much. We needed to do something
that would make the audience hate him.
Which is your favorite scene in the film?
There are many. Firstly, when Anil
Kapoor’s character discovers the bracelet
that makes him invisible. The second one
would be the Charlie Chaplin sequence.