Shekhar Kapoor turns 77 today. He started his career as an actor,and his costar in Toote Khilone and Ishq Ishq Ishq was Shabana Azmi. When Shekhar turned director with the landmark of a film Masoom in 1983, Shabana played the leading lady. Now 39 years later Shabana plays one of the leads in Shekhar Kapur’s What’s Love Got To Do With It.

Who better equipped to speak on Shekhar?

Over to the unmatchable Shabana. “When I did Masoom with Shekhar, he used to love his actors.He continues to do so .He doesn’t impose , he creates the space in which creativity can flourish. Although I was working with him after such a long time it didn’t seem as though there had been a break. It seemed exactly like old times, except that this time I was working with the likes of Emma Thompson and Lilly James. In fact Emma and I became really good friends, thanks to this film.”

Shabana remembers Shekhar as a seeker. “He is a restless soul always seeking and is engaged with larger issues like the purpose of existence . It may sound esoteric and even pretentious to some , but I know he was like that even as far back as in 1974 when we worked together as actors in Ishq Ishq Ishq which Shekhar’s uncle Dev Anand Saab directed.”

It is often said that Shekhar, though a brilliant filmmaker, is too laidback, hence the scanty output as director.

Shabana protests, “Not at all . He completed What’s Love Got To Do With It in 42 days flat in the midst of the worst Covid restrictions .He has many interests . He is a visiting professor at MIT, he was an adviser to the government of Singapore on technology which fascinates him.He has done a musical and has made a series on the life of Shakespeare. Shekhar is always exploring . Film is not his only passion , though I wish it was. I look forward to working with him in many more projects.”