Shekhar Kapur (born 6 December 1945) is an Indian film director, actor and producer known for his works in Hindi cinema. Kapur became known in Bollywood with his recurring role in the TV series Khandan in the mid-1980s and his directorial debut in the cult Bollywood film Masoom in 1983, which won the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Movie for that year.
He gained international recognition with the 1994 Bollywood film Bandit Queen based on the life of infamous Indian bandit and politician Phoolan Devi, which won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi, Filmfare Critics Award for Best Movie and Best Direction for that year. The film was premiered in the Directors Fortnight section of the 1994 Cannes Film Festival, and was screened at the Edinburgh Film Festival.
His historical biopics on Queen Elizabeth (Elizabeth (1998) and The Golden Age (2007)) won the BAFTA Award for Best Film, and two Academy Awards. He has been the recipient of the Indian National Film Award, the BAFTA Award, the National Board of Review Award, and three Filmfare Awards. In 2010, He served as one of the Jury Members (International Competition) at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival.
Shekhar Kapur was born in Lahore, Punjab, British India to Kulbhushan Kapur, a doctor who had a flourishing practice, and Sheela Kanta, a journalist and stage actress. The nephew of famous Indian actor Dev Anand, he was discouraged from getting into films by his father. His schooling was at Modern School, New Delhi. He studied economics at St. Stephen's College. At 22, Kapur became a Chartered Accountant with ICAEW in England, having studied accountancy at the behest of his parents.
Shekhar Kapur started his career working with a multinational oil company. He moved to United Kingdom in 1970, and spent several years working as an accountant and management consultant.
He was earlier married to Medha Jalota niece of Indrakumar Gujral. They split in 1994. Medha died in New Jersey 24 November 2014.
Shekhar Kapur was married to Suchitra Krishnamoorthi, an Indian actress, writer, painter and singer in India, but they are now divorced. They have a daughter named Kaveri Kapur.
Shekhar Kapur 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 television dramas, like Udaan opposite Kavita Chaudhary and Masoom opposite Neena Gupta.
He turned director with the family drama Masoom (1983) starring Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi and a young Jugal Hansraj. The film followed the story of a young illegitimate boy who struggles to find acceptance from his stepmother. He then directed the 1987 science-fiction film Mr. India starring Anil Kapoor, Sridevi and Amrish Puri in his most famous role as the villain Mogambo. Puri's most famous dialogue in this film "Mogambo Khush Hua" is still remembered. In 1994 he directed the critically acclaimed Bandit Queen and also played a cameo in the film as a truck driver.
Kapur was also partly involved in the production of several Bollywood films before he abandoned them. He co-directed the 1989 film Joshilaay, which starred Sunny Deol, Anil Kapoor, Sridevi and Meenakshi Sheshadri. In 1992 he was set to direct another science-fiction film titled Time Machine, which was to star Aamir Khan, Raveena Tandon, Naseeruddin Shah and Rekha, but halfway through production he was forced by financial problems to abandon the film project. He co-directed Dushmani, starring Sunny Deol, Jackie Shroff and Manisha Koirala.
In 2013,Shekhar Kapur also hosted a show Pradhanmantri on ABP News. The show started airing from Saturday 13â"2 July, 2013 at 10 PM on ABP News. In this Television series his role as the narrator of politics-based reality series PradhanMantri, which aims to bring to the audience the never seen before facets of Indian history.
In 1998, he received international recognition for directing the Academy Award-winning period film Elizabeth, a fictional account of the reign of British Queen Elizabeth I nominated for 7 Oscars. The 2007 sequel, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, was nominated for 2 Oscars. He was accused of being anti-British by British tabloids for his portrayal of the British Army and the Empire in the 2002 movie The Four Feathers. However, he denied being anti-British, and stated that he was merely "anti-colonisation".
Kapur was the executive producer of the film The Guru. He also established an Indian film company with Ram Gopal Verma and Mani Ratnam, though the group has thus far produced only one film, Dil Se.. (1998), starring Shahrukh Khan and Manisha Koirala. Kapur executive-produced the Bollywood-themed musical Bombay Dreams by Andrew Lloyd Webber, which has been running in London's the West End since 2002, and on Broadway in New York City since 2004.
In 2005, Kapur worked with Okan Quail on Hunji!, a story of a young Indian maid who idolised Sachin Tendulkar. Although it gained some acclaim as one of his finest films, critics across the UK and India called it a flop. In 2006, Kapur formed Liquid Comics and Virgin Animation, an entertainment company focused on creating new stories and characters for a global audience. The Shakti titles of Kapur and Deepak Chopra's company debuted with Devi and The Sadhu. Devi is about "a fierce feminine warrior, stronger than the Gods themselves . . . a champion of the heavens, and the protector of man", while The Sadhu is about one man's choice between his spiritual oath and his human instinct,"
In an unusual role for him, Kapur provided the voice of Mohandas Gandhi in the Charkha Audio books title of The Story of My Experiments with Truth, alongside Nandita Das as narrator.
He served as judge on a reality TV series, India's Got Talent, aired on Colors. He was a member of the jury at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival in May 2010.
His future projects include Long Walk to Freedom, Paani, The Last Full Measure. A third episode in the Queen Elizabeth series, Elizabeth: The Dark Age, 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 planned to adapt Larklight, a book by Philip Reeve. Kapur also traveled to Yerevan, Armenia to explore the possibility of making a film about the Armenian Genocide.
In an interview with Associated Content, Kapur announced he is no longer attached to Larklight.
He is set to direct Paani. The film is reported to star Sushant Singh Rajput. The film will be produced by Aditya Chopra. Its music will be composed by A. R. Rahman. The announcement for the film was made at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival in 2010.
One of his shelved projects was a film tentatively titled 'The Nine o'Clock War', which he had planned with his longtime friend and previous collaborator, the Australian actor Heath Ledger, in the role of a popular television news anchor. It never happened, as a result of the actor's unexpected death at the age of 28. Kapur was, reportedly, the last person to talk to him alive.
- Civilian honor
- Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India, in 2000
- British Academy Film Awards
- BAFTA Award for Best Film â" (director) â" Elizabeth (1998)
- National Board of Review of Motion Pictures Awards
- Best Director â" Elizabeth (1998)
- National Film Awards (India)
- National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi (director) â" Bandit Queen (1994)
- Filmfare Awards
- Filmfare Critics Award for Best Movie â" Masoom (1983)
- Filmfare Critics Award for Best Movie â" Bandit Queen (1994)
- Filmfare Award for Best Director â" Bandit Queen (1994)
- 1998 Dil Se..... (executive producer)
- 2002 The Guru (executive producer)
- 2011 Bollywood: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told (documentary)
- 2017 Paani (pre-production)
- 2017 Paani (screenplay / story; pre-production)
- Official website
- Arundhati Roy on Shekhar Kapur
- New York Times Biography
- Shekhar Kapur in Interview with 99FACES.tv
- Shekhar Kapur at the Internet Movie Database