Speaking about the manner in which the third one came about, the actor revealed that he was in the US, shooting for his show ‘New Amsterdam’ when the pandemic struck. Upon his return to Mumbai on March 20, he found himself in a ghost town. Never before had he seen the streets of Mumbai as deserted in his 39 years here. He reached home to find his usually overjoyed staff, greet him in masks, their eyes giving away neither happiness nor worry. But it was when son Sikander opened the door to his room only a crack to elbow bump him, refusing to come out for the next 14 days to avoid coming in contact with the actor who had travelled for 16 hours, did the fear of the unknown set in.
The actor relayed how, like most of us, he spent the next few days worrying about the helpless situation. He was also crestfallen with the deaths of his close acquaintances–Rishi Kapoor, with whom he had bonded like never before when the late actor was undergoing treatment in New York, and Irrfan Khan, who Anupam admired, his yoga teacher, and also a friend. But it was while matching tunes with cuckoos cooing outside his home, and staring at the uncharacteristically blue Mumbai skies, did the actor finally remember to look at the bright side again. “I am an eternal optimist; my career has been a result of my optimism, rather than my talent” mused the actor during the chat.
He also shared how the pandemic gave him the time to stop and smell the roses, along with the inclination to pen down his thoughts for a book. “As an actor, I knew the power of a pause, but I didn’t know how important that was in life as well. I never believed in meditation and didn’t really understand the importance of ‘just breathing’. However, during this time I found out that the concept of time, which we measure in hours, days, years, is man-made, but, according to me, we all come with a certain number of breaths–the slower we breathe, the longer we live. Compare a dog’s breathing to that of a tortoise and you will know,” he explained.
During the downtime, when he was dictating notes for his book into the phone, he also unearthed an old black-and-white class photo from his school days. And despite the fact that 50 years had passed since they last connected, the actor reached out to 38 of the 59 people in his class to share tales old and new.
While he, like most of us, realised the value of communication in these adverse times, the actor also disconnected from social media for 20 days. “Taking a sabbatical from social media gave me a sense of liberation. It is almost like quitting smoking, which I did eight years ago. It was so liberating to not track followers and likes, to not pick up the phone,” he smiled. The actor went on to make many more such revelations and observations during the 48-minute session.
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The Times Litfest that was launched on Friday, August 27, by Venkaiah Naidu, Vice-President of India, promises to be every bibliophile’s delight with names such as Salman Rushdie, Jeffrey Archer, Amish, Devdutt Pattanaik, Ashwin Sanghi, Chitra Divakaruni amongst others participating. Meanwhile, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Anupam Kher, Ekta Kapoor, Rakesh Omprakash Mehra will represent Bollywood at the two-month-long festival.