The actor and new author joined Executive Editor of ETimes, Vinita Dawra Nangia for a segment ‘Tuning into Happiness’, as part of the ongoing Times Litfest, where he got candid about his humble beginnings, measuring his happiness quotient and being unabashed about living in a rented apartment in Mumbai city.
Kher, who released his book ‘Your Best Day is Today’, amidst the pandemic, opened up about finding the true meaning of happiness at a very young age. He explained, “I am the son of a forest department clerk from Shimla and lived in a small house with fourteen people in it. But, we were very happy there.”
Narrating one of his prized childhood memories, he said, “One day, I asked my grandfather, ‘Dadaji, we are very poor, but why are we happy?’ He replied, ‘Beta, when you are very poor, the cheapest luxury is happiness.'”
Now a critically acclaimed actor, with a long list of Bollywood and Hollywood films to his name, including roles in American television shows, Kher finds himself shuttling between the two countries. thirst for knowledge that drives him to creative highs, he tells us that he doesn’t measure his richness by postcodes and the frills in his life.
“I don’t even own an apartment in Mumbai. I live in a rented apartment. I decided 4-5 years back that I don’t want to own property. The only property I bought 4 years ago was a house for my mother in Shimla,” he says.
Revealing the touching story behind his only real estate purchase for his mother, he said, “After my father passed away, she started living with us. I used to always tease her, ‘Mama, aak ko Anupam Kher hai, abh aur kya chaihye?’ She surprised me by telling me ‘mujhe ghar chahiye’. I told her that Raju (brother) and I have houses, so she said, ‘Nahi, Shimla me… All my life I used to live in a rented home in Shimla and my desire and dream was that one day I would own a house’.”
His mother’s house hunt took her to the beautiful town of Shoghi, where she found a one BHK room in a 100-year-old house. Anupam tells us, “She loved that place and called me up and said, ‘I found a small house with an entrance from the outside’. I asked the broker how many rooms there are in the house and he told me that it had 9 bedrooms.”
“I thought that if I have to give my mother a gift, it has to be something exceptional. So I asked the broker to see if the owner was willing to sell the whole house,” he continued.
While he struck a deal to purchase the entire mansion, he kept his mum occupied and asked her to look around the place. “‘Do you want to see the other rooms?’ I asked her and said it was very big and ‘bahut accha hai’.”
That’s when he dropped the big surprise and informed her that he purchased her dream home. “‘Aap ka dimag kharab hai! Mujhe nahi chahiye itna bada ghar…’ she scolded me,” he said while smiling at the memory.