Shekhar Kapur is an Indian film director and producer. A critically acclaimed director, he rose to popularity with the movie Bandit Queen. His historical biopics of Queen Elizabeth I (Elizabeth and its sequel Elizabeth: The Golden Age) garnered several Academy Award nominations, including two Best Actress nods for Cate Blanchett.
Kapur was born in British India to Kulbhushan Kapur, a doctor who had a flourishing practice, and Sheel Kanta, a journalist and stage actress. The nephew of actors Vijay Anand and Dev Anand, he was discouraged to get into show business by his father. His schooling was at the Modern School, New Delhi. He studied economics at St. Stephen's College. At 22, Kapur became a chartered accountant, having studied accountancy to the behest of his parents.
Kapur started his career working with a multinational oil company. He moved to Great Britain in 1970, and spent several years working as an accountant and management consultant.
He 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 TV serials, like Udaan opposite Kavita Chaudhary, and films, but failed to flourish as an actor.
He turned director with Masoom (1983). He then directed the 1987 science-fiction film Mr. India which was one of the most successful films of the 1980s. 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. He partly directed the movie Joshilay (1989), 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. However, halfway through production, financial problems forced the film to be abandoned.[not in citation given] He partly directed Dushmani, starring Sunny Deol, Jackie Shroff and Manisha Koirala. In 1998, he received international recognition for directing the Academy Award-winning period film Elizabeth. A fictional account of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the movie was 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. This perception was heightened by the fact that during an interview for the DVD release of The Four Feathers, he spoke favourably of the Mahdi, a fanatical religious leader depicted in the film.
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. He was also executive producer of the Bollywood-themed Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Bombay Dreams, which has been running in the West End, London 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. Some[who?] claim that this was his finest film ever. 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. Its Shakti titles 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;" and The Sadhu is about one man's choice between his spiritual oath and his human instinct,"
In an unusual role, Kapur provided the voice of Mahatma 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 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.
In an interview with Associated Content, Kapur announced he is no longer attached to Larklight.
He is set to direct Paani. The film will be produced by Danny Boyle. Its music will be composed by A. R. Rahman. The announcement for the film was made at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival in 2010.