Kapur, Shekhar 1951(?)-

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KAPUR, Shekhar 1951(?)-
(Shekhar Kapoor, Shekhar Kapoor)


Born December 6, 1951 (some sources say 1945 or 1954), in Bombay, India (some sources say Lahore, India [now Pakistan]); immigrated to England, 1970; married Suchitra Krishnamurti (a singer), 1996.




Director of films, including Masoom (also known as Innocent), 1983, Mr. India, 1987, Bandit Queen (also known as Phoolan Devi), 1994, Dushmani, 1996, Elizabeth (also known as Elizabeth: The Virgin Queen), 1998, Long Way to Freedom, 2001, The Four Feathers, 2002, Paani (also known as Water), 2007, and The Golden Age, 2007. Actor in films and television programs. Worked as accountant for Burmah Oil, London, England, in the early 1970s.


Filmfare Award, 1983, for Best Film for Masoom, 1995, for Best Film for Bandit Queen, 1997, for Best Director for Bandit Queen, and Special Award, 1999; National Board of Review award for best director, 1998, for Elizabeth; Best International Feature Film, Atlantic Film Festival, 1998, for Elizabeth; Silver Award for foreign film, Guild of German Art House Cinemas, 1999, for Elizabeth; special award for outstanding Indian achievement in world cinema, International Indian Film Academy, 2000.


Paani (also known as Water), 2007.


Shekhar Kapur is an Indian filmmaker whose works have won international acclaim. Making a reputation for himself first in India's filmmaking community, which is popularly known as "Bollywood," Kapur went on to become the first Indian to successfully cross over to the United States and Hollywood, while retaining many of his country's storytelling traditions in his American work.

As a child, Kapur had family members who were involved with the film industry, but his father discouraged him from going into the theater or movies. Instead, Kapur went to London as a young man and pursued a business career. He soon gave it up and returned to India to try working as an actor in Bollywood. He failed to establish himself as an actor, but he won praise for his first directorial effort, the 1983 film Masoom. In 1994, he drew international attention because of his film Bandit Queen, based on a real-life outlaw, a lower-caste woman named Phoolan Devi. Horribly abused by the upper caste, Phoolan Devi escaped and took up life as a kind of Robin Hood. The film's violent and disturbing content caused it to be censored in India, but it was nevertheless a critical success. Reviewing the film for the New Republic, Stanley Kauffmann remarked: "Shekhar Kapur, the director, is in clear command from Moment One.… He has found his own way to use great space as a complement for lone figures and for using masses of people to dramatize great space." Cinema reviewer Deepika Singh felt that Bandit Queen "bridged the gap between Indian and Western sensibilities."

The success of Bandit Queen allowed Kapur to enter the world of high-budget Hollywood filmmaking. When Kapur set out to make a historical epic about Queen Elizabeth I, skeptics wondered if someone from India could bring off such a project. Kapur, however, felt that his fresh perspective would be a good thing, since Elizabeth's story has been told countless times. His lavish film, Elizabeth, was widely praised and was nominated for seven Academy Awards. He followed Elizabeth with The Four Feathers, an adaptation of A.E.W. Mason's novel that presents a story of love and honor during the days when Colonial Britain was invading Sudan. Reviewing The Four Feathers in the Film Journal International, Kevin Lally noted: "Kapur continues to surprise with his new feature." Although on the surface it appears to be merely a story of colonial adventure, Kapur's film subtly brought out the anticolonial aspects of the plot. "I actively tried to do that," Kapur was quoted by Lally as saying. "I don't know if I succeeded, but I do know that people who see the film come out and say, 'What the hell were the British doing there in the first place?'"

Kapur continued to challenge his audience with Paani (Water), a futuristic tale about a Bombay that is starkly divided between those who live in luxury and those who struggle simply to survive. In the near future, Kapur believes, the world's most precious commodity will be drinking water, and it will be hard for the poor to obtain. His film shows the poor living in dry, unused pipes, sneaking into the upper city in order to try to steal a little water. One writer commented in Time International that Paani shows Kapur taking "the greatest risk of his career, transforming himself from a director famed for opulent spectacle into a low-budget crusader for the oppressed." Kapur, who returned to India after some years in the United States, mused: "I've come to the conclusion that I'm unable to live anywhere but India. I need the chaos, to see that people can live in abject poverty with more dignity than even the richest in Bel Air. I need to draw strength and creativity from the courage of a people that can somehow survive everything."



Contemporary Theater, Film, and Television, Volume 52, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 2003.


Cineaste, spring-summer, 1999; August 8, 2006, Kenneth S. Rothwell, review of Elizabeth, p. 78.

Daily Variety, October 29, 2003, Bryan Pearson, "Kapur Has His Mantra," p. 15.

Entertainment Weekly, November 13, 1998, Lisa Schwarzbaum, review of Elizabeth, p. 53; August 23, 2002, review of The Four Feathers, p. 32.

Film Journal International, September, 2002, Kevin Lally, "Desert Odyssey: Shekhar Kapur Leads Four Feathers Adventure," p. 14; October, 2002, Shirley Sealy, review of The Four Feathers, p. 82.

Hollywood Reporter, September 10, 2002, Kirk Honeycutt, review of The Four Feathers, p. 50; June 26, 2003, Josh Spector, "Kapur Enlisted to Helm New Line's Full Measure, "p.1.

Interview, September, 2002, Thelma Adams, review of The Four Feathers, p. 78.

New Republic, July 10, 1995, Stanley Kauffmann, review of Bandit Queen, p. 24.

Newsweek, November 23, 1998, Jeff Giles, review of Elizabeth, p. 88.

New Yorker, September 30, 2002, Anthony Lane, review of The Four Feathers.

New York Times, March 18, 1995, Stephen Holden, review of Bandit Queen; November 6, 1998, Janet Maslin, review of Elizabeth; September 20, 2002, Elvis Mitchell, review of The Four Feathers.

Time, August 14, 1995, Richard Corliss, review of Bandit Queen, p. 67; November 16, 1998, Richard Schickel, review of Elizabeth, p. 120.

Time International, March 21, 2005, "The Numbers Man," p. 46.


Boloji,http://www.boloji.com/ (May 24, 2000), Deepika Singh, "Shekhar Kapur: The Unsung Doyen."

Filmforce,http://filmforce.ign.com/ (September 12, 2005), "Shekhar Kapoor's Buddha to Show Buddha As Human."

Shekhar Kapur Home Page,http://www.shekharkapur.com (October 1, 2006).

Spliced Wire,http://www.splicedonline.com/ (October 1, 2006), interview with Shekhar Kapur.*