"Look at the smog, it’s almost like Delhi now." Shirish Kunder points to a panoramic view of Mumbai that he is privy to from his 35th floor apartment in a Lokhandwala high-rise. "Till a few months ago, we could see the Sea Link from here."
You may or may not remember Kunder as Farah Khan’s husband; the one who got into a spat with Shah Rukh Khan; the director whose movies (Jaan-E-Mann, Joker) have just not managed to click. But if you are a social media enthusiast, you would’ve noticed him. He is Twitter’s new talent.
Never mean or brutal, always witty — that’s Kunder in 140 characters. "I have been tweeting since 2009. It’s now that people have started noticing or getting what I am saying," he says, leaning back into a sofa.
He looks younger than his 42 years; is shy in moments but candid in his replies. The last three years (Joker released in 2012) he has spent tweeting and working on his writing. "Twitter has helped there too. I now write snappier dialogues." He has
been spending some time in America for a writing course, and reading through screenplays. It’s all towards being a better writer.
Because, irrespective of what scoffers say, being a top choreographer, hit director and TV host’s husband doesn’t "make" your movie career. "It [being married to her] only means I get more party invites," he smiles in a disarming way. "I’ve struggled to make my movies. I am an outsider; I have no clue how this business works. I am not a friend to the stars, so I can’t call them and say, ‘please be in my movie’. I have to convince everyone — the actors and producers."
He is aware that his reputation precedes him. His second film, Joker, a sci-fi story was declared dead at the box office.
"I am judged by my last movie, which didn’t do well. I haven’t found my groove. It’s like I have been going the wrong way. Maybe, I’ve teamed up with older people who don’t get my drift. It’s like they look at the script and say, ‘what does this mean?’"
Kunder started out as an editor with the Sunny Deol-starrer Champion. It was when he was editing the Shah Rukh
Khan-starrer Main Hoon Na that he met Farah Khan, director of the film. He knows he possibly made a better editor than director.
But it’s on Twitter that he has found popularity. Followed by 2.4 lakh people, Kunder prefers to comment on current affairs and politics. Which is how the mild scuffle with Anupam Kher broke out.
Kher, who off late, has turned champion of the ruling party, was expressing his usually belligerent opinion against actor Aamir Khan, who had raised a storm when he said that his wife Kiran Rao and he had considered moving countries dur to the growing intolerance in India.
Kunder tweeted, "Dear Anupam Kher, #AamirKhan was talking about Kiran Rao, not Kiran Kher. Hope this clears the confusion. Jai Ho :-)". This got three-and-a-half thousand retweets. He continued with the theme of intolerance on his 11th anniversary last Wednesday when he tweeted "11 years. And they say there’s no tolerance."
His other tweets "There are two meanings to every tweet: 1. What it actually means. 2. What the Bhakt understands"; "The 2nd biggest lie after ‘I love you too’ is ‘You’ve been successfully unsubscribed from our database’" — paint him as an intelligent, funny man.
"I keep away from Bollywood. I might say something wrong," he says warily. He confesses that although the first few years he only gathered haters on Twitter, the last 12 months have been swell. "I tweet what I feel and I am careful not to be mean. I read a lot of newspapers and I’m abreast with current affairs. And I don’t lean towards any party — you can take the proper noun out of my tweet and replace it with another, it would still be okay. I am not attacking ‘a’ political party, I am attacking the stupidity of the moment."
In the meantime, Kunder is also busy raising his seven-year-old triplets. A tweet from December 4 sees a scan of three certificates of merit, one for each of his kids. All three won gold at the Mumbai School Sports Association Judo Championship. "I write from home, so yes, I am around them more," he says, referring to Farah’s busy schedule.
"Actually Twitter gives me hope. Because now, people get my tweets. That means the audience may have changed. Maybe they will get my next movie. Maybe I will click?"