I used to export mangoes: Kunal Kapoor
Kunal Kapoor shares the perils of not having a godfather in the film industry and reveals why he took a sabbatical for four months
In all probability, there aren’t any Bollywood actors who can fly a plane. Except Kunal Kapoor. But then he’s not your regular ‘star’ who stays confined to shooting schedules. Last month, the actor returned to Mumbai after spending more than four months in the capital. About to complete a decade in the industry, we caught up with him at his Juhu residence to know what made him take a break.
First of all, can being good-looking be a hindrance?
Robert Redford once said that he had to “overcome his face” before people took him seriously as an actor. I’m no Redford but I have lost out on good roles because directors thought I don’t ‘fit in’ because of my looks and physicality. I’ve always shied away from that part of me, but today I’m unapologetic about being good-looking and intend to enjoy it fully.
What do you look for while choosing a script?
I’ve devoured books and comics and I’ve always been fascinated by characters whose lives are different from my own, given that I’ve lived a rather uneventful, middle-class Bombay life. That’s what draws me, characters, whose lives are far removed from my own. Raghuvir Yadav told me something very interesting at the beginning of my career: everybody lives their own lives but an actor gets a chance to live multiple lives.
When did you decide to move to Delhi for a change?
I was there recently -- for about four months working with a theatre group. I was fortunate enough to come across a teacher and mentor like NK Sharma whom we refer to as Panditji. The thing is I felt I was stuck in a rut, desperate to get over my limitations. And I see that happening to a lot of people around me, not just actors. Unless you get away from Bombay, it becomes difficult to grow.
And what roles do godfathers play in the industry?
It obviously helps to have someone look out for you, guide you and even produce films for you. It’s like having a yatch with a butler for the journey. In my case, I’ve had to learn everything on my own. For me it’s been more like building a raft for the journey -- one log at a time.
Would you call yourself a choosy actor?
I don’t think that’s the right word but I’ve been carrying that tag for so long now (laughs). It’s really simple. To me, what matters is if I’m into a film, I shouldn’t wake up and ask myself, “Dude, why are you doing this film?” I want to eat, sleep, breathe on a set. If I had to work just for work’s sake, I should have continued doing what I did before the movies: exporting mangoes to Hong Kong
Seriously. I was about 18 when I was doing that job but it was thankfully short lived because all I ever dreamed off was being in the movies. Though with the current dollar rupee rate, exporting mangoes would be rather profitable (laughs).
It’s been almost a year since Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana. What next?
Thanks to the appreciation it received, I’m encouraged to go ahead with the scripts I’m co-developing right now. It gave me confidence that I could take time of and develop stuff that I believed in.The tricky part about venturing into writing and building a movie, of course is that it consumes a lot of time. But I believe it’s worth the effort. Also because people are in a rush to put you in a compartment. Like post Rang De Basanti, all the offers I ever received were either of a poet or a terrorist and after Luv Shuv, I’ve been offered at least ten ‘Punjab da puttar’ roles. I see myself as much more than that (smiles).