Starting off his career as a child artist and now emerging as the leading man in films, Kunal Khemu has surely come a long way. With his latest comedy Dhoondte Reh Jaoge Ready to release next week and two other films waiting in the line, Bollywood Hungama caught up with this young actor to know more about his films.
You started your acting career as a child artist and today you are the leading man in films... what was this journey like?
Yes, I did get into films as a child artist, and have in a way grown up here. To me this is like a blessing, its like living a dream, some thing that I always wanted to do. And now my dream has come true and I have become an actor in lead roles. So the entire journey for me has been a real lifelong experience quite literally.
When you were a kid what was it like acting in films? Is there difference in the work pattern now?
No, I don't think that I feel the same. The reason for this being that along with the actors and forms of acting, the entire method of filmmaking and audience mind set has changed. Today we have various filmmakers trying to tell stories in unthought-of and unconventional ways and the audience has matured so much. Besides the entire multiplex scene that has developed has actually given the art films so much more. Like some time back the so called art films were limited to TV releases, while now they can have a theatrical release just like any mainstream film and yet have audience flowing in to watch it.
Last year you had just a single release, how come?
The thing with film is that they are uncertain. Besides this, each film has its pre-production, then the production itself, followed by the post- production. To add to this are the numerous delays and problems that keep popping up every now and then. So last year was like that for me with films.
Kunal Khemu Tell us about Dhoondte Reh Jaoge.
Well Dhoondte Reh Jaoge is basically a story of two very different people, who come from absolutely contrasting backgrounds as well. Paresh plays this producer while I am this middle class guy. The story is about how thanks to destiny and circumstances, we are forced to become partners and work together to make a film. So the bottom line is how these two varied individuals get together during a crisis situation to devise a solution.
As the release date draws closer, what goes through your mind as an actor about the audience's reaction to the film?
I don't think there is anyone who hasn't felt the same. It's like the same feeling you get when giving an exam and then waiting for the results. It's all the same, those butterflies in your stomach and the entire anxious feeling. The only difference is that here the audience is examiner and critics are the moderators.
What is the character you play in the film?
Well my character is this lower middle class guy who is honest to the core. It is this same honesty that has already cost him five different jobs and now due to the mounting pressure, he is forced to find a way to pay the rent for the chawl room where is he living.
Dhoondte Reh Jaoge is a comic film, what was the funniest thing that happened while shooting for it?
Actually since we were making a comedy, there was always something happening on the sets, it was never a dull day. However, the funniest has to be the time when I just finished a shoot for which I had to be on a jet ski. After the shoot was done every one wanted a ride so I was the one who was taking them out for a spin. But when it was the director's turn, I thought of having a bit of fun and pushed him off. However, he actually was holding on so tight that he dragged me off too. The funny part was that he didn't know swimming and since the key was in the ignition, the Jet Ski just kept going. Thankfully we were in the shallow area and could easily walk back.
What about the rest of the cast... how was it working with Paresh Rawal, Soha Ali Khan and of course Johnny Lever?
Pareshji and I have worked earlier when I was doing theatre. So it was really great working with him again. Then we have Johnny Lever and Asrani, they are like legends when it comes to comedy. So yes it was really great working with them, and thanks to the interaction level on the sets I learnt a lot too. Besides they are all such fabulous actors.
Kunal Khemu Since the film has a comic angle, what is the music of the film like?
The music of the film is always important and has to carry the flavour of the film itself. In this film, the music is also pretty humorous. We've tried to incorporate humour with the lyrics and sound track like the track 'Salma Balma' then the title track itself 'Dhoondte Rah Jaoge'. Besides this the music is also pretty peppy and has a dance number also. There is just a single slow romantic track I the film. I have to say that Sajid- Wajid have done a wonderful job with the music album.
Which is your personal favourite track from the album?
From the entire album, I think my favourite track has to be the title track of the film 'Dhoondte Rah Jaaoge' and second is the song 'Pal'.
Though at times comic films can be tough, what was the hardest shoot that you had to go through?
Yes that is true, though I cannot say if this was tough or scary. Basically, it is an action sequence that comes towards the end of the film, in which I am supposed to jump off a 5 storey building... and that's where the problem was. We were shooting in a chawl so there were no cable rigs, we had to do it with the camera crane itself. So I was tied to the crane and was hanging there giving take after take and the worst part was that there wasn't even crash mat down. Hence, I cannot term this as hard or scary.
What about the audience... how open are they today to watch cinema that actually makes you think?
The audiences, as I said are the actual examiners in this exam that we actors give when our film comes up for release. However, the audiences have matured by leaps and bounds. Some time ago, we would think twice about making an arty film. But now the audience is so open to any type of film... this can be seen with the way filmmakers are experimenting with different genres and story lines.
What are your expectations for Dhoondte Reh Jaoge?
Every actor wants his or her film to do the best and I don't think much differently. So yes, I want my film to do really well. Besides this I am also hoping that the audience will accept me in this comic avatar, as I am not easily related to such roles.
Kunal Khemu After this film there is Jai Veeru and 99. Tell us a bit about these films.
Jai Veeru is not an out and out comic caper, yet comedy plays an integral part in the film and the story as well, though the film is actually an action film. Jai Veeru is basically a film about two friends played by Fardeen and myself and it's more like a joy ride kind of movie, an adventure sort of outing with us on the run. But it does have those funny moments in the film.
While 99, is almost complete, only a few scenes are actually left to be shot. The film is actually a genre bender and again this time comedy has an important role in the film, but with a different flavor. Besides the directors of this film are both Indians based in New York and this will be their first venture with a feature film though they have made documentaries and short films earlier. As far as the cast is concerned, it's a really good lot and an absolute ensemble troop.
Any other film that you've signed up?
Right now I am looking at a couple of scripts and I am also in talks for film deals, but I really can't say anything yet about them. I shall only reveal things when I have actually signed on for a film and have started shooting for it as well.