Kunal Kapoor braved deep bruises to train for his character of an epic warrior in Veeram. He talks to Go-getter about learning sword-fighting, and life post marriage…
The actor that debuted in Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities, Kunal Kapoor has wowed the audience with every performance. From characters that inspired to action-packed films, Kunal Kapoor has shown versatility with every film. His second film, Rang de Basanti, where he was part of an ensemble cast, got him a nomination in the Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award category.
It’s been a while since we last saw you on screen. What led to this break?
Well, you’ll see a lot of me now. I have actually finished three films – Veeram, Dear Zindagi, and there is another film with Tigmanshu Dhulia. Unfortunately, the kind of scripts that I was looking for were very few. So I chose to wait for the right moment. But I have been occupied with a lot of stuff. I enjoy writing stories. Then I also co-founded Ketto, a crowdfunding platform. And I got married too, the most productive of them all (laughs away).
You have written stories?
Yes, I have been writing fiction and poetry since I was 12. There was no particular inspiration to pick up pen and paper. I was even appreciated by teachers in school and college. I think writing comes naturally to me.
Are they shaping into scripts?
There are three stories that I am developing, all different from each other. One is comedy while the other is a crazy action plot. Then there is another one based on Partition. There are a couple of producers who have already shown interest but I am just working with co-writers to develop them into scripts.
How avid a reader are you?
I read a lot. I read anything that I get my hands on. I constantly read a bunch of books together. Lately, I am reading a series of graphic novels called Scalped by Jason Aaron, Mastery by Robert Greene and Muhammad Ali’s biography.
Which author do you enjoy the most?
Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He uses magical realism in his text and that is what I find fascinating. In future, if given a choice, I would love to do a film with such concepts of mystical realities.
Coming to Veeram. What impressed you about the film?
Firstly, it’s amazing for any actor to work in an adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic Macbeth. I am playing the character of an epic warrior. His life is seduced with power and ambition and finally he becomes a ruthless tyrant. There are too many shades in this character but what appealed to me the most was his dark side that lends him an anti-hero image. At the same time, the character is relatable too. We all aspire to achieve more than we already have. Sometimes, such ambitions lead us into wrong-doings. This character basically explores that fine line between right and wrong, but ultimately delves into a villainous trait.
You metamorphosed into a hunk with long hair and broad shoulders. Tell us about your transformation.
It was a total makeover. There were months and months of hardcore training and dieting. I used to spend two to three hours in gym everyday and paid strict attention to my food intake. I put on 12 kg for the role. Since the film is based on Kalaripayattu, a south Indian martial art form, I had to train with weapons. It took me four months to get the basics like postures and movements of Kalari right. I cut myself and bled multiple times while learning the finer nuances of Urumi, one of the sharpest swords.
Are you happy with one decade of your career?
The reason for which I joined the industry was that I wanted to be creative and I am happiest when I am being creative. You’ve got to be creative in order to be successful. So for me whenever I think of doing a film, I remind myself why I joined the industry in the first place. I have made mistakes and learnt from them but I think I am very clear about the work I want to do, and the kind of people I want to work with.
Who impressed you the most?
Aamir Khan! Other actors pick up so many films in a year but Aamir chooses to do one film that he really believes in, and that makes him special. He is a huge influence. I had a chance to work with Shah Rukh Khan as well and I found him absolutely amazing. He has been acting for almost 25 years now but the amount of energy and enthusiasm that he brings on sets is fascinating. He is like a child ready to experiment with different things. And it’s good to work with such people and learn from them. They have been working for so long but they still have the burning desire to do something unique.
How is life back home? How has marriage changed you?
Well, it’s changed for better. I think marriage is one of the best things that happened to me and we have been really good for each other. Neither of us is dominating as both of us enjoy each other company’s and also give each other enough space. I think that is crucial in a relationship.
You are also quite a sporty man.
Yes, I fly planes as I am a trained pilot. I also race cars sometimes. I just had a chance to ride a formula three car.
Written by :Karan Bhardwaj & pic:Raunak Shrivastava