Joined: 05 October 2010
After playing several secondary characters, this is Kunal's first big break as the solo lead in a daily soap telecast at primetime. Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuch Kaha has just replaced the controversial reality show Bigg Boss season 5. In a candid conversation with the passionate actor, who has been shooting from six in the morning to midnight, we find that in spite of his busy schedule he is fresh as ever for an interview which has been scheduled and rescheduled at least four times…
From playing a nerd to a complete baddie… what has the transition been like?
Frankly, it's been a really long journey. In my entire life I have never really planned anything. I have been a vagabond. I work for some time, make money and then take off on a long trip. But I have learnt a lot from the little work I have done. My first screen appearance was as the geeky stammering nerd in Remix, then a jovial army cadet in Left Right Left, followed by a role as thief in Maayka and then the paan-chewing baddie in Pratigya. Things always fell into place for me.
How did you bag the lead role in Na Bole Tum…?
I auditioned for Sunshine Productions long ago. They called me back almost a year later with this offer. After my stint in Pratigya, I deliberately stayed away from television for a year to get a better perspective on things and I guess that paid off. Now I am back with a bigger and much meatier role.
Who is Mohan?
Mohan is a crime reporter by profession. He loves his job because he is a carefree and careless kind of guy who loves to live on the edge. The profession lets him live like an adrenaline junkie. He believes in having an adventurous and exciting life.
So what kind of a daily soap is this?
Ideally, it's a little of everything. It's an unusual story which is a little romantic, dramatic and comic. I think that after watching the serial, the audience is the only one that can categorise the show in the right genre.
What's Mrs Vyaas' story?
Mrs Vyaas is single mother who takes on the responsibility of two adorable and smart children after her husband's death. She is a woman who is living in a cage and needs to break free. By 'cage' I mean bound by the responsibility of her children and in-laws. In reality she is very much like Mohan, but circumstances force her to lead a completely opposite lifestyle. The story revolves around these two diverse individuals who are pitted against each other by fate.
You are working with kids – are they a handful?
This is the first time I am working with kids. And they are an inspiration; you learn a lot of patience and commitment from them. Ashnoor Kaur and Vishesh Bansal are powerhouse talents. Especially Ashnoor – she is so focused and determined when she is acting that you are left flabbergasted by her talent. Without doubt, the two kids are ideally the stars of the show.
What gyaan did you give Aakansha on the first day of the shoot?
I didn't have to tell her anything. Aakansha hails from a theatre background. She has worked with Girish Karnard and essayed roles from Rabindranath Tagore's plays. Not that I have seen any, but I know that she knows what she is doing. When we began shooting she, who was facing the camera for the first time, was calm and totally composed while I was nervous. Aakansha can instil strength in the opposite person. Before the actual shoot began there was very little interaction between us, but we did do a lot of look tests and script reading.
Why did you take such a long break post Pratigya?
After my role as Angad in Pratigya, I didn't want to repeat myself. But the kinds of roles offered to me were all on similar lines. I loved my role as the bad guy. At first I was doubtful if I'd be able to pull it off – the dialect, the nature and the paan. On the first day of my shoot I ate 18 to 20 paans! But I have no regrets – Angad was like a milestone. So I didn't want to repeat myself or any role that I had already done. I wanted to do something more mature.
Your expectations from the show…
Honestly, I expect a lot, because this is the first time I am playing the lead and it's a huge responsibility. I have been working from dawn to midnight and we've put in a lot of hard work… Let's hope it pays off. I hope people appreciate our work and Na Bole Tum… becomes one of Colors' top rated shows.
Colors is known for daily soaps with social and domestic issues… will Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuch Kaha be accepted?
I'd honestly like to believe that we have a mature audience that loves shows that break the monotony and are fresh in their presentation. Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuch Kaha has a feelgood factor and is a slice-of-life kind of show. I am sure that if the story is good, people will definitely enjoy it.
At a time when women-oriented serials rule the roost, would you be able to stand out as a male lead?
I am not the only one running the show. It's the story about two diverse personalities. The USP of the show is the unusual narrative. Comparing it with any other show or character would be unfair to both. As for me, it's a character that's very different from most lead roles. If the story clicks, my character will automatically work. I am just hoping for the best.
Any other show on Colors you watch?
I love Bigg Boss. I am an ardent fan of the reality show because the entire concept is awesome. It's like a great human experiment – the clash of relationships and the interplay of roles and moods swings is simply great. But I personally would never be able to live in such a house. I wouldn't stand a chance and I cannot subject myself to 24/7 surveillance. I love my privacy and solitude a little too much.
So is working in films your next step?
I am not thinking about it right now. The serial has come at a very crucial time in my life. Kunal as a person is going through a Mohan phase and I'm loving it. I aspired to be a director since I was 13-years-old, after I saw Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park. In my free time, that's what keeps me occupied. I am always trying to teach myself something new.
So are you single, or ready to mingle?
Frankly, I am very happy being single. I am glad to have all the time to concentrate on my work and more important things.
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