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Actor Karan Kundra is now back with The Serial, where the Punjabi boy plays himself. He tells Ektaa Malik how his Facebook profile picture helped his career take off
His clean-cut Punjabi-boy looks are refreshing when compared to the other beefed-up actors of the TV industry. Sitting at the coffee shop of the Shangri-La, Karan Kundra could have passed off as any typical Delhi boy. The spiked hair and the light jacket definitely made a couple of girls turn for a second look. He is currently the face of Gumrah, a teen crime show on Channel V and he is appearing as himself on The Serial.
Kundra comes from a Punjabi family, which he told me was not typical. "I have three elder sisters, one is an MBA, one a doctor and the third a PHD. So I knew I had to do something on my own. I set up a call centre in Jalandhar, acting was not even remotely on my radar. I enrolled for Mr India in 2008, just for kicks, for then the concept was very different from what it is today — there was a certain seriousness to the contest. And then Ekta Kapoor saw my pictures on Facebook and gave me a call," the actor said. Since then, Kundra has acted in Kitni Mohabbat Hai, where he played the arrogant business tycoon-turned-lover boy. What followed were shows like Bayttab Dil Kee Tamanna Hai and Aahat and participation in the dance reality show Zara Nachke Dikha. "But I got bored. That was the safe route, the typical TV shows that get redundant after a few years. I started wondering about what I should do next. That's what motivated me to do stuff likeGumrah and now The Serial. At least ten years down the line, when we look back, we should be able to laugh about what crazy stuff we did," the actor said.
Gumrah was the turning point in the actor's career. "We set new benchmarks for the audience with it. We took away the sensational element of crime, and followed it up with The Serial. Had we started off with it, the audience would not have connected with it. But now they are ready for an alternative television-viewing experience," Kundra shared.
The actor plays himself on the TV show but it's not the story of his life. Neither is it completely fiction. It's a blend of the two and more, set to cutting-edge camera techniques. The show also has criss-crossing time lines, with a non-linear narrative pattern. "There are flashbacks but not like the ones shown on typical prime-time TV shows. It's like a month back and forth. We have also traced how one small instance in a person's life can trigger off a series of events in someone else's," Kundra said. The actor's personality has been described as 'Punjabi' in the show, which we assume would be easy for him. "It's extremely difficult to play yourself. Just imagine — you have no script of the character, and you can't act. One gets conscious. It helped that at times we didn't know where the cameras were placed. But for some shots we had to face the camera," added the actor, who is very well versed with technology. "There was a shot in which I am dialling a number from my phone and the camera shifts to the screen of my camera. There was another where a person enters a house with a DSLR camera and the audience sees the interiors through the lens. There is a loud jolt when the person keeps it on the table and that translated into jerky movements onscreen."
Kundra emphasised that his off-screen chemistry with his co-stars helped a lot, the comfort level easing off the tension. "I have known my co-stars for a while now, so it's easier. We at times settle into a regular pattern of behaviour with them and that helps with shows like The Serial," Kundra said.
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