Veteran Bollywood actor Kulbhushan Kharbanda (68), is best known for portraying the role of Shakaal the villain in Shaan (1980), while having to his credit critically acclaimed roles in parallel cinema, in movies such as Mahesh Bhatt's Arth and Deepa Mehta's trilogy - Fire (1996), Earth (1998) and Water (2005). The versatile actor would next be seen in Jimmy Shergill's production, Punjabi movie Saadi Love Story (which hits the theatres on January 11), Deepa Mehta's Midnight's Children and Rambhajan Zindabad (Hindi film).
Donning a turban for his role in Saadi Love Story, about his role in the film Kharbanda says, "I am playing the father of the two girls. This is not the first time I am donning a turban or playing a Sikh character. Besides, I don't find carrying different looks difficult; in fact, I quite like new challenges."
The modest actor further adds, "My Sikh brothers should not take me wrong, but since I am not Sikh, I am not habitual of carrying the turban; thus, it gets a little difficult to pull off in summers. But, I truly love and respect the Sikh religion."
About being out of the picture of late, the actor says, "I met with an accident while shooting for a film. Have undergone three operations and am ready to get back to the stage and films."
Kharbanda had been a part of theater groups Abhiyaan and Yatrik, during his Delhi days; later, he worked with Padatik (Calcutta). "I was born in Hasnabdal, Kambelpur (now in Pakistan), which is known for its historic Gurdwara Panja Sahib. I went on to do my graduation from Kirori Mal College (KMC), Delhi University, where I was a part of the KMC Dramatic Society. After completing my studies, when I joined Delhi-based theatre group Yatrik (a bilingual theatre repertory founded by director Joy Michael in 1964) I became its first paid artiste. The payment was not for acting; it was for a backstage job I was given, where I learned the technical aspect of theatre. I still don't take money for theater. I take some out from my pocket for it instead."
Recalling his best roles, the actor, who attained commercial success in movies such as Gupt, Border, Monsoon Wedding and period films Jodha Akbar and Lagaan, says, "Everyone outgrows each role that they've performed. Thus, it becomes difficult for me to pin point one. But yes, people still associate me face with the roles I played in Ek Chadar Maili Si, Shaan and Arth."
Ask him about his take on the growth of Punjabi cinema and he says, "Despite my long association with the Punjabi film industry, I don't know much about it. And it's not just Punjabi films, I don't even keep myself up to date with Hindi cinema; I wait for the movies to be aired on TV, since the wait is not much these days!"
Talking about the young talent in the industry, "I feel young actors and directors have a lot of caliber; in fact, they have a fresh approach towards work."